Monday, April 6, 2009


This weekend I attended a reading at the home of the lovely and gracious Leigh Jackson. About twenty of us gathered to see author Susan McCallum-Smith read from her collection, Slipping the Moorings. I had never been to a reading in someone's home before and I have to say I enjoyed the intimacy of sitting in a cozy chair by the fireplace, looking at the greenery outside the casement windows while listening to the author read.

McCallum-Smith is a striking woman, fair with almost white blond hair. She has a Scottish accent, which is delightful. I could listen to her all day. Then again, the primary reason I listen to NPR's Coffee Break Spanish is for the Scottish accents.

But it is not only her accent that makes her readings so enjoyable. She's a good reader. She brings her words to life, she connects with her audience, and she knows how to leave them wanting to read the rest of the story.

On this afternoon, she read excerpts from three stories--"Ploughman's Lunch," "Hell Mend You," and "The End of the Season." Some writers write the same story over and over again. Not so with McCallum-Smith. Her scope is evident in just these three stories. In the first, we meet Tom in London. His wife of over fifty years is leaving him; he stops in an art gallery after having lunch with her to collect himself and to try to convince himself that she'll change her mind. In the second, it's young mother Carol-Anne in a Glasgow police station. Something's happened at the family home. In the third, Mrs. Merrick, a woman in turn-of-the-century New York, receives a guest at an odd hour. It's a young woman.

There is something about having an author's voice in your head as you turn the pages of a book she spent years of her life creating that is very personal. It's as if she's reading just to you.

Now, I must go and find out what happened to Carol-Anne in "Hell Mend You."

Check out McCallum-Smith's website for upcoming events or to order Slipping the Moorings.


  1. Thank you for coming to hear my work, it was lovely to meet you!
    Susan. x

  2. What is it about women named Susan? Love the piece,SBT. You make me wish I was there.
    - Mary Mann