McLean, Stuart 1948-

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McLEAN, Stuart 1948-

(Andrew Stuart McLean)

PERSONAL: Born April 19, 1948, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada; son of Andrew Thompson and Margret Patricia (Godkin) McLean; married Linda Read, July 10, 1982 (separated); children: Andrew, Robert, Christopher Trowbridge.

ADDRESSES: Office—CBC Radio, P.O. Box 500, Station A, Toronto, Ontario M5W 1E6, Canada. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Journalist, educator, writer, and broadcaster. Dawson College, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, administrator, 1971–74; Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Radio, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, executive producer of Sunday Morning (radio show), 1981–83, host of The Vinyl Café (radio program); Ryerson Polytechnic Institute, Toronto, director of broadcast journalism, 1984, professor, 1987–2005. Toured Canada with The Vinyl Café.

AWARDS, HONORS: Honorary Ed.D., Nippising University of Windsor; named honorary colonel, 8th Maintenance Squad; Best Documentary award, Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television, and Radio Artists, 1979, for contribution to coverage of the Jonestown massacre; Human Rights Broadcast Journalism award, B'nai Brith, 1985; best nonfiction book designation,, Canadian Author's Association, 1993, for Welcome Home; Rooke fellow at Trent University, 1994; Stephen Leacock Award for Humour, for Home from the Vinyl Café and The Vinyl Café Unplugged; Best Short Story Collection designation, Canadian Author's Association, 2004, for The Vinyl Café Diaries.

WRITINGS:

The Morningside World of Stuart McLean (nonfiction), Penguin Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1989.

Welcome Home: Travels in Smalltown Canada (nonfiction), Viking (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1992.

Stories from the Vinyl Café (fiction), Viking (New York, NY), 1995.

(Editor) When We Were Young: A Collection of Canadian Stories, 1996.

Home from the Vinyl Café: A Year of Stories (fiction), Viking (New York, NY), 1998.

The Vinyl Café Unplugged (fiction), Viking (New York, NY), 2000.

The Vinyl Café Diaries (stories), Viking (New York, NY), 2003.

Co-writer of screenplay Looking for Miracles. Contributor to The New Morningside Papers, 1987, and The Latest Morningside Papers, 1989.

SIDELIGHTS: Stuart McLean is a well-known Canadian educator, journalist, and writer who also is known for his storytelling on the radio show The Vinyl Café. He is also the author of a number of books, including fiction based on the characters from The Vinyl Café. In his nonfiction book, Welcome Home: Travels in Smalltown Canada, the author focuses on the twenty-five percent of Canadians who live in small rural towns as he chronicles a way of life that is quickly disappearing. "Mostly, I wanted to write about the importance of being unimportant," the author told Joe Chidley in Maclean's. The book stems from two years that the author spent traveling throughout Canada and interviewing hundreds of people. Among the small towns he visits are Dresden, Ontario, which served as the end of the Underground Railroad used to free U.S. slaves, and an isolated Ferryland fishing village in Newfoundland. "Delicately interwoven among the stories in Welcome Home is an exploration of the sense of place that gives small towns their community spirit," wrote Chidley in Maclean's. Chidley also commented that the book contains a good bit of "down-home humor and eccentricity to prevent Welcome Home from being maudlin," and added: "The result is a book that deserves to be lingered over and savored, like a chat with an old friend."

Home from the Vinyl Café: A Year of Stories is a group of "colloquial, interlocking stories [that] chronicle the … [ups] and downs of a suburban Toronto couple," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor. The stories revolve primarily around Dave, the owner of a record store named The Vinyl Café, and Dave's wife Morely. The story topics range from Dave's desperate purchase of a Turkey the night before Thanksgiving and its ultimate preparation by a hotel staff to the slumber party Dave holds for his son during which he inadvertently scares the entire group with a horror movie. Other stories include one about Dave's daughter, who he suspects of having too much of a good time with the boys at camp, and Dave's encounter with the rising loaf of sourdough bread he is watching for friends. "McLean's laconic approach makes situations that are not exactly [fresh] seem rip-roaringly funny," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor. The reviewer went on to call the book "a cozy, meandering, often laugh-out-loud treat." A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the author has a predilection for "overly cute, contrived humor," but added that the book is generally "highly enjoyable."

McLean also served as the editor of When We Were Young: A Collection of Canadian Stories. The book includes the works of twenty-two accomplished Canadian writers who have provided both short stories and excerpts from novels for the book. A Resource Links contributor noted that the book "is drawn together by its emphasis on the pathos, heartache and humour of childhood experiences."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2005, review of Home from the Vinyl Café: A Year of Stories, p. 253.

Maclean's, January 11, 1993, Joe Chidley, review of Welcome Home: Travels in Smalltown Canada p. 50.

National Post (Canada), December 2, 2000, Janice Biehn, "Storyteller Stuart McLean Talks about His Reading and Listening Pleasures," p. W2.

Publishers Weekly, February 21, 2005, review of Home from the Vinyl Café, p. 154.

Resource Links, October, 1999, review of When We Were Young: A Collection of Canadian Stories, pp. 23-24.

ONLINE

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Web site, http://www.cbc.ca/ (June 6, 2005).

Don Jones Productions Web site, http://www.donjonesproductions.com/ (June 6, 2005), "Stuart McLean."

Writer's Union of Canada, http://www.writersunion.ca/ (June 6, 2005), "Stuart McLean."

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