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Not My Father's Son: A Memoir Kindle Edition
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“Equal parts memoir, whodunit, and manual for living . . . a beautifully written, honest look at the forces of blood and bone that make us who we are, and how we make ourselves.” --Neil Gaiman
In his unique and engaging voice, the acclaimed actor of stage and screen shares the emotional story of his complicated relationship with his father and the deeply buried family secrets that shaped his life and career.
A beloved star of stage, television, and film—“one of the most fun people in show business” (Time magazine)—Alan Cumming is a successful artist whose diversity and fearlessness is unparalleled. His success masks a painful childhood growing up under the heavy rule of an emotionally and physically abusive father—a relationship that tormented him long into adulthood.
When television producers in the UK approached him to appear on a popular celebrity genealogy show in 2010, Alan enthusiastically agreed. He hoped the show would solve a family mystery involving his maternal grandfather, a celebrated WWII hero who disappeared in the Far East. But as the truth of his family ancestors revealed itself, Alan learned far more than he bargained for about himself, his past, and his own father.
With ribald humor, wit, and incredible insight, Alan seamlessly moves back and forth in time, integrating stories from his childhood in Scotland and his experiences today as a film, television, and theater star. At times suspenseful, deeply moving, and wickedly funny, Not My Father’s Son will make readers laugh even as it breaks their hearts.
Equal parts memoir, whodunit, and manual for living, Not My Father's Son is a beautifully written, honest look at the forces of blood and bone that make us what we are, and how we make ourselves.-- "Neil Gaiman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Anansi Boys"
A beautiful book-sad, funny, haunting, surprising, suspenseful, gut-wrenching, endearing. It will linger inside of you long after you turn the final page.-- "Harlan Coben, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Live Wire"
Cumming uses all his vocal experience and charm in this searing memoir. His unashamedly honest and emotionally raw remembrance of surviving his abusive father is a must-hear...Delivering stories that are both harrowing and at times hilarious, Cumming reaches through your earphones and doesn't let go. Make sure you carry a pocket of tissues. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.-- "AudioFile"
A moving read that fans of the man and of memoirs won't want to put down.-- "Library Journal"
Cumming eschews the empty calories of celebrity fluff to share the deeply personal but ultimately life-affirming truth of his harrowing childhood and fascinating family history...Cumming's eccentric style and assured voice shine brightly on every page, while escorting readers and fans on a memorable journey that is simultaneously insightful, brave, moving, and witty.-- "Booklist"
A raw, revealing memoir from a courageous actor and writer.-- "Kirkus Reviews" --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
Alan Cumming is an award-winning actor, singer, writer, producer, and director. He recently starred in an acclaimed one-man staging of Macbeth on Broadway and appears on the Emmy Award-winning television show The Good Wife. Cumming won a Tony Award for his portrayal of the Emcee in the Broadway musical Cabaret. He is the winner of the 2015 Audie Award for Best Autobiography/Memoir narration and Best Narration by the Author Award as well as six Audiofile Earphones Awards. He hosts PBS Masterpiece Mystery and has appeared in numerous films, including Spy Kids, Titus, X2: X-Men United, The Anniversary Party, Any Day Now, and Eyes Wide Shut.--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B00HU5F3UU
- Publisher : Dey Street Books; Reprint edition (October 7, 2014)
- Publication date : October 7, 2014
- Language : English
- File size : 37154 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 304 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #39,964 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on February 28, 2016
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Top reviews from the United States
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When I think of Memoir's, I sometimes feel my eyes glaze over simply because the few I've read were a bit dry in nature, but Alan's personal recounting of his childhood and his stormy relationship with his father are written by a man who knows how to captivate an audience. This is obvious whenever I watch him in some of my favorite shows such as Emma or The Good Wife. There is an honest, vulnerable side to Alan that I think would be terrifying to reveal to all the world considering the subject matter and his very public position as an acclaimed actor. Having suffered from abuse myself, I find it both inspiring and liberating to read another person's account of their experiences and the process through which they overcame that kind of emotional scarring.
Abuse tends to beget a cycle that can be broken, but many times isn't. When a child is raised in an environment where their safety, security, and stability is constantly threatened they live their lives in a state of hyper awareness and fear that can be compared to the emotional state a soldier in battle endures. Their PTSD manifests itself emotionally and eventually physically unless they receive the counseling and support they need. Cumming discussed this very issue when he admitted that his family lived in a state of denial and eventually blocked out the abuse to the point he couldn't remember the details until he and his wife decided to have children. It was at that point that the thought of becoming a father slowly unearthed those repressed memories and in the end his marriage suffered.
Once he began discussing everything with his mother and brother, it became clear that they all were suffering from the same form of denial and emotional backlash. It took time, patience, and a willingness to get the help he needed in order to come to terms with his past so he could take back his future. This book took many twists and turns that I was not expecting which simply proves that life really can be stranger than fiction.
Alan Cumming is personable, funny, straightforward, and candid in his remarks, weaving a story that encourages people to rise above the challenges of their past, but most importantly, to learn to come to terms with them. There can be no healing when there is no recognition of the wounds inflicted. It's like being shot in the stomach and refusing to acknowledge the injury. It will fester and become infected, eventually snuffing out a life that deserves to reach its fullest potential.
I really hope all of you will take the time to buy this book and read it. I'm always giving out book suggestions, but this is one book I feel no one should be without. Even if you've never experienced abuse in your life, it will help you understand the mental and emotional state of those who have, and that kind of learning, I think, is an invaluable opportunity we should all take full advantage of.
For those of you who have suffered abuse, I hope this will give you something to hold onto when those memories creep back in to haunt you and possibly convince you that you're not worth much if anything at all. I hope you'll remember Alan's story and recognize your own individual worth. You matter. You're more than the abuse you suffered, and your ability to remember that and rise above that pain will bless and help others around you to do the same.
This memoir is a beautiful example of the human spirit rising to the occasion and giving back a little something to all of us in the process. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
I think by sharing his story he was able to find healing and also help others begin to heal. This is a story I’m glad I read.
I have read some of the reviews that have been written here and some are positive and some negative. I realize that most people do not come from dysfunctional families like Alan did but you missed one point. Alan Cumming made it through to be the fantastic performer he is today. I am happy to have read this book and again commend this fantastic performer on his ability to tell the truth about his childhood in a way that only he can understand. Most of us have had two loving parents in our lives and cannot comprehend the hell he went through with his dad. He did not write this memoir to gain sympathy from us, he wrote it to tell us about his life and I find it refreshing to read about a STAR that does not sugarcoat his life but brings the reality into perspective, not all children's lives are sweetness and light, some are far from it, but some children (like Mr. Cumming), can pick themselves up and prove to whomever abused them that they can dust themselves off and make themselves worthy of our respect and admiration.
Regarding his grandfather, I do wish that Mr. Cumming had been able to meet him and his mother could have had more time with her dad. The only thing that bothers me about the grandfather here is that he had been through so much
during the war that he forgot his own children. There was no abuse from him here, just abandonment, which I feel he had no control over since he was traumatized from the wars he had been in.
Again "BRAVO" to Mr. Cumming for this book and may he from now on have a life of joy and happiness as he has given us, his audience, whenever we see him. He is truly a star who deserves his fame. God Bless and keep Mr. Cumming, from a fan forever!
Top reviews from other countries
I saw Alan when he appeared at Ayr Gaiety Theatre many years ago as part of the funny and charming Victor and Barry duo. Who could have guessed the horrors that this seemingly carefree lad had endured in his young life and what an amazing life he had yet to live.
I am happy for him that he was able to discover his brave,strong and kind grandad to maybe help counterbalance his memory of a father who was the complete opposite.
Suffice to say I loved this book and I thank Alan Cumming for having the courage to share his remarkable story.
Rather than set out to tell his whole life story - which I would expect to be very entertaining and very long - Cumming addresses the one overwhelming issue in his life; his father's violence during Alan's childhood. Everything revolves around Alan the child getting beaten and shouted at and the impact that abuse has had on him. Add an interesting plot-line around his decision to take part in the TV series "Who do you think you are?" which offers a chance to examine the life of his grandfather who also suffered for the lack of fatherly love and you have a deeply moving and personal book.
This is also a book that couldn't be written whilst his father was alive. It is, however, a fantastic tribute to his mother, Mary Darling, and his brother Tom and shows that even in a family with a big dark cloud of anger floating above the wife and children, love can and does thrive.
But, to the book: Alan Cumming has written an outstanding and sometimes heart-stopping account of the relationship he had with his father – a bully and an adulterer who revelled in inflicting terrorising psychotic mind games on his son and subjecting him, on the slightest pretext, to physical beatings. As soon as he could, Alan left home and, as we know, he eventually became a very successful actor of stage and screen. What’s remarkable is the graciousness of Alan’s writing: he manages to convey the malevolence of his father without being angry or bitter. All credit to him for that. The story is deftly interwoven with his experiences of his 2010 appearance on “Who Do You Think You Are?” when he embarked on a journey to find the truth behind the suspicious death of his maternal grandfather in Malaysia in 1951. It’s a nice touch. Flipping between his childhood and the quest for truth about his granddad gives the story ballast. So, what of the tease in the title - is he or isn’t he his father’s son? Read the book and find out!
Just one thing bothers me, though. It’s clear from the book that Alan adores his mother. But why, when she seems to have done nothing to protect him from her husband’s psychological and physical abuse?