NOT MY FATHER'S SON by Alan Cumming

NOT MY FATHER'S SON

A Memoir

KIRKUS REVIEW

The award-winning actor uncovers his family's darkest secret.

Instead of writing a showbiz memoir with stories of his eclectic career, Cumming—who has won countless acting awards, including a Tony for his role in Cabaret—anchors his book with his discovery of the truth about his grandfather's premature death (at age 35) and a recognition of the "dual family narrative" of shame and secrecy. He came to understand that both he and his grandfather Tommy Darling suffered combat stress: Darling as a decorated World War II soldier and the author at the hands of his father. Cumming creates visceral scenes of his father's unhinged, irrational anger during his childhood in the Scottish countryside. He details the physical and psychological violence his father mercilessly heaped upon him, including a beating so ferocious he wanted to die, having his hair brutally shorn against his will with rusty clippers used on sheep, and hearing countless times that he was pathetic and useless. Cumming and his brother learned to shut down their emotions and suppress any feelings of joy, lest their vindictive, tyrannical father remove from their lives whatever gave them pleasure. As an adult, he freely expresses the authentic "pixielike" personality he abandoned in childhood, when he couldn't play and enjoy life. He also kept some totems from his childhood, miserable though it was (he even wore his father's sweater in his first headshot!), since he regards them as "a part of my happiness today, because it is a part of me." From discovering the truth about his grandfather's mysterious death to attempting to understand his father's sadistic nature, Cumming explains that it is important to be candid and forthright, that “there is never shame in being open and honest.”

A raw, revealing memoir from a courageous actor and writer.

Pub Date: Oct. 7th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0062225061
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: It Books/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2014




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