Tuesday, December 06, 2005

44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith

Hurrah! Here's confirmation not only that Alexander McCall Smith can write something I like other than the "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series, but that he can be genuinely funny (which I questioned after encountering his bizarre effort to make fun of German professors in "Portuguese Irregular Verbs" -- a book I found quite UN-funny...)

I thought this book was delightful. It originally started life as a serialized novel published daily in The Scotsman, and apparently Mr McCall Smith is working on a third series at the moment, with the second imminently due for publication so I can look forward to reading that at some point in the future. His writing seems to be at its best when he's writing about "real" people, living in a place he loves -- and he clearly loves Edinburgh and its citizens as much as he loves the Botswanan people and landscape. There are even some fun moments when real life Edinburgh residents - including Ian Rankin, who apparently lives on the same street as Alexander McCall Smith - get to "star" in a chapter or two. The best bits, though, are reserved for the characters dreamed up by the author - among them a "gifted" boy with a pushy, overinvolved mother, a narcissistic property surveyor named Bruce who thinks it's perfectly normal that all women adore him, and Angus Lordie, a very eccentric artist who happens to own a winking dog with a gold tooth.

This was also perfect reading while studying for finals, because the chapters are so short. :-)

Other books I've read by this author:
Friends, Lovers, Chocolate
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Tears of the Giraffe
Morality for Beautiful Girls
The Kalahari Typing School for Men
The Full Cupboard of Life
In the Company of Cheerful Ladies
Portuguese Irregular Verbs

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