Book 30

Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming

When you see that a book is by Alan Cumming, you expect a rollicking good time, right?  Even if the book is about his abusive father and difficult childhood (intersperse with a few anecdotes about his coming to terms with same as an adult).

You expect famous-person name-dropping and lots of funny stories and maybe even some sex.  You get a tiny bit of the first one, very little of the second (way more sad stories), and as far as I remember none of the third.

I enjoyed the book overall; I really did.  But in the same way that NPH’s memoir had too much light and laughter without any darkness at all, this one had too much darkness.  I mean, he’s in a happy relationship now, and there’s a nice “closure” scene at the end with the whole family.  But none of it is “light” at all.

I know, I know… not what this story is about.  It’s not really his autobiography, but really a very particular thread followed through his childhood and tied off at a particular point in his adult life.  But somehow I wanted just a bit more.

I also found the structure of interlaced “then and now” chapters.  A situation would be set up in the “now” timeline and then take seemingly forever to resolve itself, partly because the storytelling is so obstinately linear in that particular timeline and partly because of the interspersed (and less linear) “then” chapters.  I understand what he was trying to do, but I think the structure was less than successful.

Still, Alan Cumming is charming and it was nice to hang out with him for a bit.  I hope next time he’ll bring some more uplifting tales.

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