Not My Father's Son

Not My Father's Son

by Alan Cumming

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Overview

Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062225061
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/07/2014
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.51(h) x 1.20(d)

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. He won a Tony Award for his portrayal of the Emcee in the Broadway musical Cabaret, a role he reprised in 2014. He hosts Masterpiece Mystery! on PBS and has appeared in numerous films, including Spy Kids, Titus, X2: X-Men United, The Anniversary Party, Any Day Now, and Eyes Wide Shut. He lives in New York and London.

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Not My Father's Son: A Memoir 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 59 reviews.
gloriafeit More than 1 year ago
This wonderful memoir by the ultra-talented actor/performer/artist Alan Cumming is a candid look at his childhood growing up on a vast estate on the east coast of Scotland and the physically/mentally abusive father whose violence shaped (and nearly derailed) his life. His father was the head forester, and the laborious tasks that he set for his son were the least of his problems. The reader is startled to learn that “dealing with my father’s violence was the beginning of my studies of acting.” He learns to submerge his feelings, from his father, in order to spare himself from even worse beatings, and from himself as well. The book goes on to explore that period and the toll they take on him, as well as other family mysteries. He states “our family had always been one of secrets, of silence, of holding things in.” The chapters alternate between “Then” and “Now,” the latter period starting in the Spring of 2010, when the author has already achieved a high level of fame and celebrity in film and stage displaying an extraordinary range, everything from playing a transvestite on film to introducing Masterpiece Mysteries on PBS television, the Emcee in Cabaret (the latter such a success that he is now playing the same iconic role in a revival on Broadway), as well as, in an entirely new production, “a man who is admitted to a psychiatric unit and then proceeds to act out the entire play of Macbeth,” an unforgettable performance. Mr. Cumming also has done concerts in 2 of the most beautiful and sophisticated cabaret venues in all of Manhattan: the now-departed Feinstein’s at the Regency, and the Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center. And of course who can forget his wonderful portrayal of Eli Gold, political operative, on the terrific series The Good Wife?! But all of this takes a back seat to the central mysteries of the book: His relationship (such as it was) with his father, in the exploration of which he is joined by his older brother, and seeking the truth about his maternal grandfather, a celebrated WWII hero who disappeared in the Far East, when he agrees to participate in a popular celebrity genealogy show. The surprises come early and often, wringing much emotion and some tears from the author and, I suspect, many of his readers. Mr. Cumming has described himself as “Scottish elf trapped inside middle-aged man’s body,” and the reader cannot but be completely charmed by this engaging man, and completely caught up in this engrossing albeit often-disturbing tale, which is highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alan Cumming's blends two real-life & personal stories into a well crafted book. He shares his childhood & family secrets with the readers in this honest & at times, heartbreaking, story. I recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book made me more of a Alan Cumming fan. I first saw him in Circle of Friends. Reading his life story brought tears to my eyes. How can a kid be treating like so. Heart breaking. A very honest book to read. I reccomend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not at all the usual celebrity biography. A completely human story, with more compassion and understanding than usual. Shows us a remarkable man emerging from an abusive past.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful and touching, very well written book, Helped me to understand some of my own childhood and father.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing and poignant. Shows the strength of the human spirit to survive and triumph through abuse and indifference.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An emotional rollercoaster of emotions will overcome you while reading this book. His ability to understand his current state of being causedby his childhood experiences is relatable to those who grew up in unlikely situations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Peppered with the wit fans love him for, Alan Cumming's memoir is capable of making the reader an emotional wreck on one page, an indignant compadre on another, and a giggling tagalong, thankfully, throughout. Fans will love him more by the end, simply for his willingness to share the pains of life being lived despite outside forces. Perfect accompanied by a glass (bottle, ahem) of wine and a box of tissues.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Alan's journey through life has been difficult and challenging, yet he has turned the negatives into positives by helping others. A truly etraordinary story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very real and personal
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To overcome adversity and hardship and continue on a positive path. A heartfelt book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting read, sad childhood of a man who has triumped in his life over such adversity. Also, mesmorizing facts uncovered re: his grandfather Tom Darling. Finally, so loving toward his mom, and giving her closure to her dad and Alan to his dad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This isn't a "celebrity glitzy jet set life" story meant to show how fabulous life can be. Nor is it a "poor me, look at all I've suffered" book, though indeed suffering is the core of why this book was written. Child abuse, in any form, is incomprehensible and yet it occurs all too frequently. It is unforgivable for a father (in this case) to treat his son with such unrelenting punishment, for the smallest of infractions; to be so rejecting of a child for the real, or worse perceived failure of a spouse. It can be difficult to read about - but woven throughout this autobiography is the thread of self-awareness in a young boy, even as he is being abused by the father he can't understand. The seed of knowing that his abuser was unfair, unkind, unrealistic while he -a child - knew better, WAS a better human being was fortunately kept alive by Alan's mother. One shudders to think of his childhood without her there. Alan's native intelligence and rationality must have been sufficient to basically keep him alive and intact until he grew old enough to go away to school. His father tried to break his spirit, but he failed miserably. So this story is about the soul inside a physical body living through life, suffering but searching for peace, working, making mistakes, learning about himself while living an uncommon life. This is about staying or rather returning to, who you were meant to be. It's about the journey of understanding your life, understanding the why of life altering events and your own reactions to those events. And it's about looking back to find missing pieces of yourself and those who love you - sharing those missing pieces with others who also need them. It's about the value of truth brought out into the open. I sometimes gauge celebrities by whether I'd like to invite them home to dinner. Only those who have great stories to tell and who also enjoy listening to others are invited to my imaginary table. Alan's life now as a famous person, a hardworking celebrity is not one I envy. But he does have great stories to share, and recognizes we all do. He can listen as eloquently as he can speak. I connect with his struggle toward inner peace through deeper understanding and forgiveness. A wacky tilt of the head sense of humor is also an often underrated tool that comes in handy. He has an open invitation to dinner. Life is an uphill climb. But it's worth the view of a job well done.
RChittenden More than 1 year ago
Can a book about child abuse be a wonderful book to Read? Yes, if the story of abuse, it's subsequent affect on one's life, and it's resolution are told with tenderness, truthfulness, and self-awareness by Alan Cumming. I thought this book was going to be about Cumming's struggles with his sexualty. This memoir isn't that. This book is riveting from the first page, touching, and healing. I have always enjoyed Alan Cumming as a performer but now I admire him as a triumphant human being. Victims of physical and emotional abuse will benefit from reading Not My Father's Son, and the rest of us can gain empathy and understanding.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I fell in love with Alan when I saw the movie Romie and Michelle's high school reunion (long time ago!) Thank you for sharing your childhood and adulthood with us. I still love you!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was moved by this book. I couldn't put it down. It's a great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thank you to the author for an inspiring memoir told with grace and wit and deep honesty. Lots of heart and soul in this true-life book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It takes a strong person to survive those circumstances. He not only survived, but was victorious.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A talented actor, singer, and host bares his soul. Worth the time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great thanks to Alan for opening up about his life story. He is a real person with real life's struggles which we at some point in our lives have also. I recommend reading this book. It gives a new perspective about life and not taking things for granted.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Marvelous, moving account of some of the forces that have shaped the life of a gifted actor who is also a man of valor, sensitivity, humor, unflinching honesty, and love; the world is a better place with him in it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
25jump More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book. Love the man even more. After reading his story I can see why he is such a great actor. BRAVO!
pupper More than 1 year ago
Just OK.