Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I’m not an Alcoholic, I’m just European / Jamie C. Wakefield

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Travel

Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words

Kindle US:
YES UK: YES Nook: NO Smashwords: NO Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


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?

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four stars


Andrew Ives said...

There probably are more people that want to be writers than readers as it seems deceptively easy.

However, most people don't get around to writing anything, especially when they find out it's quite difficult and give up. Eventually, they appreciating the good writers or at least aspiring writers who've managed to 'go the distance' and write a whole book, whatever it turned out like. Nobody sets out to write a bad book, it just turns out that way for so many.

J.M.Cornwell said...

When someone tells me they always wanted to be a writer but don't have the time, I always wonder if they have the time to read. Most of them don't read, except for the occasional Harlequin romance or newspaper, and most just glance through the popular magazines.

I'd have to say that the quote is pretty accurate, at least in my experience. The only people who don't approach me with, "I always wanted to be a reader but just don't have the time," are people who read a lot of books. How can you not have time to read if you're watching 4-5 hours of TV a day and even more on weekends?

Elizabeth Ann West said...

I don't take that comment as a negative. Think about it. The idea of writing a book is viewed as a worthy endeavor. Until you make it your day job, it sounds like a wonderfully enlightening, worthwhile "project" for someone to do. As a hobby project, it communicates you are educated or unique, have a special story to tell, all positive things.

But somehow the distinction of being "well-read" isn't quite as positive in all circle. You read a lot? You must not have a life. (Not true, just going with gross assumptions here). You must be a know-it-all, or hard to talk to. Etc.

There are more people who would love to introduce themselves as "Elizabeth Ann West, novelist," rather than "Elizabeth Ann West, I like to read." Only time reading is cool is if you can say "Elizabeth Ann West, professional book reviewer." :) Sadly, I'm the first two statements, not the last one.

BooksAndPals said...

I think each of the comments thus far have changed my opinon on this in a subtle way.

My initial thought was that any truth to the statement is because anyone who wants to be a reader already is. J.M's comment made me reconsider that, at least slightly. The example given is someone who is a reader and wants to read more, but I imagine some small percentage of people want to read who don't at all or at least only rarely. Even so, the vast majority of people who "want to be readers" are.

People who want to write are much more likely to be in the group who are readers. The coolness factor that Elizabeth mentions and the incorrect perception that it is easy, as Andrew mentions, might make someone who is neither a reader or a writer more likely to express the desire to write than to read.

I guess maybe the statement is correct. but somewhat misleading at first glance. The difference is only partly due to desire and mostly related to ease of becoming a reader as compared to becoming a writer. The person who truly wants to be a reader already is.

Adrian Katrina Miller said...

This book sounds really interesting. I'm adding it to my, "To Read" list.

As for the comment, in my opinion, everyone has a story to tell. I don't think many want to actually write it down.

J.P. Hansen said...

I am amazed at how many people claim to have a book in them. & often these people don't read. They seem to think a story tells itself, that there is no craft involved. I'm not insulting them, I just don't think they've considered what is truly involved in writing.

BooksAndPals said...

I think the saying that "everyone has a book in them" is close to true. I don't think that book is a novel for everyone. I know it isn't for me. But I'd bet a decent percentage of people have a period of their life with a "story arc" that would make a decent memoir, or expertise in something for a non-fiction book.

But that book is likely to stay in them. Much of this is because writing is hard. (Even writing poorly.) J.P.'s comment explains why.

Adrian Katrina Miller said...

That's very true (J.P. & AL). A lot of people cannot write, and hopefully their story will stay with them.

Jamie Wakefield said...

Thank you very much for the review Al. My book sales increased after you posted it. Also, I really enjoyed reading what you thought of my work.

Best of luck.

Jamie Wakefield said...

Thanks for the great review Al. I was very pleased you enjoyed the book.