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My Name Escapes Me [Paperback]

Alec Guinness
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 1 1998
This eighteen-month diary, from January 1995 to June 1996, from one of the most distinguished--and beloved--actors of stage and screen, reveals the octogenarian spryness of a civilized mind and a beguiling mixture of the meditative and the hedonistic. Sir Alec Guinness's interests and preoccupations recur: theater and film, of course, but also books and paintings; the church, sometimes held up for amused observation; food and drink, from fish'n'chips gatherings with fellow actors in Cambridge to solitary repasts at the Connaught; and the delights of being at home with his wife in the English countryside. Although the entries are written with a keen eye on contemporary events and culture, they also open to a past replete with fascinating memories and anecdotes from his long career. Inevitably, there is a strand of poignancy as friends die and memorial services are attended, but the pleasures and fun to be had with close friends such as Alan Bennett, Irene Worth, and Lauren Bacall form a strong backbone to this marvelously entertaining diary, which offers a glimpse of the private side of Guinness's often very public life.

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From Library Journal

The distinguished British actor Guinness, at 82, laments in his silken voice the indignities of aging. He also reminisces about deceased friends and his early low-pay contracts. He shuns needless spending but believes his country's taxes should support the House of Lords and the Queen. He hails the expectation that Queen Elizabeth might visit the Scottish school where 16 children were slain but omits her decision not to go. In these diary selections from 1995 and early 1996, Sir Alec attends mass with his wife but few current films; reads Dickens but not Austen; digests pork pie but not pressed duck. Talk of his film and stage work is brief, and obscure people's names are numerous. In spite of his familiar, well-recorded voice, many American listeners may find this abridgment bland. Of marginal import to biography collections.?Gordon Blackwell, Eastchester, N.Y.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

From Booklist

"I never liked New Year's Day," begins Guinness, but he decided to start this diary with his 1 January 1995 entry; and he ends the diary on 6 June_ 1996, in acknowledgment of the momentous day in 1940 when his son Matthew was born, or "possibly" the Normandy invasion. The point is that Guinness is concerned so much with beginnings and endings that he calls the reader's attention to them, reminding one and all that the sun is most certainly setting on the end of a sublime actor's days. And there is deep sadness to his recordings of the passings of dear friends and the preparations for memorials. Yet, the diary is about so much more than reflections on death; it is about the full life being lived by a much-beloved actor whose name will long be remembered. Sir Alec's friend John le Carrehas written a warm foreword that complements the diary nicely. Consider it a coda to Guinness' best-selling 1986 autobiography, Blessings in Disguise. Bonnie Smothers --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Through a chink in the bedroom curtains my unenthusiastic eye caught an early-morning glimpse of the New Year: it looked battleship-grey. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine actor admires the twilight July 1 2004
Format:Paperback
Where BLESSINGS IN DISGUISE and A POSITIVELY FINAL APPEARANCE are more organized as memoirs, this is simply a sequence of diary entries prepared for publication. They show a great actor, the dean of Ealing comedies and (to his chagrin) the great Jedi Master, admiring the twilight in his retirement. This is a gentlemanly, sensitive, yet vibrantly witty writer who once described heaven as sitting with one or two friends, sharing a drink and savoring the silence. There are no peekaboo stories about celebrities or iconoclastic commentaries on the state of the world; just an appreciation for an interesting life well-lived, deliciously and intimately inscribed for us in these daily entries.
For a more organized and literary memoir, the two titles mentioned above come highly recommended.
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3.0 out of 5 stars This Will Only Interest the Most Dedicated Fans. Feb. 10 2004
Format:Hardcover
"My Name Escapes Me" is a book of actor Sir Alec Guinness' personal diary entries from January 1995 to June 1996, which he wrote with publication in mind. I have to give Sir Alec credit: His diary is not as tedious as most people's would be. His writing has a nice pace, and the book is mercifully short. But there simply isn't anything interesting about it. Sir Alec was 82 years old and retired when he wrote this diary. He spent most of his time relaxing at his country home. If he were working, he might have had more interesting anecdotes to relate or perhaps some insight into the process of putting on a play or making a movie to share. But it takes a more talented writer to make something interesting out of the mundane. Sir Alec mentions music that he likes, plays that he sees, books that he reads, art in various forms, but he never expounds on these subjects, so we don't learn anything about the subjects or about him. He doesn't seem to be an opinionated person. Opinions, however trying, might make for better reading. All in all, "My Name Escapes Me" gives the impression of a man of moderate writing talent and moderate intelligence. It's really too bad that no publisher asked Alec Guinness to write a diary for publication earlier in his life. His style is both literate and easy-going. If it had been applied to the life of a working actor, an insightful and highly readable book might have resulted. But as it is, I think only obsessively curious fans of Alec Guinness will find anything of interest in "My Name Escapes Me".
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5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful and charming Sept. 17 2000
By rpagan
Format:Paperback
sir alec must have been a kind and gentle man. i found in this book that he was charming and witty and deliberately effacing. it takes us on a journey to his many memories of movies,tv,politics, and a great cast of characters that he's met over the years. it's a quiet and calm book. a very relaxing and entertaining read. and what a since of humor!
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