Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words
Kindle US: YES UK: YES Nook: NO Smashwords: NO Paper: YES
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Jamie Wakefield’s claim to fame is writing about the game Magic: The Gathering, as both a tournament reporter and participant. He has published two books about his Magic exploits, The Quest for the Pro Tour and a sequel, as well as reporting for various other venues. When he published this book, Wakefield was living in Spain with his girlfriend Wendy (a featured character in the book). If you visit the author’s website, you’ll see some major changes have happened since.
A chance meeting with a woman from his distant past sets the author on the road to romance and spurs an eventual relocation to Spain.
Recently I reviewed Life in another Country, a book that shared the experiences of several people living in countries foreign to them. Comparing this book to that one might not be fair for several reasons. That book was aiming at presenting a broader range of experience. It isn’t possible for a book of ten stories to go to the same depth of experience as one that presents the story of a single person. Yet I couldn’t help but make the comparison and feel that what I got from reading I’m not an Alcoholic, I’m just European is what it seemed the other book was aiming for and didn’t quite succeed in doing.
I’m not an Alcoholic … gives a firsthand account of Wakefield’s experiences adapting to a new country and culture, spiced with a real life romance as a secondary storyline. He includes the facts (where, what, how) and plenty about the logistical nightmares involved in making something like this work, but also gives a sense of how he felt and what it was like to adapt to his new surroundings. Wakefield does a good job of contrasting life in his native state of Vermont with that in Spain and the other European countries he visits. Through the entire experience, Wakefield’s sense of humor shines through, as you learn about bullfighting, nocturnal Spaniards, and many other things, including the reason for the book’s title.
One minor nit I have to pick is that a few times the author explains a subject that he has already discussed earlier in the book. For example, he mentions multiple times the habit Spanish waiters have of not bringing you your bill until requested, with an explanation of the reason for this.
Wakefield has supported himself at least partially as a writer and continued to do so in Spain. One line in the book I found interesting and wanted to mention that doesn’t belong in the review is this:
A recent article in Time magazine stated, “There are more people who want to be writers than there are people who want to be readers.”
I’m not sure if I agree, although I can see where that feeling could come from. What is your opinion?
No significant issues.
Rating: **** Four stars