"My mother didn't try to stab my father until I was six," begins Alda's irresistible story. The son of a popular actor and a loving but mentally ill mother, he spent his early childhood backstage in the erotic and comic world of burlesque and went on, after early struggles, to achieve extraordinary success in his profession.
Yet Never Have Your Dog Stuffed is not a memoir of show-business ups and downs. It is a moving and funny story of a boy growing into a man who then realizes he has only just begun to grow.
It is the story of turning points in Alda's life, events that would make him what he is, if only he could survive them.
From the moment as a boy when his dead dog is returned from the taxidermist's shop with a hideous expression on his face, and he learns that death can't be undone, to the decades-long effort to find compassion for the mother he lived with but never knew, to his acceptance of his father, both personally and professionally, Alda learns the hard way that change, uncertainty, and transformation are what life is made of, and true happiness is found in embracing them.
Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, filled with curiosity about nature, good humor, and honesty, is the crowning achievement of an actor, author, and director, but surprisingly, it is the story of a life more filled with turbulence and laughter than any Alda has ever played on the stage or screen.
©2005 Alan Alda; (P)2005 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
"A brief but entertaining autobiography tempered with humility and a depth rarely found in celebrity memoirs." (Publishers Weekly)
I was a little worried about getting an abridged version of this book, but after reading the other reviews I decided that having Alan Alda as the narrator was worth it. I am so glad I went with this version. I couldn't tell if it was abridged or not and I really appreciated having the words read in the author's own voice.
I enjoyed this book and have a new respect for Alan Alda, the person. I particularly enjoyed reading about his early struggles and the side jobs he took to support his dream. I found his insights into his life to be honest, especially concerning his parents. I liked that he didn't play up his successes but really wrote about the growth and thought processes involved in his life and his decisions. At first I had a twinge of disappointment that Alan Alda didn't read the book himself, but I believe it gives more objectivity to his story. This isn't a book about the public life of an entertainer. It is a story of a man with a dream and a wonderful attitude towards life.
I really did'nt need to get inside Alan Alda's head but that's where you'll be during and after listening to this book.
You'll also be treated to a visit inside his famous father's head and his certifiably crazy mothers head. You'll also be treated to Alda's frequent nightmares.
If you're after hollywood dirt Alda casually reels off a list of the actresses he has kissed but it's done perfunctorily and without further comment. He also tosses of one quick anecdote relating to each of his co-stars for 11 years on MASH.
I can't recommend this audio book enough. Not only is it a great insight into Alan's life, his ideas as he goes though his adventures are thought provoking and sometimes funny.
Having watched and lived with Hawkeye for 11 seasons, plus seen Alda in so many movies and in West Wing....it was like I had downloaded a friend into my iPod to take me on walks. Definitely better to listen to the abridged (what was left out?) with Alda reading than to hear every dot and dittle pronounced by a stranger. And I think he is right: stuffing your dog is probably the wrong thing to do.....
I'm an avid audio book fan. I've listened to dozens of books on tape. I've never yet had an incident where the voice of the reader diminished my enjoyment of the book. In fact, the narration usually enhances the story through vocal accents or skillful use of tone. Not this time. I purchased Alan Alda's book and sat back to hear his familier voice. I was shocked to find that the narrator was NOT Alan Alda. I had assumed only Alda would tell his own tale. Who could possibly do it better?
The answer is no one. I could hear the distinctive cadence of Alda's speech pattern in the dialogue. So it was all the more distracting and disappointing to hear it relayed in another person's voice. It just didn't work for me.
The content of the story was interesting enough. There was some expected humor. But Alda's voice and particular delivery could have coaxed much more meaning and emotion from the same words.
My recommendation: Don't buy this audiobook until Alda makes the recording!
Love it, it has a lot of depth and great character. It also comes with a life lesson; you can't hold back change and take every opportunity to try new things.
"Dog lovers beware"
Great to hear that people we see as 'stars' have ordinary lives and problems just like the rest of us. Alan Alda's voice is a little more monotone than I was expecting from an actor but nevertheless is easy to listen to and he has a story very much worth hearing.
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