The basics: Not My Father's Son is actor Alan Cumming's memoir of his childhood and his experience learning about his family's history on the genealogy reality television show Who Do You Think You Are?
My thoughts: I've enjoyed Alan Cumming's performances in various things over the years, but it wasn't my enjoyment of his craft that made me pick up this audiobook from the library. Instead, I was fascinated by the genealogy and the insight into his experience on Who Do You Think You Are?, a show I've thoroughly enjoyed in the past. The show allows librarians, archivists, historians, and museums to show their value by helping celebrities research their family histories. It's a far more fascinating glimpse into how alike we all really are. I had not, however, seen Cumming's episode. If you have, some of the reveals won't be a surprise, but there is still enough intrigue to make this book worth your while.
I think it's safe to say Cumming's father is a mean and terrible father. In that sense, this memoir is difficult to listen to, but it also offers inspiration, as Cumming was able to overcome the difficulty of such a horrid father. While filming Who Do You Think You Are?, Cumming's estranged father drops a bombshell: he isn't his biological father. While Cumming explores his family's history, he's also working with his brother to investigate his parents. Against all of this backdrop, Cumming continues to perform, both on film and on stage, and he highlights interesting parallels as he travels, works, reflects, and learns about family.
The verdict: Not My Father's Son is a fascinating exploration of how our family impacts who we are. It also offers a glimpse into the life of a famous actor. It's Cumming's searing honesty and reflection that elevate this memoir far above a celebrity memoir. Cumming's performance is exceptional. Definitely opt for this one on audio.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (5 out of 5 for the audio performance)
Length: 6 hours 28 minutes (304 pages)
Publication date: October 7, 2014
Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Not My Father's Son from Amazon (Kindle edition.)
Want more? Visit Alan Cumming's website and follow him on Twitter.
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