Monday, March 24, 2008

Reader's Diary #338- Maeve Binchy: The Phone-In

Short Story Monday

Another Irish short story, and following the Oscar Wilde tale from last week, another dud.

Like Wilde's story, "The Phone-In" had a strong opening and a disappointing ending marked by a fluffy, predictable moral. Unlike Wilde's story, it did at least have interesting characters.

It begins by slowly introducing us to Fiona, a radio talk-show host. Here I thought Binchy's pacing was superb. Bit by bit, through details of the radio show, I was able to glean some perceptions of Fiona as a person. It reminded me of watching paparazzi on t.v. rummaging through a person's trash to get the dirt on some poor unsuspecting actor.

Then the focus changes to Rory, a longtime fan of the show. Before long I sensed that he'd become a complete bore as a character except for one thing: his obsession with Fiona. Even dull Rory begins to worry if waiting outside her station makes him some sort of "nutter."

Thant angle could have led the story. It could have added some spice. Instead, Binchy turns it into a lesson about how nobody is really ordinary. Blah, blah, blah. Besides, if no one is ordinary, it's ordinary to be extraordinary, isn't it?

The Soundtrack:
1. Help!- The Beatles
2. I Miss You- Björk
3. Ordinary World- Duran Duran
4. Radio Show- Tragically Hip
5. Talk Show Host- Radiohead


raidergirl3 said...

aah, that's too bad. I count Binchy as one of my favorite authors. Her books are comfort reads for me.

Stephanie said...

I haven't read any Binchy. It's not really the type of books I generally pick. But I've heard good things about her writing, so I was a bit suprised by this.

Of course, I LOVE Ordinary World by Duran Duran!! Almost makes me want to read the story!

John Mutford said...

Raidergirl: Well, it certainly had some strong points. I like to use short stories as benchmarks as to whether or not I'd bother with an entire novel, and it didn't deter me that much.

Stephanie: You're the 2nd person to recently surprise me with love for that tune.