Fiddling with disaster by Ashley MacIsaac with Frank Condron (Warwick), 280 pages, $18.95 paper. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Here it is, the book no one was waiting for, Ashley MacIsaac's as-told-to autobiography, Fiddling With Disaster, in which the controversy-courting fiddler-diddler tries to explain why he's so misunderstood. In his version of the familiar too-much-too-soon tale, our poor, naive musical prodigy gets plucked from the tiny village of Creignish on rural Cape Breton Island and thrust into the glamorous nightlife of New York City, where he acquires a taste for excess that very nearly destroys him.
In a rambling, unsubstantiated narrative, MacIsaac recounts his quick rise to fame and his even faster descent into dope-addled dementia.
Yet for all the ink devoted to his drug exploits, his alternately comical and pathetic anecdotes don't make Fiddling With Disaster the revelatory tell-all it may at first appear to be.
When you consider what he openly discusses at length, namely the crack cocaine addiction that once had him trying to sell his violin on the streets of Toronto for a $25 rock, and what he chooses to leave out - say, the details of his unusual sexual practices - it becomes clear that MacIsaac isn't really interested in laying himself bare.
In his own hopelessly misguided way, he seems to be appealing for sympathy as the victim of an elaborate media smear campaign.
In addition to targeting Maclean's, MacIsaac blames record label and business associates for his financial ruin.
Hilariously enough, after spending chapters itemizing the pounds of coke and pot he's gone through, often flying to exotic locales just to get high in a hotel room alone, he wonders aloud where all the money went. MacIsaac comes off as a bitter and befuddled prima donna, unable to accept responsibility for his own foolish decisions and catastrophic mistakes.
In Fiddling With Disaster, MacIsaac unwittingly provides his detractors with more reasons to detest him while offering his shrinking circle of supporters nothing but cause for concern.
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