Thursday, July 2, 2015

Book Review: Not My Father's Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming

I love Alan Cumming. He always heightens the acting in any play or TV show. He seems so sharp and witty and so I was intrigued when this memoir came out.

Unlike a typical celebrity memoir, Alan doesn't focus on the years of his success and fame. He certainly does mention them, but the book is mostly about his miserable childhood with an abusive father. He does note that he started acting as a way to deal with the abuse--either to try to fool his father, or to fool others who noticed something was wrong. But it's all about his family.

In 2010 he was doing the TV show, Who Do You Think You Are, which was researching his mother's father, a WWII vet who died mysteriously a few years after the war in Malaysia. He got an alarming phone call from his older brother about their father, and a bomb he wanted to drop into Alan's life, in a moment when he was already vulnerable and emotional. Nice guy.

The book jumps back and forth between "Now" and "Then," with the result of his father's bomb getting somewhat dragged out, but not overly so. I loved listening to the audio as occasionally Alan threw in a tone that wouldn't be in the printed book. After years of watching him on The Good Wife, I forgot he was Scottish, so that took a little bit of getting used to. But it was an excellent piece of honest, emotional truth, and I appreciate him letter everyone in. At the end of the book he also discusses how things like abuse isolate people and how one reason he wrote the book is to speak out about it, so victims know they're not alone, and it loses some of its power. That's a terrific thing to do.

I borrowed this audiobook from the library as a download through Overdrive.

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