Saga Boy: My Life of Blackness and Becoming

Antonio Michael Downing. Milkweed, $25 (344p) ISBN 978-1-57131-191-7
In this deeply moving memoir, novelist Downing (Molasses) offers a lyrical story “about unbelonging, about placelessness, about leaving everything behind.” As he reflects on the long and arduous path from his youth in a small town in Trinidad to his evangelical teenage years in Northern Ontario to his eventual success as a musician and actor in Toronto, he attempts to understand himself as a Black man toggling between worlds. After his grandmother’s death in 1986 forced Downing, at age 11, to leave his home in Monkey Town, Trinidad, and live with his aunt in rural Canada, he discovered hair metal music, decided to become a “rock’n’roll badass,” and spent more than a decade cycling through a number of identities: “They called me Tony in Trinidad... Mic Dainjah when I toured England with my rock ’n’ roll heroes, Molasses when I crooned soul songs, and Mike D. when I plucked the banjo at folk festivals.” The son of a wandering, absent father—and a sexual assault survivor—Downing traces how he “turned the ugliness of my life into something beautiful” through art and music, eventually finding his “boldest, baddest self” in his 30s as a Canadian pop star by the name of John Orpheus. Suffused with poetic prose that jumps off the page, this inspiring account sings. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/10/2021
Release date: 09/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 344 pages - 978-0-7352-3730-8
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