Home Book Reviews NOT MY FATHER’S SON



“The thing about boxes full of denial and years of unresolved pain and hurt is that eventually …. they explode.” Readers are now privileged to read of that explosion, as actor, singer and writer, Alan Cumming, tells us of his life to this point. In chapters titled “then” and “now”, really from May 2010 to February 201, we follow his life with a loving mother, a brother some years older, and a violent, unpredictable father. The “then” is full of fear, as his father meted out punishment to both his sons in a truly brutal way, often physically leaving them suffering for some considerable time. They were so afraid of him, and of his impossible demands, that they did nothing to alleviate their situation. Who would believe them? This Pandora’s box was really opened because Alan Cumming was the subject for one of the BBC’s, “Who do you think you are?” His maternal grandfather, Tommy Dowling M.M. was an unknown factor, and he wanted to discover all he could about him, to share with his mother, who, by this time, had left his father. Not that his sadistic father was too concerned about that.

The enthralled reader follows the two strands of this memoir which, at times, reads like a whodunit, with no solution apparent. Until …”the two parts of this story seemed so clearly connected, mirroring each other perfectly. I had lost a father but gained a grandfather.. ….. Both caused strife and sadness … I know to be the only truth: there is no shame in being open and honest.”

In a joyous postscript to the narrative this truth is reinforced yet again.

A memoir to be remembered.




PUBLISHED by CANONGATE for a recommended price of $35

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