Thursday, August 09, 2007

44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith

The denizens of the flats at 44 Scotland St., Edinburgh, are a funny bunch, and I liked getting to know them. They get up to some things that lurk just this side of ridiculous, and sometimes cross over into farce. McCall Smith wrote this book in serial form for The Scotsman, an Edinburgh newspaper, an episode a day, each one only a few pages long. I get the feeling there are a lot of Edinburgh in-jokes sprinkled throughout the story. But it didn’t bother me, or reduce my enjoyment. It just made me envy the readers of The Scotsman and wish my newspaper would do something similar.

44 Scotland Street features mysterious tunnels, secret societies, Presybterian fatwas, an abstract Vettriano, a winking dog, unconventional child-rearing techniques, stolen underwear, Ian Rankin in a hot tub, and lots of hair gel. I didn’t think this book was as funny as his series about the German philology professor, or the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books, but it was still good, good enough for me to look forward to the next volume, Espresso Tales.

This was an audiobook, and it took me forever to finish – months, I think. I wasn’t crazy about the reader. He used a high thin voice to read the women’s parts and I found that to be distractingly artificial, and resulted in the women characters all sounding na├»ve and unsure of themselves. In the case of Pat, a young woman "on her second gap year” this approach fit her personality, but the other women characters (who were supposed to be older and stronger) were disserved by it.

Someone spilled milk on my laptop computer (I know who, I'm just not saying). The damage seems to be confined to the keyboard, and I’ve ordered a new one (a keyboard, not an entire new laptop). The laptop computer stores all my ripped audiobooks, so I can’t begin another until I get this problem sorted out. It’s been too hot to walk to work anyway, so my available listening time is pretty minimal.

(Book 35, 2007)


Anonymous said...

Sounds like an interesting tale, and I wish our papers would do that too! I agree, the voice thing would annoy me too.

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