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Fleeting Thoughts

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This is the second edition of Michael McGan's Fleeting Thoughts. Never having seen the first edition, it's impossible to say what additions or revisions this one contains. The author himself describes it as "a collection of humor pieces in the form of essays, stories, and satirical bits on things such as time-travel, soap operas, and telephone psychics". This is about as rum as they come, so it's no surprise when the first story turns out to be called Pour the Rum Slowly. It is Mr McGan's account of his holiday in Jamaica. In terms of humour, it ranks somewhere between the kind of story you laugh politely at when told by a mate in the pub and a 'seventies ITV sitcom. In other words, it's not my cup of tea, but some people will probably enjoy it.

Considering that this is an e-book - not to mention a second edition - there is no excuse for the quantity of errors. Maybe I'm a bit of a nit-picker, but I do think that anyone who wants to use Jean-Claude Van Damme's reputation to reinforce a joke should at least take the trouble to spell his name correctly.

It's not apparent whether some of these "essays" and other short articles have been previously published in some other form, perhaps in a local newspaper or radio broadcast. Michael McGan strikes me as the kind of bloke who has lively opinions on everything, ranging from the dentist to science fiction. Despite the diversity of the collection, recurring themes soon appear.

After revealing further titbits from past family holidays, the author branches out into less familiar territory. Much funnier than the earlier stuff is his parody of the soap "updates" that appear in TV papers. US soap operas may be battier than British ones, but only marginally. I particularly liked, "Franky proposes to Sarah at a wrestling event, only to be killed when an enormous man is hurled out of the ring, crushing him." Can't you just imagine something like that happening to Curly Watts? The imaginary psychic pay-line conversations are of similar quality. Mr McGan's musings on the activities of his small daughters also raise a few smiles - it's amusing to note how different the random observations of a father are from those of a mother.

The sensible strategy would have been to put some of these more entertaining items right at the front of the book, before all the nonsense about "what I did on my holidays" - then there would be more likelihood of readers persevering with the whole book. But I imagine this miscellany is intended as something a reader can dip into whenever he/she is feeling down. I would simply advise any purchaser to skip the travelogues


ISBN 0 75962 842 4
Published by 1stbooks, 2001 (2nd ed)
144pp, e-book (Retail price $3.95)
or paperback (Retail price $10.95)

Open Book

Review by Deborah Fisher