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Stuart McLean

Markham (Ont.), Penguin Books (Viking), 1989. 236pp, cloth, $24.95
ISBN 0-670-82966-8. CIP

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by Louise Reimer.

Volume 18 Number 1
1990 January

Stuart McLean is a Canadian journalist of a different breed. The hard-nosed irascibility of a Gordon Sinclair, the hard-hitting investigative questions of a Barbara Frum are nowhere in evidence. The stuff of McLean's reports is not disaster, political corruption or urban crime. Instead, his eye is turned toward the extraordinariness of everyday life. Despite good intentions to focus on the major world events of mainstream journalism, Mclean is the first to admit that he is all too easily distracted by the unusual, "by those bits in [the] newspa­per about the parrot who has been taught to whistle a Chopin sonata by the out-of-work conductor." Herein lies the charm of Stuart McLean's journalism.

For five years, McLean's weekly chats with Peter Gzowski have de­lighted listeners of the popular CBC radio show, "Morningside." Now, for those unlucky enough to have missed the on-air McLean - Gzowski repartee or even those who wish to savour the experience again, Stuart McLean is available in print. The Morningside World of Stuart McLean is an appealing collection of thirty of his most memo­rable radio essays.

The range of topics is wide, but each piece is characterized by a refreshing honesty, an engaging curiosity, a tinge of self-mockery, and a humorous and bittersweet nostalgia for the way things used to be. Whether musing in lauda­tory style about the popsicle, recalling the male rites of passage within the neighbourhood barber shop, giving the inside story on dust balls, or introducing such memorable characters as Ernie the hot dog vendor or Ed the Meccano collector, McLean is sure to elicit a chuckle and a smile of recognition from his readers.

Recommended for "Morningside" aficionados and readers with a taste for the quirky side of life.

Louise Reimer, Edmonton Public Library, Edmonton, Alta.
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