Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Where I Belong: Small Town to Great Big Sea by Alan Doyle

Where I Belong: Small Town to Great Big Sea
by Alan Doyle
Random House Canada
ISBN: 978-0-385-68036-3
Buy from Indigo

Description: From the lead singer of the band Great Big Sea comes a lyrical and captivating musical memoir about growing up in the tiny fishing village of Petty Harbour, Newfoundland, and then taking to the world stage.
     Singer-songwriter and front man of the great Canadian band Great Big Sea, Alan Doyle is also a lyrical storyteller and a creative force. In Where I Belong, Alan paints a vivid, raucous and heartwarming portrait of a curious young lad born into the small coastal fishing community of Petty Harbour, Newfoundland, and destined to become a renowned musician who carried the musical tradition of generations before him and brought his signature sound to the world. He tells of a childhood surrounded by larger-than-life characters who made an indelible impression on his music and work; of his first job on the wharf cutting out cod tongues for fishermen; of growing up in a family of five in a two-bedroom house with a beef-bucket as a toilet, yet lacking nothing; of learning at his father's knee how to sing the story of a song and learning from his mother how to simply "be good"; and finally, of how everything he ever learned as a kid prepared him for that pivotal moment when he became part of Great Big Sea and sailed away on what would be the greatest musical adventure of his life.
     Filled with the lore and traditions of the East Coast and told in a voice that is at once captivating and refreshingly candid, this is a narrative journey about small-town life, curiosity and creative fulfillment, and finally, about leaving everything you know behind only to learn that no matter where you go, home will always be with you

The Good Stuff
  • A wonderful and charming memoir of a talented (ok and handsome, totally had a crush on him for years -- till Fillion and Tennant came along) humble musician growing up in small town in Newfoundland.  The man is a born storyteller, which for those who are fans of his work, will not be surprised.
  • Thoroughly enjoyed where Alan and his mother have a discussion on the recipe for her homemade bread.  Reminds me of all the times I would ask my neighbor to write down her recipes, it never happened
  •  His tales of the dinner table are so very similar to ones I heard from my husband
  • Don't get me started on the chapter about the family bathroom.  I laughed so  hard, I had tears running down my face.
  •  As a fan of GBS, I never realized the Janie mentioned in Ordinary Day was Jann Arden.   Interesting to hear how Ordinary Day came into being.  Still one of my favorite songs by them, and like so many others, when I am having a crappy day that song always gets me out of my funk.
  •  As a gal raised with very little religion  (and in a bigger town, where I don't remember any kind of mentions of the difference between Catholics and Protestants) , I was fascinated by the religious divide between these two faiths (I know I'm a heathen, but to me they both believe in God -- so what's the problem here folks, thought God was about love and acceptance)
  • I felt very nostalgic when he talks about the kitchen parties.   My fondest memories of my childhood are when my Dad's side of the family came over for a party.  All the male members of the Porter clan have the most beautiful voices (unfortunately for me and my sister, we did not inherit this and we both sound like cats dying when we sing - never stopped me from singing along though) and we would hang out in the kitchen while my Uncles and Cousins strummed their guitars and sang.  Guess that's why when I first heard a GBS song, it made me feel like I was home.
  • I appreciate and agree with his commentary on organized religions. 
  • Felt like I was hanging out with a good friend telling stories of his youth. Sometimes the stories would make me laugh out loud and at other times made me cry and want to give him a hug. 
  • Delightful glossary of terms 
  • Book is even better if you read while listening to his solo album, Boy On Bridge

The Not So Good Stuff
  •  Hoping he will write a second book, as I want to know more about life on the road with Great Big Sea
  • Spent days singing Ordinary Day - and trust me that was torture for so many people as I just can't sing worth a damn
  • Nooooo he's a Habs fan - why oh why ; ) Ah well, married to one of those, so I can let it go
  • Now having fantasies about this man singing to me -- hmmm new bucket list item. Have attractive man sing a song to me. Might have to let that one go
  • Have had a serious craving for homemade bread - ok lets post this review so I can try to make some (FYI - pals, don't drop by for a while, this could get messy)

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"This has always been my mother's pearl of wisdom, a single piece of advice she offers just about every time someone walks out the door or every time she ends a phone call. It's one of the most brilliant pieces of advice I've ever heard: Be good. Be good to people."

"We even got to play for a few dances in St. Paul's church basement, which meant playing for Protestant girls. And according to my grandmother, these girls were all scandalous whores who were on the pill, girls who were constantly having sex with just about everyone. You can imagine my disappointment when I discovered for myself that these gals were no more willing to make out with a guy like me than the Catholic gals at my own school."

"That's how parties went. That's what my folks did.  People came over to our house, we sat around the kitchen  or the piano and we sang songs.  It wasn't a party unless someone was singing a song.  We didn't have a big stereo or many records. Music was homemade."

"So, I restate my place in the world as a religious free agent with more questions than answers."

"Don't be afraid of tough guys. You need them and they need you. Let them have their moments in charge if it buys you order and civility where there might be madness.

4.75 Dewey's

I received a copy from Random House in exchange for an honest review. Also won a signed copy - which I will get him to personalize when I meet him next week at Chapters Chinook!!! And will try not to go all fan girl on him or beg him to sing me a song

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