Secrets from the Vinyl Cafe

I'm a fan of Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe radio show. His stories are entertaining, usually funny and they have a quality I struggle with in my own writing: heart. It's situation comedy but he makes you care. McLean's characters, snug in their tight-knit community, are always involved in each others' lives. It's a welcome antidote to the private alienation of living in an urban suburb. Don't get me wrong. I would hate to live in a community where people put their noses into my private life, but it's nice to fantasize about neighbours who care.

McLean is a seasoned journalist as well as an author of fiction and he knows people. The resulting stories are deceptively simple. When McLean reads his folksy yarns on the radio in his "Dave" persona, it's easy to forget how much polish goes into these comic gems. Slick? Sure, but to work comedy must appear easy.

Fittingly, Penguin Canada has given this hardcover some of the slickest and funniest cartoon art I've seen in a book of short stories. It's unique and fun. 1950's style caricatures beckon us from their cartoon panels into the secretive and labyrinthine "Vinyl Cafe Inc."

Check it out yourself online. The cover of the book has pictures of the various naughty types and their peccadilloes. Unlock their secrets at:

For excellent stories with gentle humour, I recommend this one for gift-giving or self-indulgence. Stuart McLean can be heard Saturday mornings at 10:00 a.m. (10:30 NT) on CBC Radio Two, Sundays at 12:00 p.m. (12:30 NT) on CBC Radio One. For more information about his show, check out: CBC Radio.

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