978-0-14-305069-8 / 9780143050698

Stories from the Vinyl Cafe 10th Anniversary Edition


Publisher:Penguin Books



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About the book:

Much of the popularity of Stuart McLean's CBC radio show The Vinyl Cafe comes from his talents as a storyteller. McLean is a skilled raconteur and a wry commentator on the foibles of ordinary Canadians, and his fans will be delighted by this first collection of stories from the early seasons of The Vinyl Cafe.

About half of the 18 stories concern McLean's Canadian everyman, Dave, and his family. Dave owns a record store in Toronto's Annex neighbourhood, has a working but occasionally uneasy marriage, a teenage daughter, and a seven-year-old son. He is also ever so slightly hapless, prone to minor disasters such as skunk infestations, sick pets, and a chronically absent mind, all of which lead to far more trouble than Dave really deserves. The rest of the Stories from the Vinyl Cafe involve Canadians who face graver difficulties than Dave encounters. In "Polaroids," a particularly fine piece, a gay man hires a prostitute to pose as his fiancÚ for the benefit of his parents, while "Stanley" is about a divorced bookstore owner whose dog's cacophonic snoring and flatulence scuttle her half-serious desire to remarry. McLean is not afraid to push the edges of sentimentality, and his trademark heart and humour shine through in this collection. However, these stories were written for radio performance, and they do lose some of their effect when McLean's charismatic delivery is taken away. Nevertheless, this is a must-have for fans, and it contains one story that ought to be in every Canadian anthology: "The Shirt," a tale that exposes the passive-aggressive side of Canadian good manners unlike any other. --Jack Illingworth

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