Looking for something compelling to read over the Thanksgiving weekend? I’m a couple of years late getting to Where I Belong by Alan Doyle, lead singer of east coast band, Great Big Sea, but better late than never. It’s so good, so warmly and well-written with self-deprecation and laugh-out-loud moments, that I can’t wait to get into his new one out later this month, A Newfoundlander in Canada: Always Going Somewhere, Always Coming Home.
In Where I Belong, Doyle describes growing up in a small, Newfoundland fishing village so well that you want to pull on rubber boots to join him for a walk along the shore. You can almost smell the cod. It’s as if he’s across from you on a beer-soaked table, telling his life stories. He was such a happy kid he didn’t even realize his family was Angela’s Ashes poor. He explains how he began a close kinship with the guitar, how he started performing, his fears and failures and how and why he didn’t give up and how Great Big Sea came to be.
Newfoundland is so different from the rest of Canada that it truly is like another country, ergo Doyle’s grandfather’s lifelong assertion that it is. He’d refer to Newfoundland and to Canada but never acknowledge that one was part of the other. Some of the Irish-influenced speech from Petty Harbour is delightful. Even now, on his Twitter account, Doyle refers to himself as “this fella” as in “this fella’s in Montreal tonight”.
If you don’t know much about Alan Doyle or Newfoundland, here’s the opportunity to learn about both of them. I’ve always appreciated Great Big Sea but I’ve never been a devoted fan. However, I’ll read whatever Alan Doyle the author writes, as long as he continues to put fingers to keyboard.