Friday, 7 May 2004

Heavenly date and other flirtations

Listening to:

Ella Fitzgerald, Ev’ry time we say good-bye.

Just read:

Alexander McCall Smith, Heavenly date and other flirtations.

This is an enjoyable collection of short stories on a variety of romantic themes. Most of them are quirky in appealing ways. There’s just one, set in southern Africa and about a new marriage, that packs much emotional punch. The punch is definite and effective, the story is memorable, but even here there’s an unexpected twist. The other stories tend to produce smiles, as the reader responds appreciatively to the dry and effective wit with which McCall Smith presents his often rather odd situations. For example, there's the Australian woman who goes on a blind date in Queensland, and is thoroughly sick of her man by the time they reach a crocodile farm. Then there's the date between the two people of “larger stature” and its amusing finale.

The title story comes last, and is different again: it has an impressive hushed tone to it, one that also conveys a sense of being slightly high on a hallucinatory drug. It’s an impressive finish to an entertaining read.