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Not My Father's Son: A Memoir Hardcover – Oct 7 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Dey Street Books (Oct. 7 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062225065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062225061
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.6 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 390 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #64,189 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

Alan Cumming’s moving memoir NOT MY FATHER’S SON is a beautiful book—sad, funny, haunting, surprising, suspenseful, gut-wrenching, endearing. It will linger inside of you long after you turn the final page. (Harlan Coben, author of New York Times bestsellers Missing You and Six Years)

“Equal parts memoir, whodunnit, and manual for living, NOT MY FATHER’S SON is a beautifully written, honest look at the forces of blood and bone that make us what we are, and how we make ourselves. I was completely sucked in.” (Neil Gaiman, author of American Gods and Ocean at the End of the Lane)

From the Back Cover

Dark, painful memories can be like a cage. Or, in the case of Alan Cumming, they can be packed away in a box, stuck in the attic to be forgotten. Until one day the box explodes and all the memories flood back in horrible detail. Alan Cumming grew up in the grip of a man who held his family hostage, someone who meted out violence with a frightening ease, who waged a silent war with himself that sometimes spilled over onto everyone around him. That man was Alex Cumming, Alan's father.

When television producers approached Alan to appear on a popular celebrity genealogy show in 2010, he enthusiastically agreed. He hoped to solve a mystery that had long cast a shadow over his family. His maternal grandfather, Tommy Darling, had disappeared into the Far East after WWII. Alan's mother knew very little about him—he had been a courier, carrying information between battalions on his motorbike. The last time she saw her father, Alan's mother was eight years old. When she was thirteen, the family was informed that he had died by his own hand, an accidental shooting.

But this was not the only mystery laid before Alan's feet. His father, whom Alan had not seen or spoken to for more than a decade, reconnected just before filming for Who Do You Think You Are? began. He had a secret he had to share, one that would shock his son to his very core and set into motion a journey that would change Alan's life forever.

With ribald humor, wit, and incredible insight, Alan seamlessly moves back and forth in time, integrating stories from his childhood in Scotland and his experiences today as the celebrated actor of film, television, and stage. At times suspenseful, at times deeply moving, but always incredibly brave and honest, Not My Father's Son is a powerful story of embracing the best aspects of the past and triumphantly pushing the darkness aside.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Alan Cumming seemed to grow up in a beautifully landscaped Scottish estate, while trapped by the nonsensical tirades of his father. The physical and emotional abuse that he endured is heartbreaking, and his attempts to understand his father are difficult to comprehend.
This is a sad yet triumphant book, by a respected artist, and is well worth the read.
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By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Jan. 11 2015
Format: Hardcover
A few years ago, actor Alan Cumming was approached by the BBC to be in the show "Who Do You Think You Are?," which delves into the ancestry of various celebrities. Then he got a shocking phone call from his father, claiming that Cumming was not actually his son.

This suckerpunch serves as the springboard for "Not My Father's Son: A Memoir," a book-length catharsis for Alan Cumming's myriad family issues. Cumming's memoir of family, abuse and personal upheaval serves two purposes -- to explore his traumatic childhood and how he struggles to most past it, and an exploration of a mysterious figure in his mother's family.

The news that his father may not actually be his father leads Cumming to reflect on his unhappy childhood -- a childhood where he and his brother Tom were mentally and physically abused by their dad, who would fly into screaming, savage rages at the slightest provocation. He also cheated blatantly on their long-suffering mother, who unfortunately did not divorce him until Alan was in his late teens. In the years that followed, an icy estrangement popped up between them.

Determined to know the truth, Cumming decides to get a DNA test to find out if his father's claims are true. And at the same time, he reflects on how this has overshadowed his life -- a breakdown, the failure of his first marriage, and the issues he's still working with. And while waiting for the test results, Cumming begins investing his maternal grandfather, a World War II hero who mysteriously left his family for south-east Asia and was killed under mysterious circumstances.

"Not My Father's Son: A Memoir" is a very non-linear biography -- Cumming bounces like a pinball between about half a dozen time periods.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This touching memoir of a not so ordinary life spoke to me because of the work I do with adolescent males. Mr. Cumming is not just an actor and director, he is a writer to be admired. Honest, sometimes raw and always interesting, this book speaks of many things including the important aspect of healing. Thank you, Mr. Cumming, for sharing your story. It will be of great help to others for a long time to come.
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By Lynne Frappier TOP 500 REVIEWER on Dec 16 2014
Format: Hardcover
A wonderful read. A book that isn't about being famous, but rather about finding himself. Cumming's doesn't try to romanticize his past, nor does he ask for sympathy. He just wants to tell his story; honestly, brutally, and simply. I enjoyed following him on his discovery of his past - the stuff he remembered and the stuff he learned. Would happily read more of his stuff.
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This is not your typical autobiography. In fact, it's more like a novel in many ways. Alan Cumming had a brutal upbringing at the hands of his ignorant father who maligned him at every turn, frightened him with his threats and beat him at nearly every turn. Through all this his Mother counteracted that mean behavior with her unrelenting love for him. Along with his older brother, he has survived this past and become the success he is today as an actor, in film and on T.V. and Broadway and West End performer par excellence. During the filming of the U.K. version of the geneology program "Who do you think you are"., he was determined to uncover the mystery behind his maternal grandfather's disappearance and eventual demise. At the same time, his father sends a message to him, that he is not his biological son. That, in fact , he is the product of an affair his mother had. So now Cumming has two mysteries to solve. Again he is determined to get to the truth about his own parentage.

I will not give away the answer to either of these questions, but I recommend you find out by reading this most interesting book. I always enjoyed watching Alan Cumming work, but now I view him with a different kind of respect.
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Format: Hardcover
This was an emotionally difficult read, yet so insightful and rewarding in the end. I loved the conversational tone. It was absolutely, perfectly married to the subject matter. If anyone needs affirmation that biology is not destiny, Alan Cumming's memoir should be on their mandatory reading list.
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Couldn't put this book down. So sad so funny so wise. Really truly incredible! All at once a gripping pursuit of origins and redemption. The inspiring wisdom and immense spirit to overcome parent- induced emotional terrorism at its worst. Alan Cumming is anything but just a pretty face. Wow!
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I love reading memoirs, they give insight into the lives of people we only know superficially. I love Alan Cumming's work for both his passion and his ability to show vulnerability. After reading this book, it is clear where he gets this ability. Cumming goes through his obviously traumatic childhood and his life with honesty and openness. The things he has put on paper are sometimes hard to read as they resonate as being all too true. What is engaging about this book is that in spite of the pain, he talks about joy, love and happiness; the book isn't grim for all its sad moments. In many ways it feels like someone taking stock of their life by putting their thoughts on paper than an actual biography.
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