Last year, our book club experienced challenges as we tried to find a “happy” book to share. If only we had thought of reading a book from the Vinyl Cafe collection of short stories, we would have had a fun discussion! The stories are ‘laugh out loud’ funny and tell the stories of Dave, Morley and their children, Stephanie and Sam. These heartwarming tales and descriptions of every day antics leave the reader smiling and reflecting on their own family situations.
Many CBC listeners will have listened to Dave tell the stories on the radio but they can also be enjoyed in a series of books. Home from the Vinyl Cafe: A Year of Stories starts in the Winter with the story of Dave’s challenges cooking the Christmas turkey and ends the following winter with Dave’s escapades as accidentally mixed up the adult and the children’s punch bowls of egg nog! My favourite was The Birthday Party which took place in the spring when Dave was left in charge of his son’s birthday party. The story began with an incident at the liquor store when Dave left in a huff. When he realized that he had left his credit card behind, he didn’t want to face the clerk so he cancelled his card rather than returning. This started an avalanche of issues – the vegetarian boy ate meat pies, the partygoers watched a scary zombie movie and there was a lumpy cake baked by Dave. The sleepover culminated with all but one of the kids being picked up in the middle of the night which is a situation that many parents could identify with!
As a cat lover and parent, I could certainly relate to the Road Trip story when the cat accidentally ended up in the car. I was literally laughing out loud reading A Day Off when the couple played hooky from their jobs only to have Dave’s mother in law arrive to take care of them. These every day stories promote laughter and pleasant reflection.
Unfortunately, Stuart McLean passed away this past February at the age of 68. He died of melanoma but his stories will be enjoyed by Canadians for years to come. He had told his tales at the Sanderson Theatre in Brantford a few years ago and I will always regret missing this opportunity. If you are looking for a quick pick me up, add a Stuart McLean book to your collection and experience his short stories one day at a time!
I am looking forward to discussing Home from the Vinyl Cafe and Vinyl Cafe turns the Page at tomorrow night’s book club. It will be fun to see which books and stories are discussed as we share our favourites!