Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Espresso Tales by Alexander McCall Smith

The residents of 44 Scotland Street have returned. Alexander McCall Smith continues their Edinburgh stories in his new serial novel Espresso Tales, which he ran in The Scotsman newspaper in 2005. I considered reading the new book at a chapter a day pace to recreate the newspaper experience, but I would have been reading for 104 days. I finished in three, reading morning, noon, and night. I could not wait.

My favorite character is young Bertie, who is not quite six years old. Already he is a level seven saxophone player, speaks fluent Italian, and takes yoga. His mother Irene buys him crushed strawberry colored dungarees to wear to his new school, where he meets boys named Tofu, Merlin, and Hiawatha. He just wants to play with other boys, but his time is taken with psychoanalysis and after-school and Saturday lessons. His mother insists. He is her "Bertie Project." Bernie plans an escape.

Pat McGregor prepares to start Edinburgh University, works in an art gallery, contends with her conceited flatmate Bruce, and attends a nudist picnic. Bruce starts a wine shop without adequate capital. Ramsey Dunbarton reveals that he has written his memoirs. Bernie's parents can not remember where they last parked their car. Was it in Glasgow?

Reading Espresso Tales is a lot of fun. To get a sample, listen to some podcasts from The Scotsman. The next in the series will be Love Over Scotland.

McCall Smith, Alexander. Espresso Tales. New York: Anchor Books, 2005, first released in the U.S. in 2006. ISBN 0307275973

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