anchorboy

AA Book Club: Jay Onrait’s ‘Anchorboy’ is scattered brilliance

In a way, Anchorboy, Jay Onrait's memoirs (well, kind of, but not really) in the world of broadcasting is a bit of an odd release. It's essentially being promoted as a physical release in Canada, while only being put out digitally in the United States, the country in which he's currently employed (Amazon has an American physical release set for May 6, 2014). Basically, this book is currently easiest to buy for the very people who can no longer watch him.

The timing works out great, however, since Anchorboy ends up seemingly like a perfect way to close out a chapter of Onrait's life. The book literally ends with he and broadcast partner Dan O'Toole accepting their new gigs with Fox Sports 1. It's almost too movie-like, and Canada loves those so much, somebody might just option this no matter how great or terrible it is.  

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It helps, then, that Anchorboy is often a terrific read, and almost always very funny. It's also often a really interesting look into the world of Canadian sportscasting. It becomes a little too scattered once Onrait starts working at TSN, but up until then, it's a very linear story about a kid from Alberta who made his dreams come true. 

If you like Onrait's sportscasting persona, especially on the podcast he and O'Toole host each week, you'll be completely on board with him. It might take others a minute to get past Jay's interest in sharing his various gastrointestinal problems. That said, credit to him for not being afraid to make himself unlikable at certain parts of the story. He's honest, to a fault at times, though the "Good Canadian Boy" never fails to shine through, as he almost never names names if it makes someone look less than flattering.

The most interesting part of Anchorboy isn't one of Onrait's many success stories, but one of failure. He spends a few chapters detailing his attempt to launch a Canadian counterpart to The Soup. What seems like it should be a naturally easy thing to get up and running (given how cheap the show looks outside Joel McHale's wardrobe), Onrait's frustration in all the challenges it took to get to air for four episodes seeps through. It's a fascinating "Inside Baseball" moment, and it keeps the book from turning into Guy Has Pretty Great Life For the Most Part.

If you've read my work, you know I've become a big fan of Onrait through his work on Fox Sports 1. I think he and O'Toole are a real treat to watch every night, and you get the sense that they wouldn't be if they weren't both decent writers. Anchorboy proves that true… well, at least for one half of the partnership (O'Toole does write the foreward). I hope he writes again, especially since he left off the first book with such an obvious opportunity for a sequel.

Steve Lepore

About Steve Lepore

Steve Lepore is a writer for Bloguin and a correspondent for SiriusXM NHL Network Radio.

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