Very rarely do I read memoirs, particularly from unknown writers, but I’ll fess up and admit that And You May Find Yourself was a rip-roaring read. The story follows the trials and tribulations of a Scottish lad called Paul Dalgarno who moves from Glasgow to Melbourne with his Australian born wife Jess. It is an émigré tale of sorts but one with so much humour that I literally had to stifle my chortles so I didn’t wake my wife while I read it late into the night.
Dalgarno sets the tone with lines this..
In Glasgow, before buying our dream apartment, we’d lived in a flat above an Indian restaurant. The bathroom carpet was piss-hard, rife with the smell of unseen cocks.
Perhaps it is the fact that my own immigrant story is so similar to Paul Dalgarno’s that made it instantly relatable. Or it could be his natural storytelling ability which satisfied my Celtic soul. The cultural differences between this wide-eyed Scot and the new life he was starting with his family made me smile in recognition..
Watching Kolya boot his ball against Stefan’s living room window made me think he was happy, that the suburbs might be our calling. I looked at Finn in Jess’s arms. It was all he’d ever known: he was suburban by default. In years to come I might tell him improbable-sounding tales of streets lined with dog shit and crisp packets, people with knife scars on their faces.
If you are expecting this to be some feel-good story it most definitely isn’t. The book chronicles the daily struggles of an entire family squeezed into a small living room in Paul’s mother-in-law’s house in the outer suburbs, getting around Melbourne in a creaky Holden which breaks down frequently, facing internal demons, doubts about his ability to be a good father, a marriage that loses its passion, disconnection from his kids and endless ‘cracking of shits’.
Something untoward had befallen me. My family wouldn’t starve; we had the means to maintain basic hygiene; we had a roof over our heads – not our own roof but another man’s, but a roof; we had a rusted, faded car; I had a job; my health, my family’s, was as good as we had any right to expect. The whole thing was just terrible – I couldn’t cope.
Even though Paul’s story is unique it reflects the experience of so many men who struggle with self-doubt as they strive to make their mark on the world or at least not up-end up like their fathers. There are no signposts pointing the way and sometimes you may find yourself in another part of the world trying to raise a family as best you can. This story is as real as it gets and all with an internal soundtrack playing quietly in the background.
When it comes it changes your life..
Read a free sample of And You May Find Yourself below..
The Hero Returns (related link)
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