Home from the Vinyl Cafe

by Stuart McLean

This book is subtitled “A Year of Stories,” so I knew that it would be short stories and vignettes, which makes it an excellent bathroom book, incidentally, but when I read the blurb on the back and it mentioned that Dave owned a record store, I was expecting at least something involving illicit snogging behind the audio racks. Instead, we glimpsed scenes of Dave and his wife Morley away from the store, witnessing their courtship, the early years of their marriage, and various events in their lives, over the course of a year, from winter to winter.

Author McLean has been called “the Canadian Garrison Keillor” by various media sources, and while he does share a similar folksy style, his work is also much more grounded in contemporary life than his American counterpart’s.

While I’ve never heard any of Stuart McLean’s broadcasts, his voice as an author is charming and he captured my attention. It’s true that some of the stories in this collection were a little too sitcom-ish, with pat endings and issues too easily wrapped up, but some of them made me laugh out loud at three in the morning while I was reading them on the toilet, which made Fuzzy come running to make sure I wasn’t somehow concussed.

I’m eager to read more from this collection.