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My Name Escapes Me Paperback – November 16, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (November 16, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140277455
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140277456
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,468,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The distinguished British actor Guinness, at 82, laments in his silken voice the indignities of aging. He also reminisces about deceased friends and his early low-pay contracts. He shuns needless spending but believes his country's taxes should support the House of Lords and the Queen. He hails the expectation that Queen Elizabeth might visit the Scottish school where 16 children were slain but omits her decision not to go. In these diary selections from 1995 and early 1996, Sir Alec attends mass with his wife but few current films; reads Dickens but not Austen; digests pork pie but not pressed duck. Talk of his film and stage work is brief, and obscure people's names are numerous. In spite of his familiar, well-recorded voice, many American listeners may find this abridgment bland. Of marginal import to biography collections.?Gordon Blackwell, Eastchester, N.Y.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

"I never liked New Year's Day," begins Guinness, but he decided to start this diary with his 1 January 1995 entry; and he ends the diary on 6 June_ 1996, in acknowledgment of the momentous day in 1940 when his son Matthew was born, or "possibly" the Normandy invasion. The point is that Guinness is concerned so much with beginnings and endings that he calls the reader's attention to them, reminding one and all that the sun is most certainly setting on the end of a sublime actor's days. And there is deep sadness to his recordings of the passings of dear friends and the preparations for memorials. Yet, the diary is about so much more than reflections on death; it is about the full life being lived by a much-beloved actor whose name will long be remembered. Sir Alec's friend John le Carrehas written a warm foreword that complements the diary nicely. Consider it a coda to Guinness' best-selling 1986 autobiography, Blessings in Disguise. Bonnie Smothers --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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He doesn't seem to be an opinionated person.
mirasreviews
My star criteria for books are: 1. deserves burning 2. this & the back of a cereal box 3. pleasant read 4. glad I read it 5. more, please Buy this book.
Chicago Slim
He makes it very interesting without any bragadocio.
himself

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By R. B. Bernstein on October 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
In this, the first of his two volumes (so far, I hope) based on his journal, the great actor Sir Alec Guinness makes writing and reading seem as effortless as his acting. His graceful, lucid prose is remarkable, as are his observations and ruminations on his life, on the craft of acting (he never lets one forget that acting is a craft with exacting standards of professionalism), on his reading, on his religious life, on the world around him, and on his family and friends. He is one of the sharpest yet kindest observers of the human comedy, and reading him is not only an unalloyed pleasure but nourishing to the mind and the heart. Readers of this book should scour used-bookstores for BLESSINGS IN DISGUISE and should also hunt down his new book A POSITIVELY FINAL APPEARANCE.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
I haven't hear the audio version of Sir Alec's diary: don't need to since I can hear his voice in my head as I read. Gracious to a fault about his fellow actors, prickly about fans who invade his privacy (whether spying him at a museum or appearing in the back garden), exasperated at the Star Wars fame, he is a truly eccentric Englishman and proud of it. I love it when he admits he probably went on and on while telling a story; a common fault of the loquacious and the aging. Pokes fun at himself and endears himself all the more. Delightful.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Antje Freudenberg on July 4, 1998
Format: Audio Cassette
"My Name Escapes Me" is one of those audiobooks you want to spend an undisturbed evening with, curled up in your most comfortable armchair, armed with a pot of tea. I can't say what I expected when I bought this tape, but definately not "meeting" Alec Guinness on such a personal level. His gentle humor charmed me within the first minutes of listening, and his out-look on life itself is something you don't want to miss. You suffer with him upon the loss of another friend but moments later can join him in celebrating life and whatever it has to offer. You like Alec Guinness - this tape is a must.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 15, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Yes, there are charming references to the classic films and roles for which he is known, but throughout, the private, lyrical and simple moments moved me to laugh and sigh. Perhaps, my own aging parent made this seem so personal, so humbly true. Perhaps the author is simply as gifted an author as he is an actor. And, oh, how I loved his irritation with the "Cult of Obi Wan" and its followers!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By mirasreviews HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"My Name Escapes Me" is a book of actor Sir Alec Guinness' personal diary entries from January 1995 to June 1996, which he wrote with publication in mind. I have to give Sir Alec credit: His diary is not as tedious as most people's would be. His writing has a nice pace, and the book is mercifully short. But there simply isn't anything interesting about it. Sir Alec was 82 years old and retired when he wrote this diary. He spent most of his time relaxing at his country home. If he were working, he might have had more interesting anecdotes to relate or perhaps some insight into the process of putting on a play or making a movie to share. But it takes a more talented writer to make something interesting out of the mundane. Sir Alec mentions music that he likes, plays that he sees, books that he reads, art in various forms, but he never expounds on these subjects, so we don't learn anything about the subjects or about him. He doesn't seem to be an opinionated person. Opinions, however trying, might make for better reading. All in all, "My Name Escapes Me" gives the impression of a man of moderate writing talent and moderate intelligence. It's really too bad that no publisher asked Alec Guinness to write a diary for publication earlier in his life. His style is both literate and easy-going. If it had been applied to the life of a working actor, an insightful and highly readable book might have resulted. But as it is, I think only obsessively curious fans of Alec Guinness will find anything of interest in "My Name Escapes Me".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By cxlxmx on April 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
I don't know what to tell you about this book. I enjoyed it thoroughly (Guinness somehow turns out effortless engrossing prose), but I take nothing of value away from it (the prose is often directed at the weather, the dog, the mail...). The distinct impression of Guinness is of someone around whom you would want to tread carefully. He judges quickly and harshly, but I tend to agree with his judgements, and he seems humble, in a way, making them. The introduction by John le Carre is an odd addition--a short character sketch describing a man of very conservative tastes. The best thing is take some excerpts and let them speak for themselves:

"The tele-box then led us to the calm waters of the House of Lords... Some of their lordships had their eyes closed and I assumed them to be asleep until old mottled hands began to fumble with hearing-aids when Lady Thatcher rose to speak. I can't think why anyone in this country wants to get rid of the Upper House. They are amusing to look at and sensible, and they manage to discuss issues without shouting or finger-pointing... Far better to diminish the House of Commons than constitutionally to damage the Lords. Of course it should be occupied only through inheritance and not topped up with temporary titles."

"The Oscars have come and gone, and I forgot about them in spite of the hype and speculation. I liked Emma Thompson's acceptance speech for her script of Sense and Sensibility as reported in the press; and I was delighted that Wallance and Gromit got an Oscar..."

"At six this evening there was a violent hailstorm accompanied by thunder and lightning. The dogs immediately sought human comfort and the protection of cushions on the sofa.
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