The Dust Jacket: Alan Cumming

Alan Cumming at Barnes and Noble“What page number?” A woman called out from the audience before Alan Cumming commenced his first reading from his memoir, Not My Father’s Son.

“Why?” He teased. “Why can’t you just listen? I’m actually here! Otherwise you could just buy the audiobook!”

Maybe he felt bad, because afterwards, he gave page numbers for all of the selections sampled.

I haven’t gotten to see Alan Cumming in Cabaret yet, but I’ve seen him in movies and television shows through the years. I’ve always thought of him as edgy and transgressive (in a good way), so I was surprised when he referred to himself as a fanciful, playful sort. (Really, Eli?) It turns out that he had [spoiler alert] a rather miserable childhood- hence his latest memoir, a work of personal catharsis- and had to grow up fast, so he worked hard to reclaim his inner child as an adult. It took half the talk, but I could see it eventually. The lightness was just covered by a caustic bluntness that’s often discouraged in America.

On critics and criticism, he learned early from his parents to trust himself. “My mother always told me I was precious, and Alan Cumming at Barnes and Noblemy father always told me I was nothing, and I never believed either of them. I figured I must be something in the middle.”

Ideal date: A round table of drinks. His witty repartee seemed like it would be ready and waiting to rise to the occasion, no matter how many friends were crammed around the table.

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