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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 4 October 2010
This autobiograpy traces Norman MacLean's life from early boyhood, offering some beautiful descriptions of the west coast of Scotland and its' people from the mid 1940s. Later on we learn more about the crazy antics and dissiapted behaviour of the adult Norman, who struggles with alcoholism throughout his life.

Having a strong affinity with the west coast of Scotland, I lapped up the first few chapters, thoroughly enjoying the descriptions of a life and lifestyle that has long since disappeared. I was less comfortable with the second half of the book, which seems to degenerate into a list of names, places, encounters with women - described with an explicitness that seems unnecessary - and innumerable alcoholic escapades. As such, the books loses its early rhythm and becomes quite difficult to follow. A missed opportunity for a conscientious editor perhaps?
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on 17 November 2015
I like it because of my interest in Highland piping. Norman had a good childhood up to a point but it was spoilt by events and as he was impressionable it affected his future. A very talented man who became overcome by alcohol.
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on 19 June 2011
Prior to reading this, I had never heard of Norman Maclean - it was an Amazon recommendation based on prior purchases of Scottish and Gaelic-related items, followed up on a whim. Maclean turns out to be Highland comedian and intermittent clinical alcoholic, but also a kind of Celtic Renaissance Man - writer of novels in Gaelic, pipe tunes, etc. The main lesson learned is that there is no situation anywhere in the world, no matter the certainty of impending death it involves - and Maclean encounters a few, due to the combination of his principal pastimes - from which one cannot escape by the judicious deployment of the Great Highland Bagpipe. Also provides a first-hand account of life as a Gaelic-speaker in the post-war years, and the Glasgow of that time. So recommended, if you are interested in that kind of thing.
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on 4 July 2010
A remarkable book.

Life is messy, often blemished by bad decisions or no decisions at all.

Norman MacLean book is about addiction, in his case alcohol. It all looks random, unwise, distasteful if you are reading from a safe distance - that's how it was at ground central. The mess of it all explains how and why people end up in doorways despite their talents.

Norman's life is at the bottom of a glass and this book corrals the shards of that glass. At times incoherent, at times detailled. That's what having a life underpinned by addiction is like.

Then there's the cultural bipolarism. Not a small issue, but if you exist in the cosy security of the Anglo-American world you wouldn't ever think about it.

Just like Tormod/Norman, this book should be known about beyond Scotland. As should the memorable documentary about the MacLean story shown on BBC Alba.
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on 5 March 2012
I couldn't out this book down. Well written. Funny in parts, and also sad. This gifted man with a self destruct button. I highly recommend this book.
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on 8 August 2010
I hope that Norman got enough brass fron the book proceeds to pay for the council renovations !. A sad tale and I would doubt that the writing of it was all that carthartic, Despite his seeming search for love and acceptance I wonder if he could recognise real love, as there would appear to be confusion between two four letter words both beginning with L.
He is honest in recognising his weakness, but I can't help feeling sad for the people he has disapointed on his life journey
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on 16 January 2010
Brilliant mind, champion piper, well known Scottish personality who had it all - ruined by the demon drink. An honest book which exposes the flaws in the man and gives some indications for his dependance on alcohol. At one time a brilliant comic but as one reads then he increasingly does not endear himself to the reader. From an initial perspective of sympathy for a life unfullfilled due to factors outwith his control he turns out to be not very likeable - I don't think he likes himself really.
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on 22 September 2013
how one man could waste his great talents is very difficult to understand and harder to read about - can only hope that his life improves from now on
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on 10 July 2013
I have always been a fan of Norman MacLean and when I was told about this book I had to read it. He is a fascinating flawed genius.Loved it.
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on 8 April 2014
Excellent Read. I remember Norman from the late 50s when a friend of us met at the Highlanders Institute in Elmbank Street . Great times.
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