Contemporary character novel with biting wit!
Village Books, by Craig McLay
Village Books is a local institution…which is good, because most of the staff probably belong in one.
There’s the manager, Dante Andolini, who’s hiding more than just his hypochondria from his overbearing mother…Sebastian Donleavy, whose hedonistic lifestyle is two rails short of being on the rails…Aldous Swinghammer, whose philosophical eccentricities have not been the biggest hit with the ladies…Ebeneezer Chipping, whose crotchety exterior hides a burning passion for the Spanish émigré next door…Mina Bovary, whose crazy husband may have just gone AWOL with an arsenal of fragmentary explosive devices…and the store’s long-suffering assistant manager, who is spinning his wheels in retail while he waits for something better to come along.
That something better may be new assistant manager Leah Dashwood, an aspiring actress with an ambitious plan to transform the store and its staff in a way that will turn their carefully disordered world on its head. Will the store survive? Will it be bought over by its evil corporate competition? All questions will be answered (but not necessarily in that order) in this hilarious debut novel.
My Thoughts about Village Books
I picked up Village Books for free on Kindle some time ago. It was shortly after I discovered that I could have and use a Kindle from my computer desktop (and before I got my new iPhone with the Kindle app!) so I didn’t do much more with the book other than purchase and set it on my Kindle Cloud Shelf. About a month ago, I stepped into the contemporary world, released my dumb phone, and embraced a sleek, shiny, smart iPhone . . . with a Kindle app and here we are.
Village Books had me in stitches. The story centers around an independent book shop in Canada where an unnamed narrator introduces the reader to the cast of characters he is surrounded by on a daily basis. I admit, the names are odd and, at times, I forgot who was who, especially when it comes to the less-often reference characters. That said, the narrative and dialogue – both external and internal – had me glued to the digital page.
I can’t say a whole heck of a lot about the plot because, well, there isn’t much of one. It’s a character-driven contemporary novel that doesn’t use a lot of traditional plot devices or predictable story lines. It simply follows the lives of (mainly) the book’s narrator as he works at Village Books, describes the customers and events he encounters, hangs out at the local pub, and meets his future wife, Leah. Now, Leah, I have to say . . . eh, I wasn’t such a fan of her character. Well, I was at first. Then, when her ducks started lining themselves up into neat little rows like she always dreamed they would, I was kind of always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was worried she’d turn into a stereotypical actress character; and I’m glad she didn’t.
Craig McLay writes with a heavy does of humor, sarcasm, and wit, not to mention a keen sense of pop culture and literary reference. I’ve sought to learn more about him both on Goodreads and on Facebook, but he seems rather enigmatic, which reminds me a lot of his narrator for Village Books. All in all, he seems like the kind of guy that you could sit down and have a drink with and spend much of the time either laughing or trying to keep up with false highbrow humor. And I like that a lot.