Category Archives: Memoirs

Trail Mix: 920 km on The Camino de Santiago by Jules Torti

Whether you’re a hardcore adventurer, mountain trekker, long-distance walker, or sedate, armchair explorer, Jules Torti’s Trail Mix is an engaging and entertaining travelogue. Reading Torti’s memoir felt like picking up a prescription, what the doctor ordered for a feel-good, easy-to-swallow antidote to pandemic lockdowns and travel restrictions.

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The Santiago de Compostela, also known as The Way of Saint James, Camino, or simply The Way has been a pilgrimage of religious indulgence for ten centuries. Now, for most, it’s simply a bucket-list trek, one of the world’s great hikes for the devoutly pious, atheistic, or those in-between on the continuum of spiritual belief. Over the recent past, a great many books have explored, mapped and followed the trail. Which is in fact a number of paths and landbound tributaries snaking their way, more or less, from the south of France across northern Spain. I’ve even trekked an offshoot along the ancient salt paths of southwest England, meandering my way to the continent through Basque country and around the Bay of Biscay. It’s a special excursion, for countless reasons, the range of which are as diverse as every individual making the journey. This is why, irrespective of the volume of Camino publications, everyone, I feel, has something special to offer. And Torti’s book does indeed offer something special.

Here the publisher summarizes the author’s adventure. “There is snoring. Sleep apnea. Threadbare patience. Frayed nerves. Sour socks. A lot of salami. Shifting from a walk-in closet to a walking closet of just 10 pounds, Jules and Kim decided to walk the historic Camino before their lower backs (or any other body parts) decided otherwise. Trail Mix is the open, frank, and funny story of one Canadian couple voted most unlikely to agree to such a daunting social experience.”

Depending on where you choose to start and conclude, the Camino trek can range from a hundred to a thousand miles. People usually spend a few weeks or months on the trail, traversing a range of topography, from high altitude Pyrenees to arid Spanish fields, pastures and vineyards. Those keen to “do it by the book” get official Camino passport stamps and stay in hostels, some of which have catered to pilgrims for centuries.

This passage in particular brings us directly onto the trail with our storyteller, a sensory dive into the experience. “We had dust up to our knees already. I snapped the ankle of my sock and a plume of dust arose, like Pigpen from Peanuts. Laundry would be imperative, as we had really pushed the limits of the Smartwool ‘stink-free’ guarantee. I had been wearing my two pairs of quarter socks on rotation for seven days. The last two hostels had zero clothesline real estate left,
so we kept pushing our wash cycle.”

For anyone who loves a well-told tale from the trail, this engaging travelogue has something for everyone: the challenge of a trek, healing, quirky humour, and the simple satisfaction of pursuing, and attaining, an important personal goal.

About the Author: Jules Torti is editor-in-chief of Harrowsmith magazine. She has been published in Cottage Life, The Vancouver Sun, The Globe and Mail, and Matador. She also writes for Coast Mountain Culture, Kootenay Mountain Culture, Travelife, and Live Small Town magazine. Her memoir Free to a Good Home: With Room for Improvement was published by Caitlin Press in 2019. She lives in Lion’s Head (near Owen Sound), Ontario.

Title: Trail Mix: 920 km on the Camino de Santiago
Author: Jules Torti
Publisher: RMB | Rocky Mountain Books, 2021
ISBN: 9781771604802
Pages: 336

About the Reviewer: Bill Arnott is the bestselling author of Gone Viking: A Travel Saga, Gone Viking II: Beyond Boundaries, and recipient of The Miramichi Reader’s 2021 Very Best Book Award for nonfiction. When not trekking the globe with a small pack and journal, Bill can be found on Canada’s west coast, making music and friends. @billarnott_aps

This article has been Digiproved © 2022 James Fisher
Acknowledgements: Bill Arnott
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Salt and Roses: The Coastal Maine Way of Life by May Davidson

As of this writing, author May Davidson is (or will be) 93 years old. In 2019, she had her memoirs, Whatever It Takes, published by Maine’s Islandport Press. Salt and Roses is filled with smaller reminiscences, gathered from a column that appeared for many years in The Lincoln County News, where many of the essays in this book first appeared.

The first thing you must know about Ms. Davidson is that she loves Maine. She not only loves it but she truly appreciates the diversity of its seasons and its geography; from mountains and lakes in the west to the rugged (“stone jawed”) coasts of Down East Maine. However, as this collection is subtitled “The Coastal Maine Way of Life”, it primarily fixes on the area of Maine Ms. Davisdon grew up in around Bremen Maine.

“A lifetime in Maine seeps deeply into the blood, the sorcery of it seasoning and enriching each month of the year.”

The stories or essays within the covers are cozy, comfortable stories of earlier (and simpler) times of farm life, as well as the summer guest inn that her parents ran. It was at this inn that she met her husband Jim, who was a guest along with his aunt. They would spend sixty-eight years together, and many of the stories are about life on their farm, the antics of their various livestock, and the nature that is part of the Maine allure. One of the stories is an amusing trip north to New Brunswick to acquire a particular type of ram that they needed. The only one suitable was in Ste. Marie-de-Kent, a village in a very Acadian area of the province. The LeBlancs spoke no English and the Davidsons spoke no French, so an interpreter acted as a go-between not only for the languages but for settling on a price for the ram. The Davidsons chose to bring their car with the backseat removed (this was in the 1950s) and the resulting space complete with bedding for the ram for the trip back. A situation full of amusing possibilities, it was a highlight of the book for me.

As an aged person, Ms. Davidson is very reflective not just on the past, but on the present as well.

“Please, embrace your advancing years. Have no fear. We all go through our destinies of angst, grief, and joy, but then love and laughter will also carry us onward.”

And on a lifetime in Maine:

“We live here because Maine is clean sky, ocean, wildflowers, dark fir and spruce, and always the scent of pine and sea. Salt and sea roses. No other place matters when all this is home.”

“A lifetime in Maine seeps deeply into the blood, the sorcery of it seasoning and enriching each month of the year.”

Salt and Roses is the perfect accompaniment to Whatever It Takes, for that book left the reader wanting to read more about a life lived wholly in Maine, and a well-observed and well-written one at that.

By the age of eight, I had made up my mind I would never live anywhere but Maine. My attachment to the state is that of a barnacle to a ledge, the pull of the moon to the earth. Maine, because of its singular and profound beauty, is a place of worship without walls. I love it so.

From Whatever It Takes by May Davidson

About the Author

May Davidson was born in 1929 in Damariscotta, a village along the Maine coast. In 1947, she graduated from nearby Lincoln Academy and a year later married her teenage sweetheart, Jim Davidson. She first met Jim when he spent a week at her family’s inn on Greenland Cove. The couple, despite struggles, were determined to live in Maine and did whatever necessary to make that happen, whether running a chicken farm, raising sheep, building lobster traps, or driving a truck across America. They ultimately found great success when they invented the now-iconic Maine Buoy Bell. Her memoir, Whatever it Takes, was published in 2019.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Islandport Press (Sept. 14 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 176 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1952143179
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1952143175

This article has been Digiproved © 2022 James FisherSome Rights Reserved  

Flora! A Woman in a Man’s World by Flora MacDonald and Geoffrey Stevens

If you’ve studied, read, or even talked about Canadian politics while living n Atlantic Canada, the name Flora MacDonald will inevitably come up. If you’re a woman, and you’re talking about politics in Atlantic Canada, someone will make a Flora reference to you or about you, regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum. And so, if you want to brush up on your Flora knowledge before this happens, may I suggest Flora! A Woman in a Man’s World by Flora MacDonald and Geoffrey Stevens? MacDonald died in 2015, as Stevens explains in the introduction, at which point this memoir that they had been working on together, written in MacDonald’s words, was about two-thirds complete. The project was revived by the encouragement of her niece, Linda Grearson, and Stevens did extensive research and numerous interviews to complete the story of Flora MacDonald in her words. The result is a fascinating, seamless, and complete memoir of Flora MacDonald, a truly exceptional woman.

“Flora MacDonald was a trailblazer, and her memoir captures that perfectly yet humbly, written as if Flora was sitting across from you at the table, maybe over tea, telling you about her adventures around the world…”

This memoir is truly comprehensive, starting with MacDonald’s ancestors who immigrated to Canada from Scotland, ultimately settling in Cape Breton. Born in North Sydney, Flora MacDonald was one of eight children, five of whom lived to adulthood. Theirs was not a well-off home, and though she was bright, she always knew she was never going to go to university. Instead, she went to secretarial college in Sydney, and to work at the Bank of Nova Scotia. She was twenty-six years old in 1952, had gotten several transfers in the bank and made her way to Toronto, when she quit and went to Europe to explore. This is the first part of the memoir which really set the tone for me: Flora MacDonald, above all, enjoyed a good adventure. She was game for absolutely anything, and it was that spirit of “well, why not?” which guided her career with the federal Progressive Conservative party. A true Red Tory, Flora MacDonald had a long career with the PCs, working for the party, and eventually running to be the Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands. She sat as their MP from 1972 to 1988, during that time serving as a member of the Opposition, the Secretary of State for External Affairs (now the Minister of Foreign Affairs), Minister of Communications, and Minister of Employment and Immigration. In 1976, she ran for the leadership of the federal PCs, though lost badly.

Flora MacDonald was a trailblazer, and her memoir captures that perfectly yet humbly, written as if Flora was sitting across from you at the table, maybe over tea, telling you about her adventures around the world, her humanitarian work in Afghanistan and India, the time she attempted to climb Mount Everest, the trials and tribulations of the Progressive Conservative party – including her more strained relationships, such as being fired by John G. Diefenbaker from the party office – and above all, her pride and occasional incredulity that a girl who had no real formal education, who climbed her way to the upper echelons of the Canadian government, who travelled to more than 100 countries, and who lived a fascinating life beyond what she could have imagined. I was delighted with this memoir. Learning more about Flora MacDonald through her own eyes was a great adventure in itself, and I highly recommend this political memoir.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ McGill-Queen’s University Press (Oct. 15 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 328 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 022800862X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0228008620

This article has been Digiproved © 2022 James Fisher
Acknowledgements: Alison Manley
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The Ghosts of Walter Crockett: A Memoir by W. Edward Crockett

The author of The Ghosts of Walter Crockett and I have one thing in common: the year of our birth (1961). This is significant, for while we were raised in different cities in different countries, the time period was shared, so I could immediately identify with Ed Crockett as he recounts his life growing up in Portland Maine.

Ed Crockett is the youngest of eight children born to Walter and Virginia Crockett. They lived in the Munjoy Hill area of Portland, an area that was viewed as a ‘poor’ neighbourhood, but from all accounts, it was a happy enough childhood until Walter succumbed to his alcohol addiction, leaving Virginia no choice but to kick him out of the house. (It was the only way she could get benefits in the 60s if there was no man in the house.) One would think that this would bring Walter to his senses, but no, he was to live 17 years on the streets, “the biggest drunk in Portland” as his obituary stated. He was so often close to death that he was administered the Last Rites 5 times!

One can imagine young Ed’s embarrassment as he continually encounters his father passed out on a park bench or bumming for spare change in the same neighbourhood where he would play and go to school. He would grow up to hate his father for ditching his responsibilities, leaving the Crockett family practically destitute. Thus, ‘the ghosts” of his father would dog him all the way to college and beyond. Even when his father eventually sobered up for good, Ed could still not reconcile the childhood image of his street-bum father with the sober, hard-working version he has now become.

I thought I was doing the right thing, but it wasn't until the twenty-first century, nearly twenty years into his hard-fought sobriety, that I acknowledged my new relationship with my father was a house of cards, more show than substance. Both of us went through the motions, acting like all was fine and forgiven. It was just superficial. Truth be told, even when he was sober I still thought of my father as an anti-role model. Deep down I still saw him as that shitty father in the Harry Chapin song [Cat's in the Cradle] I had told him about years earlier in Orono. I didn't appreciate his struggle or what he had accomplished even as he was almost miraculously modifying his personal narrative.

Memoirs are very popular, and The Ghosts of Walter Crockett is a strangely fascinating one. For here is a time capsule of life “on the wrong side of the tracks” in 1960s Portland. Elementary school, high school, drinking, partying, college, frat life, dating, marriage, we follow Ed through it all, while the ghosts of Walter materialize throughout. Ed’s perseverance is extraordinary, and the family values he holds so dear are the driving forces in his life as he strives to be the father his own never was.

About the Author

Edward Crockett is a Portland native, raised on Portland’s Munjoy Hill as the baby of eight children. He is a member of the Maine House of Representatives and president of Capt’n Eli Soda. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine and an MBA from Boston College. He has previously worked helping lead several of Maine’s most iconic brands, including Country Kitchen, Hannaford, and Oakhurst Dairy. He lives in North Deering, with his wife, Martha. They are the proud parents of three adult children, Seth, Mattie, and Ted.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Islandport Press (Nov. 8 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 272 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1952143217
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1952143212

This article has been Digiproved © 2022 James FisherSome Rights Reserved  

Be Free: Mountains, Mishaps, and Miracles in Africa by Angela deJong

Author, traveller, and fitness guru Angela deJong is the kind of person I want to be when I grow up. And get fit. And start travelling again. Her solo treks and exploration are an inspiration. Not to mention the mountain climbing; the physical kind as well as those of a metaphorical, spiritual nature.

Here’s what deJong’s publisher says about her travel memoir, Be Free. “When Angela stepped onto African soil for the first time, alone, she never imagined it would be just the beginning of a decade-long pursuit to hike all of the continent’s tallest peaks. It was the mountain trekking that drew her to Africa initially, but as the years went on it became clear that the mishaps and miracles that happened in between the summits were the real draw. With each uncomfortable circumstance and every mistake, there was growth.”

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The book includes gorgeous photos taken throughout Africa, from snowy mountain peaks to fern-riddled jungle, black swaths of lava, and high desert sand, a rainbow palette of the continent’s colour, creating a truly encompassing and sensory travel escape. Be Free draws the reader into these travel expeditions, taking us with the mountaineer-author on a remarkable decade of summits, treks and adventure. Each well-crafted, personal story leaves me inspired, connected, amused, or simply shaking my head in wonder, and admiration. From the author’s forthright introduction, she explains, “I had reservations about following through with this book. Part of the beauty of travelling by yourself is having special memories and feelings that are fully appreciated from your own perspective with no input from anyone else to slightly shift your initial impression of the event.” And with that depth of sincerity, we join deJong, sharing in that connectivity, and wonder.

She continues, “Before I had ever visited another country, I contemplated why I am so compelled to embark on these journeys. Am I running away from something? Am I not truly happy? I feel happy, but maybe I’m not? Is there something I’m searching for? With every adventure, it became very clear I was actually running toward the discovery and understanding of who I am as an individual.” And isn’t this what every explorer, ever traveller, asks themself at least once on their journeys?

This passage, an experience in Cameroon, captures deJong’s sense of openness, a sliver of judicious recklessness, and a willingness to simply jump in. “The air was warm and the sky was speckled with stars as I stepped out of the car and walked toward a small dark-coloured building with a corrugated metal roof. There were no signs indicating this was a taxi station. It certainly was a red flag, but I also couldn’t be certain that I just misunderstood what he was suggesting earlier. Maybe he said next to the taxi office? I was so tired I wasn’t thinking clearly. I walked blindly into the building after Ahmed as he fiddled around to find a light.”

For a well-crafted, honestly shared series of personal adventures in Africa, Angela deJong’s Be Free is an enticing, enjoyable and satisfying read. And yes, I suspect you too will be inspired.

About the Author

Angela deJong is a certified personal trainer, author of Reality Fitness and owner of Acacia Fitness. She graduated from the University of Alberta with a degree in Kinesiology. Angela has travelled solo to every country in Africa that has mountains higher than 3000 metres and summited all of them. She is also the co-author of Polepole: A Training Guide for Kilimanjaro and Other Long-Distance Mountain Treks. Angela lives in Edmonton, Alberta.

This article has been Digiproved © 2022 James Fisher
Acknowledgements: Bill Arnott
Some Rights Reserved  

The Last Good Funeral of the Year: A Memoir by Ed O’Loughlin

The title of Ed O’Loughlin’s memoir refers to the funeral of an old flame which takes place in February, at the start of the pandemic. O’Loughlin hadn’t been involved with the woman, Charlotte, for more than twenty-five years, and he writes that their relationship had been fleeting, that it had not been love, that it belonged to a former time, a time in his youth.

But Charlotte’s death opens a door through which O’Loughlin encounters himself, dissociated and split-off from the tidal pulls of a life. In the course of his work as a foreign correspondent, O’Loughlin witnessed no shortage of trauma, death, and abject suffering; Rwanda (“a few weeks too late”), Israel, Palestine, and the Goma refugee crisis. “What he cared about most was what he might see next, hoping that it might distract himself from whoever he was.” But a singular, very personal trauma, delivered with blunt force, relentlessly pursues him, catching him, finally, in the months following Charlotte’s funeral – the death of his brother Simon who took his life years before. The difference between Charlotte and Simon, O’Loughlin writes poignantly, was that Simon had “lived and died alone.”

“This is a searing book, reminiscent of Joan Didion’s masterpiece, “The Year of Magical Thinking.”

O’Loughlin, fuelled by a new urgency to reclaim the scattered pieces of experience within himself, strives for a sense of chronology. “Time becomes spastic in grief,” he writes. “Time collapses . . .”  He begins to obsess about the last time he saw Charlotte, to discern the real course of their relationship. “The fact remains, his memory has gaps in it, and some of these gaps may be strategically placed.” He recalls trying to sift through all the messages that Simon left behind, trying to make sense, trying to make meaning, finally recycling a message he found through a character in a novel he was then working on. All this effort at retrieval is fuelled by guilt which, though of a particular Irish-Catholic variety, is universally inevitable. “He should have known Charlotte was dying. He should have been in contact with her. He should have said – what? Goodbye? No. He should have said hello.” And with respect to Simon; “Maybe they could have done more for him. Maybe they could have understood him.” Grief, we come to understand, takes one through a minefield of guilt. With deep suspicions about himself, he begins to look for the reasons for the gaps in his experience, the gaps in himself. Does he have Asperger’s? Is it his hearing loss?  He peers at his life like he is studying a blueprint, puzzling out the order and structure in its unfolding.

But the answer is within him, his humanity, the very nature of trauma and loss. It is striking for a memoirist to not use the first person in telling the tale. He refers to his daughters only by their ages, and refers to himself, in relation to Simon, as “the eldest brother.“  We understand why, mid-way through the book. “For years, he prided himself on this old school detachment. Maybe the I whom he rejected wasn’t general, but specific . . . Maybe it was specifically the I who couldn’t bear to keep a diary, who was so dismissive about his past, and his own achievements . . . Maybe renouncing this wasn’t such a selfless gesture. Maybe It was just a shedding of baggage, another excuse for hurrying past.”

The Last Good Funeral of the Year isn’t particularly a pandemic narrative. Covid, when it appears, is really a stand-in for our mortality, the low soft hum O’Loughlin hears which strangely makes him, and us, feel our common humanity, even if paradoxically we find ourselves alone. This is a searing book, reminiscent of Joan Didion’s masterpiece, “The Year of Magical Thinking.” It wheels between the waypoints in O’Loughlin’s life with remarkable dexterity, honesty and grace, and the writing is deeply resonant. What I found here was an exquisite portrait of grief – how it is timeless, utterly self-absorbing, perhaps even self-indulgent. How it visits us in dreams, sneaking past our conscious minds and our unique talents, subsuming our wounds and our idiosyncrasies.  How it takes us and deposits us just where we must be – in the shock of cold, clean waters, in the beautiful and the terrible surge of now.

About the Author

ED O’LOUGHLIN is an Irish Canadian author and journalist. He is the author of four novels, including the Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist Minds of Winter, the critically acclaimed Toploader, and the Booker Prize–longlisted Not Untrue and Not Unkind. As a journalist, Ed has reported from Africa for several papers, including the Irish Times. He was the Middle East correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age of Melbourne. Ed was born in Toronto and raised in Ireland. He now lives in Dublin with his wife and two children.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ House of Anansi Press (March 15 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 208 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1487010605
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1487010607

This article has been Digiproved © 2021 James Fisher
Acknowledgements: Valerie Mills-Milde
Some Rights Reserved  

The Shaytan Bride: A Bangladeshi Canadian Memoir of Desire and Faith by Sumaiya Matin

When you first come across The Shaytan Bride, you might think of it as a story with supernatural themes. The book cover, coupled with the title (Shaytan literally translates to the devil), will make anyone think that it belongs in Indigo’s horror section. But once it has lured you in, you see that it’s in fact a coming of age memoir of a young woman navigating the complexities of faith and healing, family dynamics and trauma, who she wants to be and who she is expected to be.

“One by one, she invites us into some of the most intimate moments of her life: from being imprisoned by her own family to being abused by the very man who claimed to love her.”

Our protagonist, Sumaiya Matin, migrated to Canada at the tender age of 6. Since then, she has battled Islamophobia, tackled the traditional moral codes and restrictions imposed by her parents, and has endured abuse at the hands of the ones who are supposed to love and protect her. Now, writing about one’s past trauma is no easy feat but it’s something that Matin does gracefully. One by one, she invites us into some of the most intimate moments of her life: from being imprisoned by her own family to being abused by the very man who claimed to love her.

I am particularly awed by the way she handles the topic of forced marriage. Using her own traumatic experiences, she explores traces of misogyny, sexism, and racism that are accepted as the norm in most postcolonial South Asian cultures. She says, “A forced arranged marriage is tantamount to legal rape.” It may sound shocking but the truth is rarely easy to talk about. After all, forced marriage is rampant in many nations, but how many dare to call it for what it is?

With that being said, what truly stands out is Matin’s resilience and steadfastness throughout her journey. No matter what life threw at her, she remained true to herself and emerged triumphant, transformed, reborn. At the beginning of the memoir, she explicitly states that “this is not a rescue story,” but I beg to differ. While this does not present your usual narrative of an oppressed Muslim woman being saved by a valiant Western hero, in my eyes, it’s still a story about rescue. A story where the woman rescues herself.

This is a memoir that will unsettle you with its vivid imagery, shock you with truths you have always looked away from, and prompt you to ask questions about what is right and what is considered normal. Rich with historical and political references, The Shaytan Bride beautifully contextualizes the experience of one individual within the larger socio-political landscape of the Bangladeshi community.  Heavy at times, terrifying even, this book truly changed the way I look at marriages, cultural implications, and family obligations. If you are looking for a thought-provoking read to jolt you out of your comfort zone, then this book is for you.

About the Author

Sumaiya Matin is a writer, part-time social worker/psychotherapist, and strategic advisor for the Ontario government, working on a wide range of public policy files, including anti-racism. She lives in Toronto.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Rare Machines (Sept. 7 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1459747674
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1459747678

This article has been Digiproved © 2021 James Fisher
Acknowledgements: Noor Ferdous
Some Rights Reserved  

Even the Sidewalk Could Tell: How I Came Out to My Wife, My Three Children, and the World by Alon Ozery

As much as I love memoirs, and especially memoirs from those less conventional writers (those written by figures who are not well known), I always approach them with a little bit of trepidation. The things that drive people to write memoirs aren’t always pleasant, and while Alon Ozery’s memoir, Even the Sidewalk Could Tell: How I Came Out to My Wife, My Three Children, and the World possesses a fairly tongue-in-cheek title, I opened the book with some hesitation. I shouldn’t have been hesitant. While Ozery tackles the difficulty of lying to yourself, suffering from the resulting mental health issues, and the fear that accompanies major life changes with a great deal of humour, thoughtfulness, and compassion for his past self. Ozery’s memoir is short but impactful, a story about a gay man who tried desperately to live the life he thought he was supposed to have, until the box he stuffed himself into became too tightly closed around him.

Ozery tells his story through the lens of seeking lessons from it. He begins his memoir with a story about walking against a crowd of workers in New York, having all left the office at the end of the workday, and how taking three steps into the wall of people allowed him to get through – taking those steps for a path to open up to you, even if the path is unclear when you take those first steps. I’m not sure I bought all of the morals and metaphors he used in his story – Ozery is clearly a man who enjoys morals in his stories, and that’s not something I connect with well. However, the humour and light, matter-of-fact tone Ozery used to explain how he spent most of his life knowing there was something different about himself and suppressing it so deeply that he never gave voice to the thoughts until he was in his forties. The oldest son of an Orthodox Jewish father and an English mother, Ozery felt a lot of pressure to be the model child, and describes a childhood where he dealt with severe anxiety, later developing slightly more effective coping mechanisms. There is no blame in Ozery’s discussion about his childhood in Israel, his experience in moving to Canada as a teenager, and the way his life fell into the traditional pattern of marriage and children.

It is this compassion and generosity that makes Ozery’s memoir so impactful. The joy with which he tells his story and the honesty with which he explains different parts of his life: his service in the Israeli army, his work as a successful businessman running a commercial bakery, his strong family-centred relationships, and the pressures he felt to live the seemingly perfect life. When Ozery is finally able to start asking questions of himself and talk about sexuality with his therapist, you want to cheer. Ozery’s coming out as a gay man is not especially fraught, but he conveys the anxiety and fear he felt, as well as the realization that he had a supportive network all around him, once he began to reveal his authentic self. Thoughtful in its reflections, this is an excellent memoir to read for anyone who needs an example of strong self-love and care, even after a lifetime of trying to be someone else.


Born in Toronto and raised in Israel, Alon returned permanently to Canada at age twenty-one, earning his undergraduate degree in hospitality management from Ryerson University. He married at age twenty-four and raised three children with his wife. Alon is the Co-Founder of Ozery Bakery, a commercial bakery that sells natural baked goods across North America. He also co-owns the successful Parallel Brothers, a restaurant and sesame butter brand located in Toronto. Alon began exploring his inner self in his midthirties. He is still on that journey today.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Regent Park Publishing (Nov. 5 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 206 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1544524692
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1544524696

An Embarrassment Of Critch’s: Immature Stories from My Grown-Up Life by Mark Critch

Mark Critch is known for being a son, brother, townie, actor, comedian, writer, father, husband, television star, ex-husband, husband again, author and most proudly a Newfoundlander and Labradorian first. His talent can be seen weekly on the CBC starting in the award-winning show This Hour has 22 Minutes. This is Crutch’s follow-up memoir to “Son of a Critch: A Childish Newfoundland Memoir”.

Travel along to small-town Trinity, Newfoundland then all the way to Kandahar and almost everywhere in between. The stories are both informative and laugh-out-loud funny as Critch makes his mark of filling his childhood dream of being an entertainer.

To be honest I didn’t know much about Mark Critch until I saw him one evening on the local news. He wasn’t on my local News doing an interview or a sketch bit. He was there as a proud Newfoundlander and Labradorian calling out PETA VP Sam Simon and actress Pamela Anderson as they tried to hand off a million-dollar cheque to buy out the sealing licenses from the NL Fishermen and women. Once you read what Critch does next, I promise you’ll be a fan of his for life.

The most touching chapter I read was “The Road” in which Critch shares about his personal life. His 22 minutes castmates and changing of different actors and actresses but all in all the main thing with this chapter I think it shows that how he embraces the ups and downs in life.  Showing that Critch is a real person just like the rest of us even though his career is in the spotlight.

Even though Critch has made a career of making fun of a lot of politicians and famous people he’s able to do this with the warmest regard. Not everyone could handle this kind of career because not everybody can go on TV and make fools of themselves for our viewing pleasure.

It’s amazing how Critch always stays true to his Canadian roots and he’s especially a proud Newfoundlander and Labradorian with his rise in fame over the years. It’s very apparent that Critch’s talent is on a global scale. I highly recommend this memoir for anyone who wants to unwind and have a few laughs. Two thumbs up!


MARK CRITCH is one of the most recognizable faces in Canadian comedy and has won multiple awards for both writing and performance. For fourteen years, he has starred on CBC’s flagship show, This Hour Has 22 Minutes. As an anchor and “roving reporter,” he has brought celebrities and politicians to Canadian living rooms across the nation. He is the host of CBC’s Halifax Comedy Festival and has written for and appeared in CBC’s world-renowned Just for Laughs series.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Viking (Oct. 5 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 224 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0735235090
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0735235090

Memories on the Bounty: A Story of Friendship, Love, and Adventure by Janet Coulter Sanford

Bounty, Lunenburg, NS 2012

Oct. 29, 2012, was a sad day in nautical history as the replica tall ship Bounty sank due to damage from being caught in Hurricane Sandy off the coast of the eastern U.S. A little over eight years later, on December 5th, 2020, Roy Boutilier, one of the original crew members of that ship, quietly passed away in Nova Scotia from Alzheimer’s disease. Roy, who had no previous sailing knowledge, was a last-minute substitute crewman for the hand-built replica built in Lunenburg in 1960. The ship was commissioned by MGM studios for the making of the movie “Mutiny on the Bounty” starring Marlon Brando and Leslie Howard. The crew’s mission was to sail it to Tahiti and move it around various locations there as filming required. Some, like Roy, were even employed as extras on the set and can be seen in the movie if you know who to look for. He was even befriended by Marlon Brando himself!

Someone who knew Roy well was Janet Coulter Sanford. She and her husband had been friends with Roy and his wife Bev for years before Roy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2017. Janet was quite used to hearing Roy talk about his time on the Bounty and never thought much about it until she realized that these stories would be slowly shut away in Roy’s brain, never to be heard of again. “What a waste,” she thought. Determined to create a small book of remembrances for Roy’s family and friends, she soon realized that Roy had all kinds of stories and a host of memorabilia to go with it.

I was there a long time that first day—astounded and at the material Roy had amassed. Right away I could see that the twenty-five page account I had originally envisioned would never suffice for this rich, little-known story. Encouraged by my enthusiastic reaction, Rov asked, "What do you think, Jan? There's a lot of terrific stuff here, isn't there?"
"Yes," I agreed. "You have a wonderful story here. I really had no idea there was so much to tell."
Neither of us said anything for a few moments. And then, almost shyly, Roy continued. "I bet you could write a great book about all this. What do you say, Jan?"

So, despite all my misgivings, I heard myself say, "Yes, Roy, we're going to write a book! " We would tell the story of Bounty—its Nova Scotian  beginnings, the voyage to Tahiti, and its starring movie role. We would tell the stories of the men who sailed with him. We would sort through Roy's photographs and slides and preserve some of those moments in time. Alzheimer's might someday rob my old friend of those memories, but his story would not be lost.
I was not aware of it at the time, but I was actually embarking on something more important than just retelling Roy's Bounty stories. But that would only become clear to me as the months passed.

The result is a beautifully wrought memoir of both Roy and the Bounty and the time spent aboard her, and the years after as Roy returned to Nova Scotia and the business of making a living, like so many other of the crew, did. Ms. Coulter Sanford manages to track down two other shipmates of Roy, and their subsequent meeting after all these years is quite poignant, as they pick up where they left off, and tell more stories, new ones that Jan hasn’t heard yet. Another touching moment is when, in 2012, the Bounty visits Lunenburg once again and Roy meets a descendant of Fletcher Christian, the leader of the mutineers. Weeks later, the Bounty is no more after Hurricane Sandy is done with her. With many of Roy’s photos (colour and black & white), newspaper clippings and other ephemera, Memories on the Bounty is a perfect softcover keepsake book for anyone fascinated with nautical history.


Janet Coulter Sanford is a book lover. Throughout her thirty-year career as an English teacher, she championed Canadian literature and fostered a love of reading in many students. A graduate of Mount Allison and Dalhousie Universities, she lives in Moncton, NB, with her husband, John, and her incorrigible golden retriever, Kristy. Memories on the Bounty is her debut book.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Nimbus Publishing Limited (July 27 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 176 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1771089571
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1771089579

This article has been Digiproved © 2021 James FisherSome Rights Reserved  

On Opium: Pain, Pleasure, and Other Matters of Substance by Carlyn Zwarenstein

Part memoir, part history, part policy examination, and part roadmap for the future, On Opium: Pain, Pleasure, and Other Matters of Substance by Carlyn Zwarenstein is captivating, rage-inducing, and most important of all, helpful. Zwarenstein is a regular user of opioids, a fact she explains at the beginning of the book, explaining her chronic illness and pain, her sometimes difficult relationship with opioids and getting her life back, and the use of opioids by writers in the past. Also, the people were quite dependent on weed which recently has taken a jump to the usage of CBD oils for chronic pain or stress. Today, all they have to do is merely take a tour on the web with ‘best CBD oil UK‘ or any other place, and they can get a range of CBD products that they might want to have. Coming back to our previous discussion, this first part was originally published in a slightly different form as Opium Eater: The New Confessions. What struck me most in this first section was Zwarenstein’s careful examination of her own substance use, a use which would be considered more “legitimate” by many, and how she aligns it with those “less legitimate” uses. This compassion and immediate breakdown of the line that exists between those dubbed addicts of illicit drugs, and those who begin by using prescribed opioids to treat a condition. Zwarenstein, while examining her own use, a use she admits helps her function, but also – she likes the feeling. How does that, then, make her “different” than those who use illicit drugs? In the subsequent parts of the book, she explores the history of substance use, the creation of stronger and stronger opioids, the opioid crisis, and the very personal stories of those caught in the midst of this maelstrom: substance users from all walks, prescribers, researchers, and the programs which actually work.

“Detailing the relationships she built through her research, Zwarenstein offers a blend of anecdote and evidence to pave the way for the real meat of her book, a radical solution to substance use: decriminalization and managed use programs.”

Zwarenstein demands that we stop looking at substance use through narrow windows. If someone is using a substance, whether it’s prescribed or not, they are trying to treat themselves so they can function. Detailing the relationships she built through her research, Zwarenstein offers a blend of anecdote and evidence to pave the way for the real meat of her book, a radical solution to substance use: decriminalization and managed use programs, perhaps assisted with medication that can alleviate symptoms of opiate withdrawal and the like. She refers to the mountain of evidence that indicates demonizing substance users is ineffective and punitive, as well as the pervasive idea that the only way to manage addiction is to quit the substance entirely, a practice which is not realistic for many. Some people can become clean, some require maintenance therapy with methadone, buprenorphine, or other drugs, and others would do better in managed use programs or access to safe supply. Continuing to criminalize substance use is criminalizing poverty, trauma, and marginalized populations. Zwarenstein is matter-of-fact in her examination of the social determinants of health, as her work and some of her interviewees in this book were unhoused people, who rightfully point out the many issues with many of the supports provided to them requiring them to abstain from substance use. How do you ask someone to give up the drug which is keeping them alive, in order to receive services? Zwarenstein is adamant that because her substance use is prescribed, she is white and middle-class, that hers is considered acceptable while others’ is not.

In my professional life, I engage with a lot of research on substance use and the efficacy of harm reduction, which has sealed my support for harm reduction strategies. Even so, I found this revelatory, with its comprehensive blend of story, history, and investigation. This takes the work being done across North America and packages it up for everyone from the layperson to the lawmaker to read and digest. In On Opium, Zwarenstein challenges us to imagine a world in which we toss out our antiquated, actively harmful ideas about substance use, stop thinking of addicts versus “legitimate” users, and embrace harm reduction in a meaningful way, with decriminalization and safe supply. CBC Books listed this as one of the fall’s must-read nonfiction books, and I agree. I absolutely recommend this book: its compassion, accessibility, readability, radical proposal, and examination of privilege will leave you the tools to demand better.


Carlyn Zwarenstein is a writer based in Toronto. Her writing has appeared in the Guardian, the Toronto Star, and Vice. She is also the author of Opium Eater: The New Confessions.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Goose Lane Editions (Sept. 14 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 368 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1773101811
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1773101811

This article has been Digiproved © 2021 James Fisher
Acknowledgements: Alison Manley
Some Rights Reserved  

Gone Viking II: Beyond Boundaries by Bill Arnott

As we remember the “Before Times” and long for the “After Times,” what better companion could we have on our journey than Royal Geographical Society Fellow Bill Arnott, whose wit, charm, and prolific talent entertain, educate, and enlighten us as we accompany him on his rollicking adventures through space and time.

Arnott is an explorer-adventurer-humorist and all-around bon vivant. Gone Viking II: Beyond Boundaries is more than a travelogue. The writing is personal, good-humoured, and completely guileless. Whether he is flipping his kayak in shark-infested waters or introducing himself on an elevator to a woman who turns out to be Nova Scotia’s Lieutenant Governor, Arnott never loses his sangfroid, sense of wonder, and whimsy. As he describes himself in one of his poems, “Man on the outside, child within / Snowy whiskers surrounding a childish grin.”

“His sense of playfulness and love of life shine through on every page.”

His sense of playfulness and love of life shine through on every page. His prodigious powers of description and observation, combined with an encyclopedic knowledge of flora and fauna, including the human animal, keep his readers informed and entertained as he careens from one adventure to the next. There is also a mystical through-line; surviving death-defying and near-death experiences, he has conversations with strangers about the meaning of life and catches The Celestine Prophecy just as it mysteriously falls from a shelf while he walks through a bookstore in Portland.

Gone Viking II is rewarding on a number of different levels for the many pleasures, fascinating people, and pulsating poetry Arnott kindly shares with his readers.


Bill Arnott is the award-winning, bestselling author of Gone Viking: A Travel Saga and Gone Viking II: Beyond Boundaries. For his expeditions, Bill’s been granted a Fellowship at London’s Royal Geographical Society. When not trekking the globe with a small pack, journal, and laughably outdated camera phone, Bill can be found on Canada’s west coast, making music and friends.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ RMB | Rocky Mountain Books (Nov. 5 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 312 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 177160543X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1771605434
This article has been Digiproved © 2021 James Fisher
Acknowledgements: DR. MANUEL MATAS, MD, FRCPC
Some Rights Reserved  

Excerpt from Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt’s Peacekeeper’s Daughter: A Middle East Memoir

Peacekeeper’s Daughter parachutes the reader into the Lebanese Civil War, the Palestinian crisis, and the wave of terrorism—including the bombing of the American Embassy—that ravaged Beirut at the height of the siege. This novelistic memoir moves from Jerusalem to Tiberius, from the disputed No-Man’s Land of the Golan Heights to Damascus, and on to Beirut by way of Tripoli, crossing borders that remain closed to this day. It’s June 1982. Twelve-year-old Tanya and her family are preparing to leave their home on the military base in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, to move to Israel, where her father will serve a one-year posting with the United Nations. While they’re packing up, Israel invades Lebanon. The President-elect of Lebanon is assassinated. Thousands of Palestinian men, women, and children are murdered at the Sabra-Shatila refugee camps in southern Beirut. The Middle East’s relative peace explodes into waves of violence. It is in the midst of this maelstrom that the family arrives in Israel and settles into an apartment. The simple act of walking down the street is fraught with peril. Violence may come at them from any direction at any time. Peacekeeper’s Daughter is a coming-of-age story, as well as an exploration of family dynamics, the shattering effects of violence and war—and the power of memory itself to reconcile us to our past selves, to the extraordinary places we have been and sights we have seen.

At school that Monday, I sat in the library after lunch. My grade seven class was in the basement for band practice, but I had a free period. Since I’d only started at the school in January and didn’t play a band instrument, I was exempted from music class. I spent my free time on the top floor in the reading lounge, next to Mr. Thierry’s classroom. After that, I would study advanced French while my class did beginner, baby French in our regular classroom downstairs. At dinner time at home, I took perverse pleasure in imitating the way they counted to ten with their thick accents.

Suddenly, there was a deafening boom, a sound louder than I’d ever heard before. Everything shook. The room went black. Books fell off the shelves. The chairs next to me rolled over. A window cracked and split, sending shards flying.

After the huge sound of the blast, there was a thick quiet. I sat alone in the darkened library, assessing the damage. What just happened? Was it an earthquake? What should I do?

Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt by Louise Abbott

A light shone around me. “C’est l’heure du français,” Monsieur Thierry announced. I stood up, eyes blinking, and followed his flashlight beam into the classroom adjacent to the library. For the next hour, we conjugated French verbs by candlelight. “Que je puisse, que tu puisses.” Monsieur Thierry’s lips pushed forward when he spoke, as if all the words were teetering on the edge of his mouth, ready to dribble out. I thought of Richie and how puisse sounded like the English word kiss.

Whether Monsieur Thierry had forgotten about the blast that had just shaken our school or decided that his curriculum was more important, we carried on covering the board with our white-chalked declensions made visible by the candles on the teacher’s desk and the shafts of faint afternoon light coming in from the upper casement windows.

We were a small group, our numbers at the American Community School greatly reduced by both the civil war and the war with Israel. As tensions in the city escalated, most diplomats packed up their families and returned to their own countries. The only new influx of expats to the city were fifteen hundred U.S. Marines sent by President Reagan to man the five U.S. warships anchored a few kilometres offshore.

               After Advanced French, I joined my class on the first floor for grade seven English. Mr. Turner examined us with his one good eye, while his glass eye stared straight ahead. Its fixed look unnerved me. It was like staring at a camera. I imagined it photographing my secret thoughts—a bionic eye with special powers.

               “A bomb has exploded nearby, at the American Embassy,” Mr. Turner informed the class once we had taken our seats. “Fortunately for us, our school remains unscathed.” He paused, but only for a breath. “Please take out your copies of Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. We will read aloud, beginning at Chapter Three.”

               My hands picked up the paperback and flipped mechanically to the correct page while my mind wrestled to process this new information. I raised my hand. “How close did we come to being hit?”

 Mr. Turner’s glass eye stared at a distant spot behind my head while his good eye looked out the window. “We’ll find out soon enough,” he said.

It was a relief to get lost in the story of a faraway place and forget about what was going on in the city around us.

               “Be careful on the way home,” Mr. Turner said before dismissing the class for the day. “See you tomorrow.”

               Our regular route through the campus was blocked off by red tape marked DANGER. We were shepherded into two lines and made to show our identity cards and hand our schoolbags over for inspection by armed French military police at three different makeshift checkpoints inside the gate, before finally being given permission to exit onto the street. Sirens blared nearby, and traffic on the main street was barred. The empty street was an eerie sight compared to the usual noisy tangle of cars and pedestrians.

               My brother walked a few paces ahead of me. “Did you hear it?” I asked him. I watched the back of his head nod yes.

               “I was in art,” he mumbled. It was hard to hear from behind. I got as close to him as I could, but the passage was only wide enough to walk single file.

“We left class and went there.” He stepped onto the street to avoid a pile of garbage on the sidewalk. In the absence of waste removal services, the citizens of Beirut piled their garbage in huge stinking mounds on the sidewalk. Those nearest to the beach threw it into the Mediterranean. After almost ten years of anarchy and civil war, the city resembled a massive dump.

“What do you mean? Where did you go?” Our school never went on field trips of any kind; it was too dangerous to leave the gated compound.

“Mrs. Gunthrey wanted to see what had happened. Her husband works at the embassy, and she needed to make sure he was all right. So she took us there.”

“Was he okay?” I kicked at an empty sardine can, shuffling it back and forth between my feet like a soccer ball.

“Took a while, but we found him. He was all white. Covered in dust. He thought his arm might be broken. He was holding onto a woman whose face was cut up. Her eyes were full of blood.”

After that, my brother was quiet for a long time. I kept my head down and followed his footsteps exactly, walking in the street to sidestep more garbage and a car parked on the sidewalk, also a common occurrence in this city without traffic lights or police surveillance.

“I saw a car wrapped around a telephone pole,” my brother said in a voice so low I thought maybe I hadn’t heard him properly.

               “What? How?”

               “It’s the force of the blast,” he said. “It picks up anything in its way.”

The Peacekeeper’s Daughter will be released in late September 2021. From Thistledown Press.

This article has been Digiproved © 2021 James FisherSome Rights Reserved  

A Womb in the Shape of a Heart: My Story of Miscarriage and Motherhood by Joanne Gallant

“I dream of running away. Not from my family or my life, but from a body that feels broken and a mind that pumps out anxiety like radiation from Chernobyl; a poisonous, invisible substance bent on my future destruction. I wonder what it would be like to have a body deliver a baby safely, on time, and without complication. How would it feel to be relaxed and sure of my body’s ability to bear children?”

It is challenging for me to think of Joanne Gallant, the smiling, happy person I know from Instagram speaking the words quoted above from her debut book A Womb in the Shape of a Heart. It may be even more difficult to believe that I, a sexagenarian male with no children would even be interested in reading about miscarriages and motherhood. Definitely not in my wheelhouse, yet I had to know if this advance reading copy sent by Nimbus Publishing would hold my interest, or should I try and get someone else (i.e. a mother) to review this book?

A #ReadAtlantic book!

Well, Ms. Gallant certainly held my interest from start to finish. A Womb in the Shape of a Heart is not so much about the issues of miscarriage and motherhood, but about the humanity of personal trauma. She is an astonishingly good writer, which for a first book is a premium. Her imagery and her descriptions of her internal turmoil and constant grief after so many miscarriages are never tiresome. But they are emotionally exhausting for the reader. Her pain is very real and not just her physical pain, but her mental pain too, for which she wisely seeks professional help. She might have even considered adoption in Florida or elsewhere to get to experience motherhood. No one can understand or feel such pain other than the one suffering through it.

The day of my first appointment, I tell Joey I am going to speak to a therapist. He is encouraging and hugs me before I leave. He, too, is afraid of who I am becoming. I didn’t know I was capable of such anger and sadness. It frightens me to consider that maybe this is who I have been all along. That maybe my entire life has been a lie until now. Maybe my miscarriages are peeling back the layers I had kept hidden behind a sunshiny front. Maybe this is who I truly am.

It is not imperative that I go into the specifics of Ms. Gallant’s and her husband Joey’s ordeals in trying to conceive and move past miscarriage after miscarriage. No words will suffice to explain what goes on in the pages of A Womb in Shape of a Heart. It is a book you have to read and permit the author’s words and imagery to take you into her world, a world of love, tears, grief, persistence and finally, joy.

A Miramichi Reader “Best Non-Fiction” choice of 2021!


Joanne Gallant is a pediatric nurse and writer. She is a graduate of Mount Allison University and the University of Alberta. In 2019, she was selected by the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia as an apprentice writer in the Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with her husband and son. A Womb in the Shape of a Heart is her debut book.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Nimbus Publishing Limited (Sept. 30 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 248 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1771089768
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1771089760

*The Miramichi Reader encourages you to shop independent! However, shopping at a bookstore is not always possible, so we are supplying an link. Please note if you choose to purchase this book (or Kindle version) through Amazon using the link below we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you cannot see the Amazon ad below (if you are using an ad blocker, for instance) here is the link: Thanks! 

This article has been Digiproved © 2021 James FisherSome Rights Reserved  

Off The Charts: What I Learned From My Almost Fabulous Life In Music by Kat Goldman

Are you a musician, songwriter, or just love anything music? If yes, this book by Canadian songwriter Kat Goldman is for you.

Off The Charts is Goldman’s first book celebrating the ups and downs as well and the ins and outs as she navigates her way through the music industry as a songwriter.

“The book is packed with her funny personal experiences as a performer and it will make you laugh out loud more than once.”

The book is layered with short easy to read chapters about what Goldman has learned from her almost fabulous life in music. She is a songwriter first and foremost and she performs her own songs in high hopes that some other artist will someday sing her work. The book is packed with her funny personal experiences as a performer and it will make you laugh out loud more than once. She has a lot of great advice to give to any up-and-comer with her delightful insight and wisdom.

Goldman first states that the songwriter can be an outsider as they are looking to break into the industry. She gives real-life advice on dating a “Rock Star”, and how to handle fans and their banter. At one point she even refers to the music business as lousy but anyone working their way up the ladder in any business can surely relate to this!

It’s excellent how Goldman explains the importance of such things as the vocal warm-up can be, with comparing herself to a vocal athlete. This makes so much sense because your voice is your only tool in demonstrating one’s ability. Other charters talk about how to find your look to help you stand out. Another interesting chapter talks about showcasing any special talents but Goldman stresses the most important thing is just be you.

Some other topics Goldman addresses are the dos and don’ts for promoting your music. The CD may be obsolete now but you’ll still need a method of giving your songs for someone to listen to. Being an opening act? To tour or not to tour? And the booking agent with their dangling carrot. But, most importantly do you keep a day job? Goldman gives her thoughts and paints an excellent picture within these experiences.

One of my favourite stories Goldman shares is about how she almost became famous a few times. The thrill of being flown into another city to meet some high-profile music executive. Only to learn her look wasn’t right or that she didn’t have the right hit song?! Through all this, she still makes you laugh and smile despite a missed opportunity. Also, I enjoyed how she shares her journey of moving to a new city, going back to University and even falling in love.

As someone who isn’t a musician nor has any aspirations of being one, Goldman shares advice to her younger self which is something we can all relate to. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who has ever dreamed or needs to follow their dreams. It’s a refreshing read, will keep you engaged and wanting to know more about Kat Goldman’s life.


KAT GOLDMAN is one of Canada’s most celebrated songwriters. She has made four critically acclaimed albums and her songs have been covered by Grammy-nominated band, The Duhks, and American folk hero Dar Williams, among many others. She lives in Toronto. This is her first book.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Sutherland House; Illustrated edition (Feb. 9 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 170 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1989555322
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1989555323

*The Miramichi Reader encourages you to shop independent! However, shopping at a bookstore is not always possible, so we are supplying an link. Please note if you choose to purchase this book (or Kindle version) through Amazon using the link below we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you cannot see the Amazon ad below (if you are using an ad blocker, for instance) here is the link: Thanks! 

This article has been Digiproved © 2021 James Fisher
Acknowledgements: Shawna Butler
Some Rights Reserved