Read not my father s son by Alan Cumming Online


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 silentDark, 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 13, 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.©2014 Alan Cumming (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers...

Title : not my father s son
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 23633501
Format Type : Audiobook
Number of Pages : 462 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

not my father s son Reviews

  • Will Byrnes
    2019-05-13 16:55

    Wilkommen, bienvenue, welcome! Settle in for a story that is appalling and entertaining, hopeful and disappointing, reflective and sometimes ephemeral. Life is disappointing? Forget it. It is a good thing that this advice was not followed. Remembering seems more the thing.We have no troubles here. Here life is beautiful. Ummm, not so much. And now, Meine Damen und Herren, Mes Dames et Messieurs, Ladies and Gentlemen,Ich bin eur confrencier, je suis votre compere…I am your host. the star of our show: Cumming in the 1998 production - from“You need a haircut, boy!” My father had only glanced at me across the kitchen table as he spoke but I had already seen in his eyes the coming storm.I tried to speak but the fear that now engulfed me made it hard to swallow, and all that came out was a little gasping sound that hurt my throat even more. And I knew speaking would only make things worse, make him despise me more, make him pounce sooner. That was the worst bit, the waiting. I never knew exactly when it would come, and that, I know, was his favorite part. Alan Cumming, star of stage and screen, notable Cabaret emcee, introducer of Masterpiece Mystery, bluish X-man, Smurf voice, and political operative Eli Gold on The Good Wife, among many other memorable characters, was raised on a large estate in Scotland. His father, Alex, was the head groundskeeper. He was also a mercurial and often cruel and violent parent to both Alan and his older brother Tom, offering ambiguous instructions to the boys and almost always finding the resulting work unsatisfactory, an excuse to justify the punishment that usually followed. Cumming’s experience as a battered child, coming to terms as an adult with some of the reasons for his harsh upbringing, and attempting to finally, decades later, move past it, is the core of the story in Not My Father’s Son. But this is not just a story of the father he knew. It is also about the grandfather he had never met. Mary Darling and Alex Cumming – wedding day - from the NY TimesIn 2010, Cumming, having attained a certain level of celebrity, was invited by the British show Who Do You Think you Are (now in the USA as well) to be a subject for their weekly genealogy quest program. The research that was intrinsic to this process would cast light on a black hole in his family history. As awful as his father was, Mary Darling, Alan’s mother, was his angel, always supporting and nurturing him. Within limits, of course. She did not seem to do a very good job of preventing her husband from tormenting their sons. She had last seen her own father, Tommie Darling, when she was eight years old. He had supposedly died in a gun accident in Malaysia in 1951. The family knew very little about him, and had few remnants of his existence. The TV show would follow that trail and find out what had happened to Tommie. (There is a link to the entire program in the EXTRA STUFF section below) Just before this process began, Alan’s father, long estranged, got in touch, passing along a disturbing piece of information.As Eli Gold and Nightcrawler - from NothingButMemory.netOne part of this memoir is travelling along and peeling back the layers of the mystery that was Tommie Darling. (Peter Pan was not involved) As researchers for the program unearth more and more information about Tommie, Alan learns more and more about not only his family, but sees in his ancestor traits he recognizes in himself. Masterpiece Mystery host - from the Boston HeraldChapters alternate, more or less, between now (2010) and then, the years of Alan’s childhood, the new work prodding recollections of the past. However, it is not all childhood and now. Cumming also tells of his breakdown at age 28 when he was starring in a London production of Hamlet, rehearsing for his breakthrough role as the emcee in the London revival of Cabaret and planning to have a child with his wife. There is some detail here. Later he tells of meeting his current mate when he was 39. He seems to have packs of friends, who remain mostly nameless, in both London and New York, and who function as scenery, for the most part. He offers a few tales from his acting life. When I joined Twitter I described myself as “Scottish elf trapped inside a middle aged man’s body” and I still think that’s accurate.Despite Cumming’s elfishness, there is not much comedy in the book. Although Cumming the performer does indeed present a pixie-ish facade, the only real laugh, at least for me, was when he talked about Patti Smith and a particular vile habit of hers. A story about attempting to film against the incessant noise in South Africa during a particularly noisy World Cup is another light moment. A youthful masturbatory scene that one thinks might be queasily amusing turns in another, far more substantive direction. The two parts of this story now seem so clearly connected, mirroring each other perfectly. I had lost a father but found a grandfather. One of them had never sought the truth and lived a life based on a lie; the other’s truth was hidden from us because society deemed it unsuitable. Both caused strife, and sadness. But now, both combined to reinforce for me what I knew to be the only truth: there is never shame in being open and honest. It was shame that prevented us from knowing what a great man Tommy Darling was. And it was shame that made my father treat me and Tom and my mum the way he did.Not My Father’s Son is a moving and fascinating tale, and probably would not have been told had Cumming not been world famous. TV programs do not seek out the likes of you or me to give them permission to travel the world looking into our backgrounds. Most of us do not have the resources to delve into our family history so richly. It remains to be seen if the book would have been written had the TV program not been made. Cumming had indeed been thinking about his childhood for some time, but it was the show that prompted him to move ahead with it. What Cumming’s talent did was give him a way to get out of a bad situation. A lesser light might have dimmed if left in that place. One thing the book might do is prompt a bit of reflection. Surely there are leafless branches on all our family trees and Cumming’s tale of looking into his might encourage some of us to consider looking into some of ours. And maybe to look a bit closer at even our known history for a bit of help in explaining how we became the people we are.Tom, Mary and Alan at Tommie’s graveI have admired Alan Cumming as a performer ever since seeing him in the New York revival of Cabaret back in 1998. I now admire him as a writer as well. He has written a moving memoir of a father lost and a grandfather gained. It is rich with reflection, insight, pain, and healing. Any decent father would be bursting with pride to have a son capable of writing such a book.Review posted – 10/17/14Publication date – 10/7/14This review has also been posted at STUFFLinks to the author’s personal and Twitter pagesHe is not on Facebook. Some miscreants have posed as him, but those pages have been taken downDefinitely check out his site. It is a cornucopia of info.NY Timesarticleon AlanHere is the fullWho Do You Think You Areepisode from September 2010 - oops - it is no longer there. Warner has removed it from view. :-(

  • Diane
    2019-05-17 15:04

    This memoir blew me away. I had no idea Alan Cumming had such a miserable childhood. After finishing this I wanted to give the guy a hug.I knew little about the book when I downloaded it* — I chose it because I like Alan Cumming as an actor, and he has that charming Scottish accent, so I thought it would be a good audiobook.Alan was a wonderful narrator, but this memoir was quite dark. It tells how Alan's father terrorized and abused him, and of Alan's search to learn more about his grandfather, who died under mysterious circumstances in Malaysia.The memoir alternates between flashbacks to Alan's childhood and a bizarre experience that Alan had in 2010. I hesitate to spoil any details, because not knowing the story made it more thrilling to read. But I will say that Alan's father was skilled at causing chaos and disrupting his family, and he told Alan a secret that made Alan question everything he thought he knew.Thankfully, the book was not all bleak. There are some sweet stories about his granny, and amusing stories with Alan's husband, Grant, and Alan is gifted at sharing the humor of a situation. One of my favorite of his childhood remembrances was the day he was at a fair and he found himself all alone because his father had disappeared with his mistress. Alan suddenly decided to buy himself his own set of dishes:"I didn't mean to. I was thirteen, after all, and not likely to be throwing any dinner parties for quite a while hence. But I needed to feel comfort, I needed to know there was a future for me that did not involve my father and a woman who was not my mother running around like schoolchildren trying to hide from me, dashing off to the back of a van carefully parked in a quiet side street. I needed to imagine a home where I would not be tormented, where I would be in control, where I would be the one inviting others into my space, and I would be providing for them ... Up until very recently I still had one of the saucers from that dinner service."I think this book would be comforting to people who have had some experience with abuse, because Alan's story is also one of survival, and how he was eventually able to confront his father and break free from him. Fans of Alan Cumming would also like it because he shares stories of how he got started in acting, and explains why he has had so many different hair styles over the years. (Hint: it was an act of rebellion against his dad.) Highly recommended.FAVORITE QUOTE:"Memory is so subjective. We all remember in a visceral, emotional way, and so even if we agree on the facts — what was said, what happened where and when — what we take away and store from a moment, what we feel about it, can vary radically."*FOOTNOTE:I downloaded Not My Father's Son on Super Bowl Sunday, which is the biggest sports day of the year in America. Since I do not like to watch American football, let alone 8 hours of it, I was trawling for a new book to read. Alan Cumming's memoir was so compelling that I only paused it once — to watch Katy Perry's halftime show. I finished the book just as the Super Bowl was ending, so I am calling that a huge win for Team Readers.

  • Elyse
    2019-05-06 12:10

    Audiobook......Alan Cumming, Scottish and American actor, singer/performer, author, and activist....survived the most horrific childhood from brutal emotional and physical abuse. His father who would inflict harm on him with no warning. This is a very powerful audiobook - hard to pull away from. It's a suspenseful memoir. Alan doesn't hold back. He said that his difficult childhood taught him how to act by needing to suppress his own emotions and feelings around his father when he was a little boy. He does have some happy memories of his childhood-and a special 'survival-closeness' with his mother and brother, Tom. Alan appeared on the UK show, "Who Do You Think You Are?"..... A show where famous people came on to find out more in-depth history about their genealogy. Alan asked the show to look into his grandfather who he had not seen since he had been a little boy... but Alan gets much more than he asked for involving his father and things get very complex and shocking. As sad as Alan's childhood was - horrible painful experiences- ( and the storytelling moves back and forth between his childhood days and his adult days) - ultimatelythis is an inspiring/ empowering story. He doesn't live a life as a victim. We see clearly from Alan's story the value from digging up the hidden 'truths'. We see what suppressing costs a person --and the courage it takes to make peace with abuse --breakthrough to live life to the fullest! Very inspiring for anyone who has suffered from abuse. The audiobook is excellent with Alan reading his own book!

  • Wart Hill
    2019-05-09 12:52

    Dear Mr. Cumming, I feel you deserve a big hug. Since the chances of me ever giving you one are beyond nonexistent, I say this: Grant, give him a hug for me, please.Sincerely,Wart.Full review to come. Maybe.

  • Glenn Sumi
    2019-05-12 12:55

    The puckishly charismatic actor Alan Cumming (The Good Wife, Spy Kids, Cabaret) delves into his horrific childhood and uncovers secrets from his family's history in this brave, beautifully written and honest memoir. The book is anything but a typical celebrity tell-all.Through a BBC genealogy reality TV show called Who Do You Think You Are?, Cumming learns about his maternal grandfather – who died under mysterious circumstances in his 30s – at the same time that his physically and emotionally abusive father reveals he might not be his biological dad.Both events – which together have the feel of an ancient Greek drama – set in motion a life-changing journey that's full of heart, humour and hope. Be prepared for some hard-to-read scenes of abuse. Cumming’s father Alex, a manager of a Scottish estate, systematically brutalized and belittled both Alan and his older brother Tom when they were younger. He also carried on a series of affairs in front of the boys and their mother, Mary Darling. Alan suppressed these disturbing memories; only after experiencing a nervous breakdown in his early 20s – while playing Hamlet – did they return.In one of several wise and funny observations, Alan says his difficult childhood – with his father claiming he was worthless and his mother saying the opposite – prepared him for a career in show business. If you believed one, he suggests, you had to believe the other. So he learned not to take things personally in the ego-crushing industry.The book’s time-jumping structure takes some time to get used to, but it’s a lot more interesting than a straightforward chronological approach. And there’s a lot to pack in, including stories about three generations of family, the odd celebrity anecdote (look for the amusing story involving Patti Smith, Marion Cotillard and Mary J. Blige in Cannes) and mention of Cumming's marriages (one to a woman, while in his 20s, the other to a man, while in his 40s).As Cumming’s past catches up with his present – and he bravely confronts his demons – there are some remarkable sequences, which I won’t spoil here. But I should say that having read Not My Father's Son, I now have so much more respect for Cumming as a man and an artist. His story is inspiring and life-affirming.

  • J.L. Sutton
    2019-05-21 15:10

    The scars of an abusive childhood form the backdrop for Alan Cumming's Not My Father's Son. I really enjoy memoirs, but I sometimes have to question why I enjoy them. Scenes from Cumming's childhood were brutal; in addition to outright violence, his father knew just what to do to make sure Cumming and his brother never received approval or validation for anything they did. This is not a childhood we would wish on anyone. Does Cumming rise above this childhood? Does he redeem himself from the horror of living in fear from those who should support and love him? When we read memoirs, I think we expect the author to reconcile him/herself with their painful past. I'm not sure that happened entirely. While preparing for an episode of the UK version of Who Do You Think You Are, Cumming's estranged and abusive father interjects himself into his son's life. While the program was showcasing a mystery in Cumming's family (a maternal grandfather who disappeared when he was Cumming was a boy), this other side of his family arguably demonstrated a more enduring impact. There is certainly power in laying bare such truths. Many would prefer such stories to remain buried, but they are the truths by which we live our imperfect lives.

  • Stephanie *Very Stable Genius*
    2019-04-23 12:09

    “Sometimes people do you a favour when they drop out of your life.” Truth.I’m struggling with my words here, so I’m just going to simplify them. Alex Cumming (Alan’s dad) was a raging, abusive asshole. Astonishingly, Alan Cumming is not. He really ought to be, growing up in Hell, instead he seems to have come through to the other side as a pretty fantastic fella. I’d love to tell him that in person and give him a hug.Growing up in a situation with a man who could (and would) blow his top at the slightest provocation, Alan had to learn to act. He learned well. It was an awful way to learn his craft, but Alan attributes this skill to having to act his way around his dad……to learn how not to set him off. Alan is not only a great actor, he’s a pretty darn good writer as well. He has done a good job here moving back and forth through time and pulling the two together in a way that makes sense. It’s a compelling, emotional, open and honest memoir and I highly recommend it.Yes it’s dark, but it also has some funny in it too.“For yes, being a woman, even one with a penis and for the purposes of drama, really made me feel that women have been coerced into a way of presenting themselves that is basically a form of bondage. Their shoes, their skirts, even their nails seem designed to stop them from being able to escape whilst at the same time drawing attention to their sexual and secondary sexual characteristics. And I think that has happened so that men feel they can ogle them and protect them in equal measure.” What pushed this book over the top for me and made it a five star was that I listened to the audio version read by the author. Being that he can act and that this is his story, he did it very well and added the perfect amount of emotion at all the right moments.In fact, I could listen to him read Heaven is for Real, front to back, and not gag once…..or the phone book, the bible, the menu from Cracker Barrel…..he’s just that good.

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    2019-05-02 13:51

    Review of the audio read by Alan Cumming. Just a few thoughts I have to get down. Audios read by the author are always among my favorites. There is an honesty there that I connect with, and that was even more true with Alan Cumming's reading of Not My Father's Son. This was a deeply personal account of Alan's childhood, his harsh and violent father, his loving mother (I loved her name "Mary Darling"), and his forgotten and misunderstood grandfather. This is a solid, heartfelt memoir. Well-done.

  • Greta
    2019-05-15 15:42

    Happiness erasedClouded by fear, humiliation, painDarkens my mindIrrationality, rage, violenceAnxious, never relaxShutting down, never speakJoy suppressed, hurts lessTension, humiliationBecome nothingGive nothing awayDarkness, silence, fearNever safeNavigating a minefieldUnhealthyFailings, feeling guiltyWorthless, loath myself"I'm sorry"Silent house, facadesVolatility Denial, never relyUnresolved pain, hurtMy own mind, my own opinionGates open, trickle, floodFill my head, explodeSadness, deep depression Need to be awaySort myself outCocoonFeel, remember, mournGazing, remembering, reliving Horrifying, liberating UnderstandFragile, terrified, vulnerable Raw, painfulTelling, collapsing, weepingAccepted and understoodShame, griefAcknowledgment, apology Mind games, scare tactics Manipulation, intimidation Egotism, madnessFalse assumptions Abuse, justify, despicable Dark secrets, twisted reality, paranoia Truth, openness, commitmentIllogical, impossible to fathomLittle boy, surrealEmpty, nagging acheMarks, closed off, embracingTaken away, shaken up, recalibratedCarry on, no choice, reassessShut the door, dead"I'm not my father's son"

  • Barbara
    2019-04-22 11:02

    Alan Cumming is a Scottish actor who's probably best known in America for hosting "Masterpiece Theater" on PBS and playing Eli Gold on "The Good Wife". He's also a very successful stage and movie actor, now happily married to his husband Grant. Alan's life wasn't always so bright though. In this memoir Alan talks about growing up with a father, Alex Cumming, who was physically, psychologically, and emotionally abusive. The book starts off with a bang as Alan describes a childhood scene where his vicious father yanked him out to the barn, threw him down on a table, and roughly shaved his head with sheep shears. Alan and his brother Tom lived in constant fear of their dad, who perpetually criticized and banged them around. The impetus to write this book came from Alan's planned 2010 appearance on the British TV show "Who Do You Think You Are?". Celebrities who go on the show have aspects of their ancestry/past revealed, things that are often a surprise to them. (In an American version of this show, for example, Ben Affleck was shocked to learn his ancestors owned slaves.)In Alan's case, he hoped to find out more about his maternal grandfather, Tommy Darling. Tommy survived fighting in World War II but didn't come home when hostilities ended. Instead Tommy became a police officer in Malaya, where he was supposedly killed by an accidental gunshot wound. Tommy left behind his wife, Mary Darling, and four children. The Darlings struggled to get by without Tommy's income or pension. Alan wanted to find out more about this mysterious granddad, as well as other aspects of his own past.While Alan was filming "Who Do You Think You Are?" - which required traveling around the world with the show's production team - Alex Cumming dropped a bombshell. He revealed that he wasn't Alan's father. Alex claimed that he had caught his wife leaving a bedroom with another man nine months before Alan was born, and that this man was Alan's father. According to Alex he wanted to give Alan a heads-up so the actor wouldn't be blindsided when this news came to light on the TV show. The book jumps back and forth between Alan's youth and adulthood. In the 'then' sections Alan describes childhood incidents where his father yelled at him, threw him around, hit him, degraded him, embarassed him, and so on. Alan also talks about his father's constant public infidelities, which humiliated his wife and sons. In fact Alex sometimes took Alan along when he was meeting other women. These parts of the book are very disturbing. In the 'now' sections Alan reveals the residual anxiety he feels from his childhood. He also writes about his acting gigs; professional successes; ex-wife; fears about having children (he has none); nervous breakdown; therapist; husband; friends; beloved mother, brother, and granny; parties; dinners; wine; etc. - in short, his life as an adult. Alan also discusses his reaction to Alex Cumming announcing that he isn't the actor's biological father. Could this explain why Alex was always so cruel and hateful? Or did Alex just make this up to cause Alan more pain? Alan makes sure to find out the truth!The book is well-written, enlightening, entertaining, and uplifting. It's good to learn that children with awful childhoods can go on to live happy, successful lives. I highly recommend this book to people who enjoy celebrity memoirs. This is a very good one.You can follow my reviews at

  • Sue
    2019-04-30 14:56

    After reading Will Byrne's review of this book and then watching Cumming's episode of Who Do You Think You Are on YouTube, I just had to settle in with the book for myself. I've enjoyed Alan Cumming in various performances for quite some time and it is now very interesting to learn more of the whole person and his earlier life.The world really opened up for him as he grew up and, especially during the year when he was filming the genealogy show, he learned more than he ever would have expected about his family and, ultimately, about himself. While the show led to information about his mother's father, Tommy Darling, a man who was largely unknown to the family, other events opened up Alan's eyes to the reality of his abusive father Alex who had been in and out of his life, mostly out, for years.I found that this book complements the TV show wonderfully and explains the occasional worn and frazzled appearance I had noticed. So much was going on in the background! If you like Alan Cumming, if you appreciate learning of how an adult learns to live with the result of all the abuse heaped on them in childhood, then this may well be a book for you. I recommend it.

  • Antonio
    2019-05-10 16:50

    “Finally, the scariest thing about abuse of any shape or form, is, in my opinion, not the abuse itself, but that if it continues it can begin to feel commonplace and eventually acceptable.”Wow. I think everyone is surprised by how hard and painful was Alan's childhood. He grew up in a lair where fear was part of the routine, where one had to learn to read expressions like a book, so it was possible to be ready - was it possible to ever be ready, though? - to what was coming. Aggression and humiliation shaping one's life.“Sometimes people do you a favour when they drop out of your life.” They sure do it. Being far from your abuser, from the unhappy place in which you grew up, is a liberating feeling. It feels like there's finally the sun illuminating and warming your body. A body which forgot what warmness felt like. A body left alone in the devasted frozen tundra that was its reality for so long.“Had I not had the childhood I did, would these traits not be so at the forefront of my personality? Who knows? All I know is that I am the product of all the experiences I have had, good and bad, and if I am in a happy place in my life (as I truly am), then I can have no regrets about any of the combination of events and circumstances that have led me to the here and now.” That's, however, it's part of the person Alan Cumming became. For the good and for the bad. Everything we go through has a significant importance in our identity. It's undeniable. We can only try to deal with everything in the best possible way, being open about it and guaranteeing that it won't happen again. We can use all the memories in our favor, fighting for brighter days not only to ourselves but also to humankind. “Memory is so subjective. We all remember in a visceral, emotional way, and so even if we agree on the facts—what was said, what happened where and when—what we take away and store from a moment, what we feel about it, can vary radically.”

  • Becky
    2019-05-05 14:53

    Blargh. This is another review that I just don't know how to start. I've typed and deleted about 6 different versions already, so I've given up and now THIS is how I'm starting it. That's the way it goes sometimes. It's after midnight and I'm determined to finish this review so I don't have it hanging over my head any longer. So. Alan Cumming. It might be surprising to some of you, but I've seen very little that he's been in, yet for some reason, I have nothing but positive associations in my mind when it comes to him. (Or I did before - now there's a tiny blemish thanks to the trivia on his IMDB page saying that he turned down the role of Gilderoy Lockhart because he didn't want to make less money than amateur Rupert Grint. Tsk!) Anyway, what I'm getting at is that when I saw he had this book out, I thought "Oh, I like him! I'll pick that up!" So I did. And eventually I even got around to reading it. Will wonders never cease? :DI listened to this on audio, read by Cumming himself, which was fantastic. I adore his accent, and having him telling his story made the experience feel so much more intimate and personal than reading it would have been. It allowed the humor to come through, the pain to come through, his personality to come through. I loved it. Well, as much as you can love someone telling you about the emotional, psychological, and physical abuse that they endured. I guess what I really mean is that this was a powerful story, and it touched me, and I'm happy and proud that he survived it to become the person he is today. In that way, I loved it. But it broke my heart to listen to much of it. This memoir is focused dually on two specific stories that intertwine - his relationship (or lack thereof) with his father, and his experience with the show "Who Do You Think You Are?" which seeks out lost family history - in this case, that of Alan's maternal grandfather, who died when his mother was young. These stories parallel and intersect in many ways, and it was so interesting to hear the behind the scenes stuff that you don't get to see. Alan hearing a bombshell, as relayed by his brother, that completely shocks him and makes him question his entire childhood and life - and then having to be filmed minutes later for the show, and hear yet more shocking history, only this time about his grandfather. It was fascinating, and one of the reasons that I put off writing this review for a week was so that I could watch his episode of the show. I knew the outcome of the show, but knowing what he was going through and dealing with while filming it, and how much he struggled to keep his shit together during that time, it was really kind of heartbreaking. Of course the information relayed to him in the show was sad, though it did have a positive impact and brought awareness to an important issue, but knowing that many of the times when he's filmed looking pensive and introspective that he's likely thinking about much more recent and potentially life-changing revelations, just made it that much more sad to watch. My heart went out to the guy, because you could tell that he just needed a little time to process everything - but the hits just kept coming at him non-stop. This is pretty dark material, but it is quite uplifting at the same time. It's a story of overcoming abuse and adversity, of surviving one's abuser, of finding and learning to love oneself. And I have to admit, it warmed the dark recesses of my cold, bitter heart whenever he mentioned his husband, Grant. You could just feel the love that they have between them, and I couldn't help but feel thankful that he found the person that makes him happy, that he can rely on, and trust, and who supports and loves him in return. And speaking of which, I adore Alan's relationship with his brother Tom. These brothers are everything that siblings are supposed to be, and I was once again thankful that Alan had Tom in his life. I honestly think that without Tom acting as his buffer, his protector, and friend, that Alan likely would not have survived to be who he is. My one criticism would be that I think that Alan let his mother off too lightly in her responsibility. He loves and adores his mother, that is clear, and he thanks her for being the kind and accepting counter to her husband's controlling, hypercritical tyrant, but she failed in her responsibility to protect her children. Perhaps she was a buffer, and deflected some of it, but she knew how miserable they all had to be, how terrified of him they were, and she even endured that herself. Yet she did not leave her husband until after both of her kids had moved out on their own. I know it was a different time back then, but I think she bears a bit of the responsibility as well. She didn't do enough, in my opinion, to protect her sons from their abusive father. Anyway, this was a great book, and I highly recommend it even if you're not familiar with Alan Cumming. It's well worth the read (or listen).

  • TL
    2019-04-30 16:42

    Re-read via audio book (finally got my hands on it):)Side note: First timeI saw/heard of Alan Cumming was as Nightcrawler in X2.. I've seen him in things on and off over time but never followed him like I did withc certain bands/authors but he's been on my radar.----Just as compelling and heaetwrenching, and at times heartwarming as the first time around.. even more so with Alan narrating itself. His voice is so beautiful and soothing/calming.Not to overuse the word but still amazed he put this whole story out for the world to see and judge...very brave of him on all fronts.Go check it out now:):!Original review: I don't know what to say... this was in turn a funny/heartwarming/deeply moving and suspenseful read. Many times (and still now) I just wanted to give Alan a big hug and tell him I'm proud of him for how he came through this and is leading a good life.He's a strong person and a good man... if one day I get the privilege to meet him, I will tell him that :).Highly recommend, words cannot do this enough justice *gives Alan a hug*pre-read:Coming from paperbackswap:)!!

  • Tracy
    2019-04-23 11:11

    I love Alan Cumming, so I was really looking forward to this. However, I'm generally suspicious of celebrity biographies, so I approached it with cautious optimism. By the end of the book, I just loved him more. Not so much a biography but a memoir focusing on Cumming's reaction to being told that his father was not, in fact, his father. An appearance on the UK's Who Do You Think You Are was meant to reveal the mystery behind what happened to Cumming's grandfather on his mother's side. Instead, an admission by his father leads Cumming to resolve long-held memories of verbal abuse. Cumming is extremely open, revealing genuine thoughts and feelings that allow the reader to share in his pain, and ultimately, his strengthened relationships with his mother and brother.

  • Melanie
    2019-04-26 15:58

    I really enjoyed this memoir which I listened to via Overdrive. Alan Cumming does not tell the story of his stardom but rather of his hard upbringing with a physically and mentally abusive father, bullying at school and the search for answers regarding his missing maternal grandfather. Luckily he has a wonderful and supportive family including his mother (Mary Darling - you have to love the name), brother, grandmother and husband, etc. I loved listening to his Scottish accent! He seems to be a very down-to-earth person. Someone I would love to hang out with and drink a bloody Mary (you need to read and/or listen

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2019-05-07 14:56

    Picked this up on a whim when I was skimming the new books at the library, and read it in an evening. Half the memoir is the same story told on Alan's episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, about his maternal grandfather, a man who was a bit of a family mystery, never returning to England after World War II despite having a wife and children.The other half is about his abusive childhood with a violent father, and how that has effected him today. He also talks about how he has worked on it - therapy, confrontation, release. I can't decide if I don't recommend or highly recommend this for people who grew up in similar situations, but definitely were the parts I felt more connected to than the military darling.On dealing with an abusive parent as an adult:"Since I had gone off and begun to live my own life, my father had ceased to be a physical threat to me; he even became quite civil. This change in him allowed me to pack away much of my past in a box that I never wanted to open. For ten years I kept it closed, pretending that my family was no more difficult or trying than anybody else's. I didn't begin to forgive my father - far from it."On the way families tend to ignore the angry elephant:"We never discussed what we were going through, how it was affecting us. When my dad was absent... [we might] indirectly empathize about our plight, but we never actually addressed what was really going on: that we were living with a tyrant, someone who, I believe now, was mentally ill. As our silence grew, so did our denial."Alan Cumming talks about how keeping this all in led to a mental breakdown of his own, one that mirrored one his grandfather had, the other character in the book. So it nicely ties together and it does seem like he ended the book more whole than he started. That is always nice to see. I think it was a book he needed to write for himself even if for nobody else. May it bring him strength and closure.

  • Nicholas
    2019-04-27 12:55

    This was pretty disappointing. Cumming clearly had a lousy childhood and I found him at his most articulate and interesting talking about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father, but the rest of it just made me dislike him. It seems bizarre to criticize a memoir for being too self-involved, but that's definitely what this felt like. There was a focus on minute details here that felt self-absorbed, like we were supposed to care about what happened at what time, and which episode preceded which at which precise moment only because it was Alan Cumming, not because it was actually interesting or he had taken the time to make it so through his writing. It may be just the way he wrote about his life, but I got the unfortunate impression that pretty much everything revolves around him, that during parties at any of the three Cumming residences, one just sits around and listens to him tell stories about himself. It was unpleasant. I've always been a fan of his acting (especially on The Good Wife, the best television show currently on the air; I said it), but this book did not endear him to me. Instead it felt self-indulgent. I understand that memoirs are self-indulgent pretty much by definition but the best ones manage to make you forget that.

  • Kathleen
    2019-05-12 09:46

    I listened to the audiobook NOT MY FATHER'S SON: A Family Memoir written and read by Alan Cumming. Alan Cumming's father Alex was a man who held his family hostage, who meted out violence with a frightening ease. Alex was the dark, enigmatic heart of Cumming family life. But he was not the only mystery. Alan's maternal grandfather, Tommy Darling, had disappeared to the Far East after the Second World War. Curious to explore this mystery, Alan committed to filming an episode of the BBC's 'WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?'Then out of the blue, his father called. He had a secret to share. 'What a shattering, compelling and extraordinary story Alan Cumming has to tell. And he does so with such style and grace' - Stephen Fry'This 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

  • Michelle
    2019-04-30 16:57

    When you Google Alan Cumming the search leads to such descriptors as:“Scottish actor” “singer/ performer” and headlines “I act, I snap, I conquer” and “I’ll drink to that – Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs” What you don’t expect to find when you crack open Not My Father’s Son is such sheer and utter honesty. Imagine the courage it took to not only face emotional and physical abuse at the hands of his father but to expose himself to the masses in this way. To say the least, this is not at all what you would expect from a typical celebrity memoir. Spurred by the filming of Who Do You Think You Are?, a documentary series that explores celebrity genealogy, Alan finds himself delving into the past. On one hand he is curious to know what happened to his maternal grandfather who died under mysterious circumstances while serving in the military. On the other, he surprised, shocked and taken aback but his father’s revelations before filming. One of the main points that Not My Father’s Son addresses is the hold that the past has on all of us regardless of whether that past is known or its secrets lie buried. The cost of those secrets and the shame that they bear affect not only the person who carries them but all of those around them. “The two parts of this story now seem so clearly connected, mirroring each other perfectly. I had lost a father but found a grandfather. One of them had never sought the truth and lived a life based on a lie; the other’s truth was hidden from us because society deemed it unsuitable. Both caused strife, and sadness. But now, both combined to reinforce for me what I knew to be the only truth: there is never shame in being open and honest.”

  • Chrissie
    2019-05-01 17:46

    I went into this book without preconceived expectations. I have never seen the actor / author on TV or stage. My sole contact with him is having heard his narration of A.J. Hartley's Macbeth. Both the narration and the retelling of Shakespeare’s story were very good.. In Not My Father's Son the author reads his own book and tells about events in his own life. I knew only that he was gay and that he had been physically abused by his father.We are given a view into a dysfunctional family. However the person telling us of the events is involved in them too. For this reason the book cannot give its readers a balanced, impartial view of family dynamics. This is the first problem I have with the book. When I hear about a family that is a mess, I want to fix it. I will instinctively support those who are not being heard, simply because they are not heard. Not being able to do anything about the problem frustrates me. Alan Cumming and his mother and his brother have for years been physically and mentally abused by the father. It is horrible to observe. I vehemently dislike the father but one has to go beyond this to resolve the problem. You can fix nothing by hearing only one side of a conflict. This book is a recapping of Cumming’s appearance on the TV program Who Do You Think You Are?. The telling flips between chapters about the show of 2010 and events in his childhood which demonstrate his father’s cruelty. It is the TV show that dictates the flow of the book. If you are a person who enjoys looking at such a show, yeah, then you will probably like this book too! I am not a fan of these programs. That presented is meant to draw tears. We are manipulated. We are supposed to feel sorry for the guy. We are supposed to laugh on cue. Presentation is sentimentalized. It is not constructive. The close tie to the TV presentation is another reason for my dislike of this book.The author complains about his dislike of media coverage. Sure, that is a legitimate complaint, but he should have realized that in choosing a career as an actor he would have to deal with this. I could have done without his griping. The book’s humor fell flat. If this guy is a comedian, I didn’t see it here. I listened to the audiobook narrated by the author. Being an actor, it is not in the least surprising that he dramatizes as he reads the lines. I didn’t like this; it reinforces his partiality.People seem to love feeling sorry for the guy and for this reason love the book. There is absolutely nothing special about the writing and issues that should have been discussed are merely skimmed over.

  • Andrew
    2019-05-12 11:44

    Not only not his father's son, and not only a really interesting and appealing actor, but Alan Cumming is an openly bisexual celebrity. Not too many openly bisexual men in the world of fame it seems, unless I've missed something. But I have to be honest: I picked up this audiobook because the price was appealing and I like the guy's acting. Coming across it like I did was a happy accident because I really enjoyed it. What a treat that Mr. Cumming read the book himself, and that he's darn good at it, and that he has a real-live Scottish accent. I'm being shallow, aren't I? Maybe it's a bit of a breather for me, as the subject matter herein is pretty heavy. Cumming's father - well, not his father, dammit - was extreme in his physical and emotional abuse of Alan and his brother, Tom, and there were scenes described I found difficult to get through. These scenes gave me an inner rage. I wanted to log into Facebook and write diatribes about child abuse. But I didn't do that. Ultimately the way Cumming reaches his resolution with this is so satisfying (I'm not giving any details, so don't ask, and I'm not going to explain the book's title either) and uplifting that I needn't jump to his defense. The dude's got this, and doesn't need me to do it for him. This is a memoir built around a nice set of parallel themes: the one regarding his father and the one regarding his exploration of his mysterious grandfather. This isn't "just" an autobiography; it has a shape. I was cheering him on all the way through. I felt my chest tighten as the book neared its ending, because it was like saying goodbye. Though with me the stories of WWII military heroics created an eye-glazing reaction, I snapped out of it, Cumming's enthusiasm becoming irresistible. I suspect it might be a hard read (or listen) for those who have experienced abuse themselves and find themselves easily re-traumatized. But that's not for me to say. Some may find this book to be cathartic. I did not encounter abuse such as this myself, but I felt like I was there. Now I feel like I spent a good bit of time with a really friendly and interesting guy, and the films of his that I haven't seen, well, I'm going to have to address that.

  • Sh3lly ☽ Guardian of Beautiful Squids and Lonely Moons ☽
    2019-05-11 11:54

    1 DEC 2016 - $1.99 on Kindle!

  • Siv30
    2019-05-18 13:00

    לא צפיתי בסרטים וסדרות שבהן שיחק אלן קאמינג, אבל אני מבינה שהוא שחקן מוכשר ופורח. הספר הביוגרפי שפירסם, מוכיח שהוא גם כותב מוכשר ויודע לספר סיפור טוב, גם אם מדובר בסיפור חיו וחיי משפחתו הקרובה.הספר מתרכז בשני קווי עלילה: הקו העיקרי מבחינתי הוא סיפור מערכת יחסיו עם אביו, שמעולם לא הצליח ליצור קשר רגשי ראוי עם בנו הצעיר: אלן קאמינג. זה לא שאביו הצליח ליצור מערכות יחסים תקינות עם יתר בני המשפחה. הוא גם לא הצליח ליצור מערכות יחסים תקינות גם עם אימו של קאמינג או עם אחיו הבכור טום, אבל על אלן ההשפעה היתה הרסנית כמעט: לאורך הסיפור מתאר קאמינג את עריצותו של אביו כלפי משפחתו מהמעגל הראשון וכלפיו. ההתעמרויות וההתעללויות של אביו בו ובבני משפחתו (אחיו הבכור ואימו). התעללויות פיזיות ורגשיות שהשפילו אותו ללא רחם. אביו חוזר ואומר לו שהוא "כלום" והוא חי בסביבה שכל רגע הספינה עמדה להיטרף והמכות עמדו לנחות עליו כגשם ביום סערה.בגיל 45 אביו מודיע לו חגיגית שהוא לא בנו. לטענת אביו, אימו של קאמינג בגדה בו וזה גם התירוץ שלו לעובדה שבמשך שנים ניהל רומאנים עם נשים מתחת לאפם של בני המשפחה תוך שהם מודעים לנשים השונות בחיו של אביו.באותה העת, קאמינג נמצא במהלך הסרטת סידרה תיעודית "מי אתה חושב שאתה?" שעוסקת בגילויים על סבו, טומי דארלינג, שנהרג בתאונת ירי עצמי במלאזיה בשנת 1951, נכנס לסיחרור ריגשי כשהוא מנסה במקביל לעכל את הגילויים על מות סבו ולהתמודד במקביל עם הגילויים של אביו. ההתמודדות עם אביו חולה הסרטן, שעימו לא דיבר במשך 15 שנים (מאז התעמת איתו על אירועי העבר וחשף בפניו את התמוטטות העצבים שעבר) מובילים את קאמינג במשעול הזיכרונות אל ילדותו ואל החיים בצל הפחד המתמיד מפני ההתפרצות הבאה.במקביל לתיאור מערכת היחסים של קאמינג עם אביו הברוטלי והפסיכופת, מתוארת מערכת יחסיו עם אימו, מרי דארלינג, אישה עדינה וטובת לב שניסתה בכוחותיה להגן על בנה מפני זעמו המשתולל של האב. חיזקה אותו רגשית ועזרה לו לעבור את הסופות הנוראיות. היא עוזבת את אביו של קאמינג כשאלן עוזב את הבית בגיל 19. לא יכלתי להאשים אותה שלא עזבה את אביו המתעלל לפני.הספר שכתב אלן קאמינג, "Not my father's son", נוגע בעצב החשוף של יחסי הורים וילדים ובתוצאות שמהם סובלים הקורבנות לאורך שנים.בכתיבה צלולה וכואבת, מכה אלן קאמינג בבטן הרכה של הקורא כשהוא מתאר את מערכת יחסיו עם אביו ההרסני, שאין לי אלא להניח שהיה מופרע נפשית ולא טופל כשהתעלל כך בילדיו ובאימו של קאמינג.ספר מטלטל, שגרם לי להזיל דמעות בחלקים שונים שלו.

  • Ghost of the Library
    2019-05-11 14:02

    That which does not kill you makes you stronger....but you will always carry those ghosts with you, no matter how soon or how late you make peace with your past, and acknowledge you are not to be blamed for what happened.Although i am not one to normally read books written by actors and actresses, this one caught my eye at the library and, given how much i like Allan Cummings work (...and accent),...i knew i would give it a try.My goodness, nothing could have prepared for the emotional roller coaster that is this book, and the number of personal memories awoken by reading it. Part memoir, part self empowerment manifesto, NOT MY FATHER'S SON is Allan's tale of how much his past determined who is today - both as a person and an actor - and how, finally, he made piece with that book of his life and moved on to the next.Invited to participate in the TV show Who Do You Think You Are, in order to unveil a family mistery regarding his maternal grandfather, Allan ends up opening the box of his past and, along our own travel with him towards the truth about his ancestor, we are treated to glimpses of his past and his frankly horrible example of a father who for years abused (not in the sexual sense of the word) him, his brother and his mother.I wont go into many details because it would very much spoil the experience that reading this book can be, but i will say this much - Allan is a remarkable man, and if i already liked him, now frankly i love the man! To have endured all that and yet keep moving forward to fulfill his goal, through trial and error, establishing not only a loving relationship but also a very successful career, is worthy of respect and admiration.Truly an eye opener in many ways, i couldn't possible recommend this one more, might be an intensely personal journey for you dear reader, but its one every one should have once in their life.Happy Readings!

  • Jaya Christopher
    2019-05-12 11:50

    I loved this. What a well-written and very unique memoir. Alan Cumming's story of estrangement from his father is multi-layered and so rife with his own, individual voice that I was completely engrossed in his story. He approached a lifetime of paternal-induced anguish with courage and honesty. I felt for the little boy who was so confused by his abusive and violent father and I felt even more for the man who had achieved all of the trappings of success but suffered from the effects of a horrific childhood.There were many moments of humor and descriptions of the discovery of the beauty of life, the historical facts of discovering the full history of his grandfather's life, intimate moments in his familial relationships and the interspersement of how his life has unfolded even around the incredible characters he has played. Anyone who enjoys Alan Cumming on the stage will enjoy finding out about the life behind the performances. I think that the man Alan has become is due to this story that he's lived and, for that, I am grateful. This is a great read for the both the LGBTQ crowd and the mainstream masses.

  • Caroline
    2019-05-21 16:46

    So much of this book was based on Cumming's experiences in taking part in the British television genealogy programme "Who Do You Think You Are", that I just ended up getting frustrated. I saw the programme. I knew all the surprises and his reactions to them already. I did not need it dissected piecemeal throughout the book.It was saddening to read about his traumatic childhood - of course it was. And I am delighted that this lovely actor has managed to rise above such a tough start in life. But his continual cliff-hanging references to the genealogy programme drove me bonkers.I stopped at page 162.--------------------------------------------------------------Who Do You Think You Are? Episode about Alan Cumming... (not recommended if you plan to read the book!)

  • MLE
    2019-05-03 14:59

    A powerful story not only about the author, but about his family, and their painful history. The author is a survivor, and has suffered, but this book didn't feel like a celebration of misery or a means of revenge. Honest, and relatable and very readable memoir.

  • MarnieKrüger
    2019-05-04 17:54

    This is one of the saddest Memoirs I've ever listen to.For Alan Cumming to be so open and truthful about the happenings in his life is awe-shockingly beautiful."Finally, the scariest thing about abuse of any shape or form, is, in my opinion, not the abuse itself, but that if it continues it can begin to feel commonplace and eventually acceptable"

  • Amy
    2019-04-28 11:04

    This story is absurdly beautiful. It's captivating, heart-rending, and hopeful. I devoured the book whole like I would some fantasy novel I've been waiting months to get my hands on. Alan is a storyteller I would listen to by a fire, sipping coffee, snuggled up with a loved one.I so admire Alan Cumming. For having the bravery to confront his father and the honesty to tell his story. For relating sometimes brutal truths with tenderness and grace. For forgiving and letting others witness it. For embracing life with passion and the people in his life with kindness...even those who don't deserve it. For being cheeky and a heap of fun. For his joy. There are a lot of important things to take away from this autobiography about abuse, mental health, healing from traumatic events, and honesty within families. But for me, who was lucky enough to grow up in a house without abuse, where I was supported and encouraged and loved, I most appreciated just how important those things are for those of us who receive them. I really believe the loving relationship Alan had with his mother, brother, and granny, then later with his husband Grant, saved him. They helped him accept that there was something wrong within his father, not within himself. Our love and openness with the people we care about allow them to thrive the way they're meant to. After reading this, I plan to be more aware of this in my life. I want to be Mary Darling, Granny, Tom, and Grant to my family and friends. I want to brighten their lives and give them hope. I want to be the porter in Alan's Malaysian hotel room who says, "You will have a beautiful day....No need to hope it, many happy things will happen to you." Because strangely, that's how I feel after spending time listening to Alan Cumming tell his story. Hopeful and expectant. You should read it. Or listen to it as I did. That lilting voice of his perfectly and effortlessly conveys his fear, anxiety, compassion, wonder, and sense of humor.