Mr. Lithuania in Canada

A portrait of the artist as a parking-lot attendant and bingo caller

Several years ago a young man asked me what it takes to write a memoir. “Wait for something bad to happen,” I told him. Then, by way of encouragement, I added, “Don’t worry. It will.” This was more curse, I see now, than helpful writerly advice. In my defence, I had so-called misery memoirs on the brain, probably because I had just finished one of my own. Let’s face it, nowadays, “something bad”—my son’s autism, in my case—is the foundation most memoirs are built on.

Maybe that is why Antanas Sileika’s decision to flip the script in The Barefoot Bingo Caller feels, at once, risky and refreshing. Spoiler alert: nothing really bad happens here, a fact Sileika compensates for with a breezy, anecdotal style. His new memoir starts out lighthearted and largely remains that way. While Sileika is self-deprecating, he does not demonstrate much of a dark side in the book. As a kid, he was, by his own assessment...