Sunday, December 20, 2009

BOOK: Vinyl Cafe Diaries by Stuart McLean

Vinyl Cafe Diaries by Stuart McLean, 302 pages

3rd Canadian Book Challenge

"We may not be big, but we are small." Such is the motto of the Vinyl Cafe, Dave's record store.

For those unfortunate souls who are not privy to CBC Radio, and Stuart McLean's show The Vinyl Cafe, Dave, his wife Morley, and their children Stephanie and Sam have multiple adventures getting through life. McLean's humorous turn and distinct reading style make this book a wonderful diversion. Obviously, you can't hear McLean's reading style in this book, but once you've heard it, that is the voice that will narrate this book in your head. (Head on over to iTunes and the CBC podcasts of The Vinyl Cafe, available for free. There are some particular classics, such as Dave Cooks the Turkey, and the one where Sam sets up a water slide in the backyard)

These Diaries contain four or five stories focused on each of the main characters. The inside cover has such teasers, with my comments in italics, as:
  • What is Dave doing by himself in a Halifax hotel room with a duck? (possibly the funniest story in the book)
  • What purloined item has Sam surreptitiously stuffed under his mattress and why? (I remember hearing this one on the radio. With my own 12 year old boy, all the Sam stories took on a new poignancy)
  • Why is Morley skulking around with a man named Frank on the eve of her fortieth birthday?(no, wait, anytime there is a party that Dave is involved with, that's the funniest story)
  • What is it about the book club that Mary Turlington doesn't dare tell Morley? (awesome, a book club story, surely people will recognize some of their own book club members)
What makes these such wonderful stories is the same thing that makes Modern Family such a great television show. (Wait, are you watching Modern Family? Because it is so very funny, and well written, and a great family that you need to put it on your TV programmer) What makes both so great is first of all the comedy. Slapstick, misunderstandings, general life mistakes funny. Secondly, the family members like each other, and it is in the comedy that the truths about relationships and family love come out. The endings of Modern Family usually have a voice over, which should be schmaltzy, but are in fact perfect, ironic observations which show the love family can have. Just like Dave and Morley and Sam and Stephanie.