Tina Jordan
August 15, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Heavenly Date And Other Flirtations

Current Status
In Season
Alexander McCall Smith

We gave it a D

If you adore Smith’s lovely Botswana-set novels of manners (The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, etc.), you might be tempted to pick up this collection of short fiction, which sports the same small size and boldly colored jacket. Alas, these tales about the rituals of love and dating are downright sophomoric. In ”Fat Date,” a couple argues about who is fatter, and then one gets stuck in a chair; while in ”Far North,” a woman is taken to a crocodile farm by her reprehensible date, who admires the ”hundreds and hundreds of potential handbags walking around” and then falls in the water and gets eaten. The stories all have a musty, dated feel, as if Smith wrote them 20 or 30 years ago and stashed them in a drawer. They should have been left to molder.

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