HOME FROM THE VINYL CAFE by Stuart McLean

HOME FROM THE VINYL CAFE

A Year of Stories
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Amusing domestic tales from the guy’s viewpoint by a Canadian Garrison Keillor.

The central figure in these 19 stories is Dave, a former rock-band road manager who now runs a tiny record shop called the Vinyl Café. Wife Morley is the sort of woman who begins preparing for Christmas in May; Dave is the kind of guy who forgets that he is in charge of the turkey until the night before Thanksgiving. So he sneaks out of the house at 4 a.m. to an all-night store, buys the last remaining turkey (a frozen, 12-pound, grade-B, slashed carcass with a ripped right drumstick that he names Butch), defrosts Butch with a hairdryer and an electric blanket; and when he can’t figure out the automatic oven timer already set for the vegetables, checks into a hotel where room service cooks the turkey for him—all without Morley ever knowing the difference. McLean’s laconic approach makes situations that are not exactly fresh seem rip-roaringly funny. For example, the $563.30 bill for Dave’s unnamed guinea pig, who spends three days at the vet because he’s losing his hair. Or the cat Dave’s sister leaves in his care with a set of instructions that he promptly loses. Or the sleepover birthday party for which he rents Night of the Zombies, scaring prepubescent son Sam and his buddies half to death. Or the friends who leave Dave in charge of periodically “feeding” a spoonful of flour to their sourdough bread starter while they are away; he mistakes Spackle for the flour and has to start another from scratch. Or the time teenage daughter Stephanie accidentally sends her parents the letter intended for her best friend and Dave starts reading her raves about the boys at summer camp: “His eyes flicked down at the page in front of him; he thought he saw the word ‘tongue.’ ”

A cozy, meandering, often laugh-out-loud treat.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-7432-7000-2
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2005