Alexander McCall Smith

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What are important quotes from the short story "No Place to Park" by Alexander McCall Smith?

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"No Place to Park" is a short story about one crime writer's endeavors to write a different type of crime story. Ironically, as he tries to write a non-violent crime story, he himself dies a violent death. One of the main themes in the story is the theme of violence,...

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"No Place to Park" is a short story about one crime writer's endeavors to write a different type of crime story. Ironically, as he tries to write a non-violent crime story, he himself dies a violent death. One of the main themes in the story is the theme of violence, and so the four quotations I have listed below are quotations pertaining to violence.

They were a group bound together by a fascination with the gory details of behaviors in which they themselves would never engage.

This first quotation refers to the people who, at the beginning of the story, are attending a writers' festival. The quotation is important because it highlights the peculiar human predilection for wanting to experience violence vicariously. This predilection is described as a "fascination," implying that people like to experience violence vicariously because it is so alien to their own lives—and because it is, to most people, so beyond the realms of what they can imagine doing themselves.

It could not be graphic enough for them.

This second quotation is important because it points to the idea that people have become desensitized to violence. The quotation describes the demand of the readers at the writers' festival for increasingly graphic violence. This quotation suggests that there is no imaginable limit to the violence that they like to read about.

The knife would have a number of serrations along the edge, each carefully honed to the shape of a shark's tooth, in order to leave just the right wounds for the coroner to come to the inevitable conclusion—death by shark attack.

In this third quotation, the protagonist, a writer named George, describes his idea for a story, that idea being that a murder might be carried out to look like a shark attack. This is an important quotation because it foreshadows George's own violent death at the end of the story.

His heart gave a lurch as he caught a glimpse of something in the water. He peered into the depths. ... He searched the water. A flash of metal, from down below it seemed. Impossible, he thought. Impossible. I told nobody.

This fourth quotation describes George, on his surfboard out at sea, just before he is murdered—seemingly in the same way as he imagined for the character in his story, as outlined in the previous quotation. This fourth quotation is important because it suggests that the violence George was trying to avoid was in fact inescapable. There is also a suggestion that George is, in a sense, a victim of his own violent imagination. Indeed, he becomes a victim of an act of violence which he himself thought up.

Read metaphorically, the moral of the story might be that we are all in some sense victims of our own acts of violence.

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