I’ve been a fan of Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Cafe books since I was a kid. I was given Home From the Vinyl Cafe for Christmas when I was maybe 11 or 12. When I found out Stuart McLean also had a Vinyl Cafe show on CBC, I immediately subscribed to the podcast via iTunes. I’ve been listening to that for a few years and then in November last year I had a chance to see the Vinyl Cafe Christmas Concert when Stuart McLean was on tour. It was shortly after the release of Extreme Vinyl Cafe and the concert featured a couple stories from the book. I also got a chance to meet Stuart and have him sign my copy of Extreme Vinyl Cafe.
I’ve just finished reading the book, Extreme Vinyl Cafe, and while it’s classic Dave and Morley, I have to say I’m a bit disappointed. I think it’s the fact that I’m over-saturated by the podcast and reading so many of the books, but I’d already heard all the stories in Extreme Vinyl Cafe. I know two of them we heard at the concert, and I know at least another two (for certain) I heard on the podcast. They were great stories, and I enjoyed them, but it was disappointing because I was expecting new Vinyl Cafe stories. However, if you have never read The Vinyl Cafe or heard Stuart McLean’s stories, I strongly urge you to check out this quintessential Canadian storyteller. He is not only magnificent at weaving a tale but also has a lovely voice.
The thing that is so great about Vinyl Cafe stories is the humour mixed in with little life lessons. You’d never think of defrosting a turkey with a hair dryer, or sneaking into the school to free the janitor from “redundancy”, but there they are. Dave and his family, wife Morley, daughter Stephanie, and son Sam are all hilarious and yet vulnerable humans in their own way. While some of the stories may be a little wacky, they are all very real and honest, with genuine emotion.
Back to the book review: A neat touch to Extreme Vinyl Cafe is each story is preceded by a unique piece of fan mail that Stuart McLean has received. Each fan mail letter relates somehow to the following story. Sometimes a silly little letter simply preceding the story, other times the story serves as an insightful to the writer’s query. However, he has a new book coming out this fall — The Vinyl Cafe Notebooks — which is actually a non-fiction title about the making of the radio show. Even though it’s not Dave and Morley, I’m very interested to read this next serving of Vinyl Cafe stories.