I'm making it a tradition to break tradition here at the Book Mine Set. Most Short Story Mondays I've made it sort of my rule to feature only short stories that are available for free online. However, last December I broke that rule to feature Stuart McLean's "Polly Anderson's Christmas Party." This year I've decided to feature another of McLean's Christmas stories, once again not available anywhere for free as far as I can find. Like the aforementioned story, it is available for purchase at Zunior.com. Last year I remarked that it was a "mere $4.88." Perhaps it's a sign of the recession, but this year that price seems a bit pricey to me. I know at 26:19 it's longer than a typical song mp3, but come on, we're more likely to listen to a song many more times than a short story, and I think the market standard of $0.99 would have been much more reasonable.
Now that I'm good and cranky, let's review a story, shall we?
Last year a few a people remarked that they preferred "Polly Anderson's Christmas Party" to "Dave Cooks The Turkey" even though it's the latter that apparently gets the most airplay. Still, I hadn't heard "Dave Cooks The Turkey" until now. Since it seems inevitable not to compare the two, I'll begin by saying that I, too, prefer "Polly Anderson's Christmas Party" to this one.
First off, McLean's delivery seems a little rushed on this one. Also, since I'm not a huge follower of his stories, I don't know much about Dave and Morley, the heroes of McLean's stories. This time around I got more of a sense of them as characters, and I didn't find them as likable. McLean seems to push the tired "men versus women" angle (Dave's the domestically challenged dud, Morley's the high-strung, overworked wife). While it no doubt resonates with many people, it doesn't so much with me, and I find the stereotype a little annoying.
All that aside, the story isn't without chuckles. McLean seems very adept at setting up situations that become increasingly farcical as the story progresses. While listeners could probably predict the outcome from a mile away, it doesn't diminish the enjoyment at all. In fact, the anticipation of trouble held my interest more than anything else.
In this story, Dave, as the title declares, is in charge of cooking the Christmas turkey. The pressure is on come Christmas Eve when Dave realizes that he hadn't even remembered to buy one, let alone defrost it. The humour, of course, lies in his inventiveness and the pseudo-suspense of whether or not he'll pull it off without getting caught.