Audie Award, Autobiography/Memoir, 2015
Dark, painful memories can be like a cage. Or, in the case of Alan Cumming, they can be packed away in a box, stuck in the attic to be forgotten. Until one day the box explodes and all the memories flood back in horrible detail. Alan Cumming 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.
When television producers approached Alan to appear on a popular celebrity genealogy show in 2010, he enthusiastically agreed. He hoped to solve a mystery that had long cast a shadow over his family. His maternal grandfather, Tommy Darling, had disappeared into the Far East after WWII. Alan's mother knew very little about him - he had been a courier, carrying information between battalions on his motorbike. The last time she saw her father, Alan's mother was eight years old. When she was 13, the family was informed that he had died by his own hand, an accidental shooting.
But this was not the only mystery laid before Alan's feet. His father, whom Alan had not seen or spoken to for more than a decade, 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.
©2014 Alan Cumming (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers
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I think anyone who listen's to Mr. Cummings memoir will find it hard to stop. For those of us who have experienced an extremely difficult childhood this will prove to be an especially poignant listening experience. I identify with so many of the things he went through and his subsequent reaction both as a child and an adult.
Rest assured, this book is no downer. On the contrary, it is uplifting. Mr. Cummings points out how all of his experiences have contributed to the person he is today. He seems like a funny, talented, and kind soul with a zest for life.
If you already appreciate his work you will love him even more. If you aren't yet familiar with his work, this book will make want to rent his previous films.
Definitely give this one a listen.
such a brave memoir. Even though it seems that as an actor he is probably used to opening up, I still think it is brave of him to share such a deeply personal and touching story. And consequently helping other people like me who read these types of stories as a form of self therapy. As previously stated by another reviewer, the memoir is especially for people who also had traumatic childhoods. Relating to others experiences helps to process our own in the intricate complexities of abusive parental/familial relationships.
It is a short account of just one aspect of Cummings life, but it is powerful, eloquent, poignant, and inspiring.
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
I write this as one who had a lovely childhood. Oh, my family had issues and ups and downs, but there was never any doubt about the love, respect, support, and security offered by my parents.
So it should be for all children! I've long admired Alan Cumming as a fearless actor and as a wonderful narrator - now I also admire him as a survivor who shares his painful story with emotion and frankness which can not fail to be an inspiration for us all and especially for those who have also suffered childhood abuse.
The book moves back and forth in time to reveal the fear and confusion of a child dealing with that abuse and the struggle of an adult to comprehend and come to terms with it and the inevitable effects it had on himself and his family. And it's all told within the context of the filming of an episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?", a series which explores the family trees of celebrities. We learn a lot about the process of that show and about the life it is focusing on in this case - that of Cumming's troubled grandfather. The two stories seem in ways to be completely different, yet there are striking similarities and the juxtaposition works.
No one but Alan Cumming could have narrated this book. Listening to it is an incredible experience!
I loved this book - I couldn't stop listening to it - it's an amazing story told with honesty and candor. Very touching, and Alan's voice is beautiful to listen to. Thank you for sharing your story!
Listening to Alan Cumming relate his own story made the telling of abuse, a difficult period of revelation and the triump of spirit; learning to love himself without a father's love; and the love of his brother, mother and partner left a footprint in my heart and soul-forever! Thank-you!Your honesty will heal other victims of abuse!
I was in the moment of rawness, pain, joy and searching from beginning to end. He truly gave us a window into his soul! He stilll managed to provide moments of joy, laughter and gratitude. I hope the book and the reading/telling of the book eased his life and childhood pain. I am glad he found happiness, love and self worth! I will listen and watch any performance he gives! His lovely scottish lilt was musical, with a wide scale of varied, emotional nuances.
I listened while I drove for 30-60 minutes at a time. I could not wait to get back to the story. However, I am not sure one could endure all the pain and emotion in one sitting. similar to War and Peace. You have to take a break to continue taking in all the human pathos and emotion! Thank you a million times for the courage you had in bringing your story to print and in also performing the book!
I first knew of Alan Cumming from the Good Wife, a politician with a hidden layer of leprochaun and mischief with sparkling, beautiful eyes. He is one of my favorite characters. then I saw his performance on the Tony's of cabaret, so I started looking him up and found out about the book and several of the plays/movies he was written, directed and starred in and about this book. So I started reading and watching all of his work available! I too had a father who created an atmosphere of mental, psychological abuse and Alan was spot on in his descriptions and a life journey to become and believe one is okay! Thanks!
Absolutely! It hurt to listen to this story, but it was beautifully wrought. Alan Cumming is a gifted writer, storyteller, and narrator. He gives you just enough hope to make you keep listening.If I find myself feeling down, I may listen to this again in a few years.
Alan is likable, even when he's flawed. I love his proclamations against shame. He acknowledges the difficult times in his life, he accepts himself for who he is, and he lives life with relish. Would that more people lived that way.
It is a minor scene, but Alan's description of himself at King's Cross Station filled me with so much joy. Hearing someone talk about how awesome they are is too rare. He's not pompous, he just acknowledges that he grew into a fantastic, pixie-like adult.
I'm very close to a few survivors of child abuse. Listening to Alan's descriptions of how his father treated him and how it impacted him was heart-wrenching, not just because it is awful when someone is abused like that, but because it paralleled the stories I've heard before. The similarities between stories of child abuse survivors are eerie.
I loved listening to this book. I loved Alan Cumming's story and never tired of his voice. I've been a fan of his since The Good Wife started its Sunday night run a few years back. I had no idea, until recently, anything else about him or some of the outrageous roles he has played. I can't imagine anyone not enjoying this book.
Never without an audible book on my phone!
I was always fascinated by how believably Alan Cumming (a Scotsman) could play an American, Jewish political consultant on the Good Wife so I had to read his memoir to see what he was all about. Turns out that he is a terrific writer who can weave a down right crazy tale. It is amazing that this brilliant actor was brought up under such terribly abusive circumstances and was still able to become a hugely talented actor. His story is a testament to survival and ultimately thriving despite the worst of circumstances.
Not My Father's Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming
I did not feel as if I was listening to a memoir while I listened to Alan Cumming read this remarkable book. Cumming somehow infused the memoir with so much suspense that I felt like I was reading a mystery; a really good mystery. Cumming's memoir follows the pattern of many current mystery so by alternating from the present to the past.
The past is Cumming's horrific childhood with an abusive, and probably mentally ill father. The present is the filming of a British television show which will delve into his ancestry and which he hopes will shed light on the death of his maternal grandfather in Malaysia after World War II. The writing is taut and effective causing me to race through the book seeking answers the mysteries which unfold.
I laughed; I cried and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride! Highly recommended!
So beautifully written. So brave , funny, kind, and honest. It is hard to hear of the terrible abuse that Mr Cummings suffered as a boy, but his revelations and graceful storytelling kept me riveted. I loved hearing the stories in his beautiful Scottish accent and his appreciation of the advantages and absurdity of his chosen career were great fun. I look forward to any future writing by the talented Mr Cumming .
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