Review: Not My Father’s Son – Alan Cumming.

With celebrity memoirs, there’s doses of scandal, gossip and an insight into controversial periods of their careers through their own eyes. That’s usually how it goes, but not here.

Alan Cumming’s Not My Father’s Son has its little oddities (like his ever-evolving hair), but overall it’s a unique memoir on the relationship with his father, and the family secrets that were set to unravel with his appearance on Who Do You Think You Are? and beyond.

With a physically and emotionally abusive father plaguing his childhood, the will to escape and live his own life driving his ambitions at an early age, Cumming’s story could be told in many ways, but it’s handled incredibly well. When you finish it, you realise how staggering the story that he’s ended up telling is, and he tells it with such grace and without self-pity (something a lot of autobiographies fail at on far lesser circumstances). Family, mental health, press intrusion are all touched on.

It’s an honest look at families and definitely something unique when it comes to the celebrity memoir. Read it on sitting, can’t really do it justice, so perhaps I’ll momentary pinch Neil Gaiman’s ringing endorsement for it:

“Equal parts memoir, whodunnit and manual for living… I was completely sucked in.”

As someone who likes Alan Cumming but hasn’t followed his personal story, this was all new information, but also just a really good book.

[★★★★★]
Canongate Books
@heathermmcd

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