An Improvised Life

A Memoir
Narrated by: Alan Arkin
Length: 4 hrs and 14 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (106 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In this insightful memoir, Oscar-winning actor Alan Arkin reflects back on finding his place as an actor and what theater—specifically the improvisational sort—has taught him about the craft and life.

Alan Arkin knew he was going to be an actor from the age of five. From this early age, he recognized that “every film I saw, every play, every piece of music fed an unquenchable need to turn myself into something other than what I was.”

An Improvised Life is Arkin’s wise and unpretentious recollection of the process, artistic and personal, of becoming an actor and a revealing look into the creative mind of one of the best practitioners on the stage and screen. Arkin, in a manner that is direct, down-to-earth, accessible, and articulate, reveals not just insights about himself but truths for the rest of us about our sense of self, our work, and our relationships with others.

©2011 Alan Arkin (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“[A] wealth of wisdom.” ( New York Post)

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

An in depth examination of acting craft

I admire Alan Arkin as an actor immensely so I was very excited to listen to his memoir narrated by himself. Unfortunately I came away disappointed. Arkin comes across as a very serious man, seriously dedicated to the craft of acting. He gives away little about his personal life and his highs and lows and mainly discusses his professional career in sometimes boggling detail. If you are an aspiring actor this memoir will give you incredible insights into the work required to hone the craft. If you are not an aspiring actor but looking for an entertaining memoir then you might find this somewhat disappointing. Arkin provides almost no anecdotes regarding the many movies he's made and the many actors he's worked with. He does provide blueprints for how to be seriously obsessed with being the best actor you can be.

9 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Know Thyself

One thing I love about Allen Arkin is that he writes the way I think. This is refreshing and his approach to life would be an example of Socrates' epithet "know thyself.." He has a way to show his insights and how they improve his life. It is a fascinating window into his understanding and maturing. I couldn't put it down.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Worth every minute.

I enjoyed it fully. It brought me a lot of clarity. Thank you so much.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A must listen!

An American acting treasure delivers like he is next you, sharing his down to earth adventures of a fascinating life. So enjoyable!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Serpintine! Listen to this book .

i truly enjoyed this audiobook because I am huge Alan Arkin fan and it was just nice to hear about his background and begining to his tips on improvising. great book and I can't recommend it enough .

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Considering a life in the arts

A considered journey within by a true artist who dug and found, or digs and finds, and remains open to more digs. A lesson on remaining interested.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Alan Arlin’s 1st Memoir

If you like Alan Atkin, or are at all interested in the craft of acting, or are interested in a fine actor’s philosophy of life, then I recommend this book. If you want an autobiography of Alan Atkin, recounting his acting career after he became famous, then this is not the book you want. Atkin does recount in detail his path to success, but he seems uninterested in discussing any of his movies, his experiences with other famous actors and directors, and certainly not life in Hollywood. Nevertheless, I very much enjoyed the book, particularly Arlin’s evolving philosophy, and its connection to his vocation. Too much about his acting workshops though.

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Wonderful l

Hated that it was over, I just wanted it to keep going. ilId that 15 words yet?

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

the other is better

it is very good, enjoyable, I listened it through in a few days. the stories he tells are very straightforward, easy to follow. I'm 36, a younger me would find it boring, probably.

1 person found this helpful

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very insightful and thought provoking<br />

I listened to this while I was working and found that later in the afternoon I was actually happier than I was in that morning.