One Good Reason: A Memoir of Addiction and Recovery, Music and Love by Séan McCann and Andrea Aragon

[dropcap]I’m[/dropcap] a fan of Séan McCann. Bought his music. Saw him perform with Great Big Sea. Had a joyous time, singing myself hoarse. Now I’ve read One Good Reason* – his collaborative memoir – enticingly structured, chapters alternating between spouse-authors McCann and Andrea Aragon.

From McCann’s passage Losing My Religion: I left Newfoundland an innocent kid. A virgin. I came back with the burden of a dark secret that would haunt my entire life, and a thirst for liquor that would help drown it out.

For many, it’s essential to discuss their life, as sharing, more often than not, facilitates healing. I’m part of a writing group – a large one – where most members are addicts, survivors of abuse, and most often, both. I include myself. All have immediate family and friends who are also part of this non-exclusive group. Sharing helps. Everyone’s story is important. Not all, however, are interesting. That’s what our writing group explores. You can write for catharsis, which is invaluable. Imperative in fact. And then you can write your story to be interesting.

From Aragon’s passage … and Paste: I had thought about committing suicide. It seemed both an easy solution and a permanent one. But it was for both of those reasons that I eventually ruled it out as an option.

Aragon’s writing is refreshing, presented with direct sincerity. While McCann’s storytelling brilliance shines brightest through his music – relatable, emotional tales that move us, remarkably within a few minutes. I was excited to receive an advance copy of this collaborative memoir, knowing McCann’s ability to communicate a rich narrative. Yet as I began the book I anticipated better storytelling from this gifted composer. In Part I, Genesis, he presents his life almost judiciously. For such raw topics – substance and sex abuse – I expect greater emotion. Unlike his lyrics, McCann’s prose feels reserved. I’m reading his story but not certain I’m hearing his voice. And I like his voice. Which with music, flows, reins released, directly from his heart.

From his song Fire: I’m gonna walk through the fire / Gonna get a little higher / Gonna let these flames / Lead me to the light.

Which I feel McCann accomplishes in Part II, Psalms. As though a different writer’s hit the page – a proper east coast yarn-spinner. We begin to hear the rocker’s voice, as though a governor’s been removed, boarding the tour bus, meeting groupies, smoking too much weed, and yes, even filling a bag with late-night burrito-bean poo. As one does.

But beyond the drunken adventures on the road one expects from a musician’s rear-view-mirror memoir, as Aragon and McCann lob their respective volley of stories, we realize more than anything, this is a story of love. [perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”#23465D” class=”” size=””]This is an important read. Honest writing from committed partners that have clearly worked at their craft. The result is good.[/perfectpullquote] In Parts III, Proverbs, and IV, Exodus, we see Séan and Andrea’s relationship deepen, and with it the detritus of runaway alcoholism. Until, in this case, those cracks are faced, and the wasting effect of pain begins, ever so gradually, to wane. With love, growth, and with courage, recovery.

This is an important read. Honest writing from committed partners that have clearly worked at their craft. The result is good. And therein lies the strength of this work. Collaboration. For many, knowing they’re not alone in their situation, survival, and hopefully, recovery, this book, this sincerity, remains critical. I know this firsthand. And see it every day.

*This review was based on an Advance Reading Copy supplied by the publisher. One Good Reason will be released on April 14, 2020.


About the Authors:

Born in Carbonear, Newfoundland, Séan McCann rose to fame as a founding member of the multi-million-selling folk group Great Big Sea. Today Séan is renowned as a mental health, addiction, and recovery advocate who continues to sing and share his story of surviving twenty-five years of alcoholism that once masked a dark secret of childhood abuse at the hands of his trusted family priest.

Andrea Aragon is the daughter of Vietnam War veteran and the fiercely loving mother of two growing boys, two indifferent cats, and two bad dogs. She is still married to her second husband, Séan.

One Good Reason: A Memoir of Addiction and Recovery, Music and Love by Séan McCann with Andrea Aragon
Nimbus Publishing

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Bill Arnott is the bestselling author of A Season on Vancouver Island, theGone Viking travelogues, andA Perfect Day for a Walk: The History, Cultures, and Communities of Vancouver, on Foot(Arsenal Pulp Press, Fall 2024). Recipient of a Fellowship at London’s Royal Geographical Society for his expeditions, Bill’s a frequent presenter and contributor to magazines, universities, podcasts, TV and radio. When not trekking with a small pack and journal, Bill can be found on Canada’s west coast, where he lives near the sea on Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh land.