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The way an audio book works is this: you listen to a chapter, maybe two if you're extravagant, then you put down your iPod and get on with what needs doing.
But Alan Cumming doesn't play fair. Not only is he a great reader (I mean, he's Alan Cumming, for crying out loud) but he's also an amazing writer. He has mastered the art of narrative and the chapter ending cliff hanger, and as a result I spent the best part of my Saturday not working, but listening. I tried to listen while I worked, but then I found myself just standing in the middle of my living room with a dust cloth in my hands, listening.
This is not your typical collection of show biz party stories, but a painful memoir of a man coming to terms with his very difficult childhood. This should be a real downer, but somehow it's not. It's a triumph. There is not only honesty in this story, but love -- love for his family, love for the reader, love for the craft of story telling.
Not My Father's Son is simply the most satisfying "listen" I've had all year. Buy it.
45 of 45 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Yes! Alan Cumming tells his story openly, without apology or any semblance of self pity. His is not merely a morbid tale. Mr. Cumming is a bright, talented, positive, joyful, loving man. The dark early years of his life are balanced by the accomplishments of his adult years. Both dark and light times unite as Mr. Cumming works through his pain and uncovers the truth about the abuse suffered at the hands of his disturbed father, alongside revelations regarding his maternal grandfather, whose fate had been a long time family mystery. In relating his story, Mr. Cumming switches back and forth from "then" to present time, a marvelous technique. His life plays out like one of those fascinating "Mystery!" shows that he introduces on public TV--suspenseful, dramatic, yet also warm and often humorous,
What was one of the most memorable moments of Not My Father's Son: A Memoir?
Many moments were pivotal. I think the greatest had to do with the ultimate answer as to whether Alan's dad was his real father. I was spellbound when he confronted his dad with the truth.
Which scene was your favorite?
Again, so many to choose from. For me, the most moving was Mr. Cumming's return visit to his childhood home, related near the end. I recently had a similar experience viewing my childhood home. I felt so many strong, conflicting emotions--some good, some painful. My dad had his share of dark and negative parenting moments, but he did sometimes mange to be positive, appreciative and supportive. Still, our family had to keep much to ourselves in order to avoid provoking angry outbursts and deeply painful criticism from my dad, along with occasional overly vigorous corporal discipline. But my dad was an amateur compared to Mr. Cumming's father when it came to physical and emotional abuse.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
See the above. In this case, favorite and most moving scenes are the same for me. (These review questions are somewhat redundant.)
Any additional comments?
I loved listening to Mr. Cumming as he related his story. It wasn't just his charming accent that made him a good narrator, nor his actor's abiltiy to use his voice to best advantage. Mr. Cumming's every word carried sincere emotion. I felt like we were sitting together in private, and he was kindly sharing his life with me. His narration was not a performance. It was a gift.
30 of 30 people found this review helpful