Growing up as a clever, willful boy in a tiny village in the tropical forests of Trinidad―raised by his indomitable grandmother, Miss Excelly, and her King James Bible―Antonio Michael Downing is steeped in the legacies of his scattered family, the vibrant culture of the island, and the weight of its colonial history.
... a rich memoir about how far some folks have to travel just to arrive where they began ... Downing deploys spectacular details in describing those childhood years, the sights, sounds and violence of that place and time. The prose in those early passages is exalted and melodic. Even as the tremendous care in its crafting seems evident, the words also flow naturally. Downing never seems to press. We see vast and granular marvels through the eyes of a child still capable of awe.
Downing’s narration is compelling and disturbing ... The book relates the dark side of Canadian life and the difficulties of learning to be a man without a guide. Downing, struggling to overcome the lasting effects of colonialism, parental abandonment, and the shame of sexual abuse, took refuge in his music and hid his vulnerability beneath a series of personas. Eventually, he came to realize that he was, in some sense, all of them, and more ... an eloquent memoir about Anthony Michael Downing’s experiences as an immigrant in a minority population; it centers his resilience.
Combining staccato prose and singsong storytelling, Downing’s Saga Boy: My Life of Blackness and Becoming navigates loneliness, uncertainty, fear, hopelessness and hunger ... Downing’s heart-wrenching memoir chronicles his saga of trying on and casting off many masks, learning the dimensions of the face through which he sees the world and the world sees him.