by Alan Cumming
“Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir” is an unbelievable autobiography. Alan Cumming is the author of this book. It is a beautiful book sad, funny, haunting, surprising, suspenseful, gut-wrenching, endearing book. His memoir is every bit as wonderful as he is. It is innocent and still too wise. It is sad and lovely. Heartbreaking violence towards a child is slipped in next to celebrity memories. His wondering about where he could come from is written with longing and the same enthusiasm with which he distances himself from the father he knows is part of his past. But even as we explore the answers to his mysteries we see what Alan does not. He is his fathers’ son in the absolute negative.
Where his father looks over a small child to find fault, Cumming writes about his father with grace. Perhaps, he posits, there were good and happy times with his father that he and his brother were just too traumatized to remember. Where his father rages, Cummings is gentle and wry. Alan looks deeply and he sees. Cummings is a lovely writer. Each vignette hands the reader one small part of him. It is up to the reader to put them together. Along the way we are treated to thoughts on what Shakespeare would be doing if he were alive today, the Eurovision Song Contest, and the story of his blue sweater vest. His father relentless cruelty never diminishes but Alan grows far beyond it.