- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Dey Street Books; Reprint edition (May 5, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062225073
- ISBN-13: 978-0062225078
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1,526 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Not My Father's Son: A Memoir Paperback – May 5, 2015
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Alan Cumming’s moving memoir NOT MY FATHER’S SON is 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, author of New York Times bestsellers Missing You and Six Years)
“Equal parts memoir, whodunnit, 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. I was completely sucked in.” (Neil Gaiman, author of American Gods and Ocean at the End of the Lane)
From the Back Cover
Dark, painful memories can be put away to be forgotten. Until one day they all flood back in horrible detail.
When television producers approached Alan Cumming to appear on a popular celebrity genealogy show, he hoped to solve the mystery of his maternal grandfather's disappearance that had long cast a shadow over his family. But this was not the only mystery laid before Alan.
Alan grew up in the grip of a man who held his family hostage, someone who meted out violence with a frightening ease, who waged a silent war with himself that sometimes spilled over onto everyone around him. That man was Alex Cumming, Alan's father, whom Alan had not seen or spoken to for more than a decade when he reconnected just before filming for Who Do You Think You Are? began. He had a secret he had to share, one that would shock his son to his very core and set into motion a journey that would change Alan's life forever.
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 the celebrated actor of film, television, and stage. At times suspenseful, at times deeply moving, but always incredibly brave and honest, Not My Father's Son is a powerful story of embracing the best aspects of the past and triumphantly pushing the darkness aside.
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Top Customer Reviews
I was interested to read more about what had made this extraordinary man.
His memoir is every bit as wonderful as he is. It is innocent and still too wise. It is sad and lovely. Heartbreaking violence towards a child is slipped in next to celebrity memories. His wondering about where he could come from is written with longing and the same enthusiasm with which he distances himself from the father he knows is part of his past.
But even as we explore the answers to his mysteries we see what Alan does not. He is his fathers son in absolute negative. Where his father looks over a small child to find fault, Cumming writes about his father with grace. Perhaps, he posits, there were good and happy times with his father that he and his brother were just too traumatized to remember. Where his father rages, Cummings is gentle and wry. Alan looks deeply and he sees.
Cummings is a lovely writer. Each vignette hands the reader one small part of him. It is up to the reader to put them together. Along the way we are treated to thoughts on what Shakespeare would be doing if he were alive today, the Eurovision Song contest, and the story of his blue sweater vest. His fathers relentless cruelty never diminishes but Alan grows far beyond it.
He makes it beautiful
happened to AlanCummings is happening right now, to children everywhere. Children are tortured, beaten and abused everyday. The book is honest and heartfelt.
The memoir is written in back/forth in time ("Then" and "Now" sections) which was a clever way to weave the story of his childhood with his adult story of discovery. I was horrified to learn of the awful abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of his father and engrossed in his story of his discovery of a Grandfather and of a life free of abuse. The "Now" portion of the book delves slightly into his years between college to present day and is heavy on the family secrets and research into a Grandfather he never knew. My only gripe is that I felt big chunks of his developmental years between college and present day were absent. I would have preferred a heftier book if it meant his full memoir would have been presented. So, I docked a star since I was left wanting more.
This is my favorite passage; it's a great viewpoint:
"...I believe if you're honest, true to yourself, and committed, and especially if you use humor as a tool as well as a balm, people will respect you perhaps more than if they agreed with everything you said. It's actually quite a good ethos for life: go into the unknown with truth, commitment, and openness and mostly you'll be okay."
*edited to add:
I decided to purchase the audiobook as well. I wanted to hear Mr. Cumming read it in his own voice, which I just go giddy when I listen to. I found the book much more entertaining and riveting with his own personality begin added with accent and speech. I highly recommend purchasing the audiobook if you are able.