Wednesday 13 May 2020

On The Road Not Taken by Paul Dodgson @pauldodgson BLOG TOUR #GuestReview @jaustenrulesok #RandomThingsTours @unbounders

On the Road Not Taken is a memoir about the transformational power of musicIt begins with a boy growing up in a small town on the Kent coast in the 1970s, who learns to play the guitar and dreams of heading out on the open road with a head full of songs. But when the moment comes to make the choice he is not brave enough to try and do it for a living.
Time passes but the desire to explain the world through music never goes away. And as the years go by it gets harder and harder to risk looking like a fool, of doing the very thing he would most like to do, of actually being himself. Eventually, thirty-five years later, when it feels like time is running out, he walks out onto a stage in front of 500 people and begins to sing again.
What follows is an extraordinary period of self-discovery as he plays pubs, clubs, theatres and festivals, overcoming anxiety to experience the joy of performance.

On The Road Not Taken by Paul Dodgson was published in August 2019 by Unbound.

I'm delighted to welcome guest reviewer Louise Wykes to Random Things today, sharing her review of the book for the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour.

You can find Louise on Twitter @jaustenrulesok

Louise's Review of On The Road Not Taken

On The Road Not Taken by Paul Dodgson was published by Unbound on 22nd August 2019. I would like to thank the publisher for sending me a copy to review and Anne Cater for agreeing to host my review on her blog. 
I was attracted to the blurb of this book as it promised a tale of someone who had left trying to fulfil his lifelong dream until later in life so was interested to read about how a journey like this would be undertaken. The author writes in his introduction that the book was not intended as a full autobiography but rather more of a memoir whereby he is moulding the story he is telling into something that is more palatable to a reader rather than a dry record of facts.. He accepts that the messiness of real life cannot be neatly tied up in the way a conventional novel could be. 
The author alternates his chapters between his young years in the late 1970s where he starts discovering more about music and how much it will consume his life and his current day life in 2016 and 2017. The chapters have song titles as headers and sometimes it becomes clear from what happens in each chapter why the song is chosen but for others it’s a little less obvious (well it was for me anyway). 
As a mum to three children who sometimes finds it hard to fit in reading with everyday life, I have to say I do appreciate short chapters but I felt in this book the chapters were too short to feel as if I was really involved in seeing the worlds that the author wanted me to see. I would have felt more engaged with the story in both timelines if each chapter had been longer and more involved. I know that the author is a songwriter also and maybe it was his intention to have little vignettes into his world but I felt they weren’t enough for me to feel as if I had an emotional connection with what was happening on the page. 
I felt that I engaged far more fully with the chapters dealing with the author’s childhood. There seemed to be more insight in these chapters and they moved me more. I felt in the chapters dealing with his current life that there seemed to be a wall between the author and myself as a reader. Maybe the author was
more conscious that these chapters were closer to him and his real life so maybe was unconsciously editing himself in his reactions.
On the whole I felt that this book lacked narrative drive. I appreciate that this is a memoir and not a work of fiction, but I felt little compulsion to keep turning the pages to discover what happened in each time period, maybe if I had I may have enjoyed the book more. I also have to confess that I am not a musical person at all so I may not have been the intended audience. The writing is clean and concise and I really felt connected with the author in his childhood chapters and I am pleased that eventually the author succeeded in doing what he wanted, finally, in his life.

Paul Dodgson is a writer, radio producer, teacher and musician. 
Paul joined the BBC as a studio manager and went on to become a producer making programmes for all BBC Radio networks. 
In 2001 Paul left the BBC and has since written 16 plays for BBC Radio 4 and been a member of the Eastenders writing team. 
In the theatre Paul has written several plays for young people and been commissioned to write music and lyrics for five musicals including The Nutcracker at Theatre Royal Bath and Nuffield Southampton. 
Paul has taught creative writing around the world, has been writer-in-residence at Exeter University and a Hawthornden Fellow. 
Paul has a particular interest in teaching techniques of memoir writing and three of his BBC radio plays have told life stories including On The Road Not Taken, which began life on BBC Radio 4.

Twitter @pauldodgson

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