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9780385680363_cover Enlarge Cover
5 of 5
1 rating
list price: $32.95
also available: Paperback
published: Oct 2014
publisher: Doubleday Canada

Where I Belong

by Alan Doyle

reviews: 1
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personal memoirs
5 of 5
1 rating
list price: $32.95
also available: Paperback
published: Oct 2014
publisher: Doubleday Canada

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.

Contributor Notes

ALAN DOYLE is a Canadian musician and actor, best known as a lead singer in the Canadian folk-rock band Great Big Sea. In 2012, Doyle released his first solo album, Boy on Bridge, which made the top twenty on the Canadian Albums chart. Alan lives in St. John's, Newfoundland. Visit him at alandoyle.ca.

Editorial Review

Named one of the Book Guys’ (CTV Ottawa) Best Reads of the Season
“The rollicking new book is Doyle’s portrait of his youth in the Newfoundland fishing village of Petty Harbour. Forget your early days as a Starbucks barista: his first job was cutting out cod tongues down on the wharf, just one of the places where he soaked up the culture and music that would later shape his hit band.”
Georgia Straight
“Doyle’s recently published memoir is so packed with colourful characters and stories, it’s almost hard to believe they all come from real life. . . . Doyle’s storytelling is so rich. . . . Written in a warm, chatty tone, with a sprinkling of illustrations, Where I Belong invites the reader to experience a Newfoundland that many ‘Mainlanders’ may not know.”
Guelph Mercury
“A heartwarming read. . . . Doyle’s rollicking work shares his childhood from birth to his teens in the fishing village of Petty Harbour. . . . readers will be engaged by vignettes of Doyle’s life in a small house on rocky Skinner’s Hill in Petty Harbour.”
Rocky Mountain Outlook (Canmore)
“While Alan Doyle writes an unflinching account of his boyhood. . . . practical things can be learned from reading Where I Belong: how to play certain guitar chords; how to bake eight loaves of bread; how to cut out tongues.”
The Packet (Newfoundland)
“A poignant and often comical memoir of growing up in Petty Harbour.”
The Telegram (St. John’s)
“[A] rough-hewn saga growing up poor but happy on the Rock. . . . You’ll love the skillful way Doyle teases his involvement with the band into the narrative. Yes, you’ll hear the whole wonderful story of how ‘Ordinary Day’ was created and, much as you may love that song now, you’ll love it even more with the added knowledge. But even better is the way you see Doyle slowly but inevitably following the invisible flight path that would take him to the career he was always meant to have.”
Toronto Star
“Funny, tender and practically glowing with rose-coloured nostalgia, Doyle’s childhood tale comes across as a textbook example of doing-the-best-with-what-you-have and the amiable, resourceful nature of Newfoundland’s inshore fishing communities . . .  a community that seemed to be the last vestige of another world.”
Calgary Herald
“Alternately laugh-out-loud funny, tearfully nostalgic, and stunningly beautiful, the stories in Where I Belong have nothing to do with the famous and everything to do with the legendary. . . . With Where I Belong Alan has crafted a coming-of-age story that reads almost like a male version of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn in its Irish sensibility, episodic narrative, and rapturously detailed universe small in physical scale but infinite in color and character. . . . The beating heart of life itself runs through this book.”
Huffington Post
“Warm and witty.”
The Halifax Chronicle-Herald
“An engaging account of a colourful childhood. . . . [A] funny and fascinating read, written in a style that captures the eccentricities of Newfoundland culture.”
Ottawa Citizen
“Doyle reaches back into his childhood, reminiscing with plenty of humour and self-deprecation and creating a poignant portrait of small-town Newfoundland. . . . His stories are rich and colourful.”
The Telegram (St. John’s)
"Doyle reaches back into his childhood, reminiscing with plenty of humour and self-deprecation and creating a poignant portrait of small-town Newfoundland. . . . His stories are rich and colourful.”
—The Telegram (St. John’s)
"Where I Belong chronicles Doyle's childhood and remarkable rise with the lyrical and candid storytelling fans know and love from his music.” —CBC Books
“It reads like the man himself—charming and funny, down to earth, eager to entertain and naturally entertaining. Doyle weaves stories of his formative years into a tapestry of great adventure, lessons learned, principals instilled and loads of laughs. You’ll discover delightful characters amidst colourful settings and not one mention of destiny. No, Alan attributes his many achievements to something else entirely . . . ”
Atlantic Business Magazine
“A rolling, jaunty, whiskey-laced ballad, an ode, if you will, that will have you thirsting for more. When I turned the last page, I honestly felt sad. I didn’t want it to end.”
—Jann Arden
“Alan Doyle, musician and raconteur, can now add author to his list of accomplishments. He has an undeniably compelling voice in this book about his early life in Petty Harbour. Funny, wise, and self-deprecating, this book is hard to put down. Alan is a truly great storyteller and his life in a small Newfoundland fishing village is a story dying to be told.”
—Jim Cuddy, of Blue Rodeo
“To many people, Petty Harbour’s geographic isolation, bleak surroundings, and limited economic opportunities would have placed limits on their lives, limits from which they would have never recovered. To my friend Alan Doyle, they were just a challenge to overcome, and this strange and eccentric village would offer a well of experience, enough to fuel a lifetime of creativity. Newfoundland has changed immensely in the past decades, but Petty Harbour held onto its past for much longer than most places, and Alan was lucky enough to remember how wonderful it could be.”
—Bob Hallett, of Great Big Sea
“If you’re lucky enough to have spent any time with Alan, then you may have heard one or two of these stories before. If you haven’t, this book is the next best thing.” —Ed Robertson, of Barenaked Ladies
“There are great big smiles to be found on nearly every page. A beautiful memoir of heart and place.”
—Linwood Barclay, author of A Tap on the Window 
“Doyle is exuberant, irreverent, hilariously funny and a heart-on-the-sleeve Newfoundlander. As a writer, he's all that and a bag of chips . . . . Intimate, saucy and note-perfect. In his own words: Deadly."
—Michael Crummey, author of Galore
“Excellent adventure. I feel like I’ve lived another’s life.”
—Russell Crowe
"Where does Alan’s sound come from? The Catholic side of Petty Harbour, ball hockey behind O’Brien’s Fish Plant, Uncle Ronnie’s band.  He dreamed of being goalie for the Montreal Canadiens (I dreamed of being a rock star).  He lives everything he does. That sound is here in his book.”
—Ken Dryden
“As Great Big Sea’s frontman, Alan Doyle is exuberant, irreverent, hilariously funny and a heart-on-the-sleeve Newfoundlander. As a writer, he’s all that and a bag of chips. Doyle’s description of growing up on the hills and wharves of old world Petty Harbour is intimate, saucy and note-perfect. In his own words: Deadly.”
—Michael Crummey, author of Galore
"A gentle, honest and often hilarious account of life in small-town Newfoundland. Stratocasters, goalie pads, skin mags and cutting tongues, Alan’s charming and sometimes uproarious tale has it all.”
—Edward Riche, author of Rare Birds
“Doyle [is] a master storyteller in a land rich in that resource. Where I Belong brought back some amazing memories of growing up in a small fishing community and what was to be life outside our hometown. From the first time I laid eyes on him, Alan’s been that guy, the funny, charming dude cursed with charisma, with the talent to back it up. This book gives great insight into that super-talented, creative and insightful mind of a true entertainer.”
—Perry Chafe, co-creator/writer of Republic of Doyle
“Alan Doyle the writer, like Alan Doyle the person, is charming, funny, a natural storyteller who can be sweet without sliding into sentimentality, who can be honest without tumbling into darkness. The book breezes along the path that leads to Great Big Sea, and couldn’t feel more authentic. If you know the place, you know these fantastic characters are real.”
—Stephen Brunt, author of Gretzky’s Tears: Hockey, Canada and the Day Everything Changed
“In Where I Belong, Alan uses his natural ‘master storyteller superpower’ to draw you in as a reader in much the same way he does while holding court in the pub or in his own kitchen. This book shines a light on a very particular place and time in Newfoundland’s history, as seen through the eyes of one of the province’s greatest talents.”
—Allan Hawco, co-creator/star of Republic of Doyle

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Reader Reviews

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Loved it!!

I really loved this book. So fun(ny), so informative.

Alan Doyle is a wonderful storyteller and has a beautiful way with words. Reading his memoir really made me feel like I was there with him, in his wonderful world that is Newfoundland!

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