Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Our Friend Alexander
We call the author, Alexander McCall Smith, our friend, not because we know him well, except through his writing, but because we consider him a kindred spirit. We discovered this writer quite accidentally. I had, in a weak moment, signed up for membership in a mystery book club and could pick all these books, some of which I knew about and wanted to read. But to get all the books I was entitled to, I also chose some writers with whom I was unfamiliar. Well, the books all came, and I read all the ones I had heard about and time went by and the awful day came when I had nothing new to read. So I picked up this book, The Full Cupboard of Life and I was hooked. The first thing I did after that was find the beginning of that series, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and then I read them all in sequence. Then I looked to see what else was there to read. And I found and read those. He manages to write several different series, I can't imagine how. I won't list them here; that's for the curious reader to find. Oh, my goodness, Isabel. Oh, my goodness, Bertie. But recently a lovely thing happened. Alexander is based in Edinburgh, Scotland, but he tours the States from time to time, usually in the large metropolitan areas. Recently, though, he was to speak at the Fayetteville, Arkansas, library and being somewhat familiar with that beautiful area, we gathered ourselves together and drove to Fayetteville, and actually met our friend in person. And spent two hours, we and a couple of hundred other friends of Alexander, hearing him speak and laugh, and making us laugh. Got to shake his hand and have a brief chat. He writes mysteries, of a sort, sometimes. And he writes about very serious subjects: spousal abuse, the plight of orphans, children dealing with incompetent parents, and many other issues, but he writes about these subjects with a kind yet realistic view of humanity. About the little kindnesses as well as the little mean and petty acts. For us, reading Alexander's books is a great pleasure. Discussing his books is a great pleasure. Meeting Alexander in person was a gift.