Not My Father's Son

Not My Father's Son : A Family Memoir

4.01 (25,451 ratings by Goodreads)
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'One of the most memorable, heart-stopping autobiographies I have ever read' STEPHEN FRY


A beloved star of stage and screen, Alan Cumming's life and career have been shaped by a complex and dark family past - full of troubled memories, kept buried away. But then an unexpected phone call from his long-estranged father brought the pain of the past hurtling back into the present, and unravelled everything he thought he knew about himself. Not My Father's Son is the story of his journey of discovery, both a memoir of his childhood in Scotland, and an investigation into his family history which would change him forever.

'Equal parts memoir, whodunnit and manual for living . . . beautifully written, honest . . . I was completely sucked in' NEIL GAIMAN
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Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 18mm | 205g
  • Canongate Books Ltd
  • Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • integrated b&w illustrations throughout
  • 1782115463
  • 9781782115465
  • 8,511

About Alan Cumming

Alan Cumming is an award-winning actor, singer, writer, producer and director. He recently starred in an acclaimed one-man staging of Macbeth on Broadway, and appears on the Emmy Award-winning television show The Good Wife. He won a Tony Award for his portrayal of the Emcee in the Broadway musical Cabaret, a role he has reprised in 2014. He hosts PBS Masterpiece Mystery and has appeared in numerous films, including Spy Kids, Titus, X2: X-Men United, The Anniversary Party, Any Day Now and Eyes Wide Shut. He is also the author of a novel, Tommy's Tale. Not My Father's Son was a New York Times bestseller, won the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2015 and has been named Attitude magazine's Book of the Year.

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Review quote

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 What a shattering, compelling and extraordinary story Alan Cumming has to tell. And he does so with such style and grace . . . Beautifully and cunningly structured, Not My Father's Son is one of the most memorable, heart-stopping autobiographies I have ever read -- STEPHEN FRY Do you know the old line "I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me"? Alan Cumming's moving memoir Not My Father's Son is all that and more. 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 * * author of New York Times bestsellers MISSING YOU and SIX YEARS * * In beautiful, honest, arresting prose, he offers a tale you'll never forget. A real diamond of a book. -- ANDREW O'HAGAN Incredibly affecting -- DAMIAN BARR, Books of the Year * * Herald * * A poignant chronicle of damage sustained in youth and his recovery -- MARIELLA FROSTRUP * * Observer * * Powerful . . . the result is both heart-breaking and brave . . . A thoroughly gripping read, one that keeps its biggest revelation until the very end * * Sunday Times * * Moving * * Observer * * You'll like him a lot . . . Compelling * * Evening Standard * * A clear-eyed, often moving account of both his terrifying childhood and his recent attempts to come to terms with his past [. . .] Not My Father's Son moves elegantly and with an occasional dash of humour between Cumming's childhood and the revelations of the more recent past [. . .] memorable * * Chicago Tribune * * One of the most fun people in show business * * Time * * Cumming's eccentric style and assured voice shine brightly on every page, while escorting readers and fans on a memorable journey that is simultaneously insightful, brave, moving, and witty * * Book List * * Not My Father's Son shows Cumming to be a particularly skilled storyteller. His personal story is spun out in a thrillingly mysterious way . . . in this deeply touching memoir, Cumming has certainly marked himself out as one of our bravest and most perceptive writers, and an unexpected literary talent * * The List * * Powerful and shocking . . . That he can write isn't a surprise . . . He delves into his own history and leaves no stone unturned, no dark corner unprodded . . . What Cumming knows better than most is that you can never tell from the surface what's going on beneath * * Scotland on Sunday * * An open and honest memoir with some extraordinary twists * * Easyjet Traveller * * Powerful * * Big Issue * * Compelling . . . a frank, twisting book . . . a page-turner * * Metro * * A brave and thoughtful book * * Spectator * * Cumming's bravery is breathtaking . . . this is a brave book, airing fundamental agonies of the human condition with as light a touch as is possibly possible * * Sunday Express * * Best of all, [Not My Father's Son's] emotional intelligence is high * * Glasgow Sunday Herald * * Cumming is a good writer and keeps us guessing . . . the book grips like a neo-noir thriller . . . He knits together the various strands of his life with remarkable assurance. The occasional flashes of lightness in the dark, the few, very few, happy times with his father glow like embers, only to be extinguished by the overwhelming memory of the dark beast that kept him in a constant state of terror . . . What might have been a misery memoir is anything but. The bracing honesty and humour plus the fact that there is not a scintilla of self-pity makes this a tremendously encouraging book * * Daily Express * * This year's best memoir * * The List * * A haunting family history woven with empathy for his soldier grandfather but without a trace of self-pity about his abusive father * * Independent on Sunday, Best Memoirs of 2014 * * A brilliantly vivid and heartrending account of Cumming's early life, interspersed with some well-observed, comic and intriguing scenes from his more recent past * * Sunday Business Post * * A great read * * Connaught Telegraph * * Cumming's unsurprising gift for drama never overwhelms the realities of the damage done, nor his joyous determination to crush bad memories by living a good life * * Guardian * * With a completely captivating style, Cumming cleverly interfaces events from his past with the present * * Broadway World * * Gripping, well-composed and moving, this memoir is impossible to put down and remains with you well beyond the last page * * Pride Life * * This is such a great book: a memoir written with style and depth * * Sunday Business Post * * I very seldom cry but Alan Cumming's Not My Father's Son took me pretty close . . . Reads with the intensity of great fiction even though it's true -- IAN RANKIN * * Mail on Sunday * * Alan's powerful story is one which stays with the reader long after the final page has been read * * Attitude * *
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Rating details

25,451 ratings
4.01 out of 5 stars
5 33% (8,408)
4 42% (10,806)
3 19% (4,794)
2 4% (997)
1 2% (446)
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