Sunday, September 10, 2017

BOOKS: Not Memoirs

Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming (6 h 29 min)
read by the author

The chance to listen to Alan Cumming's wonderful Scottish accent for over six hours is but one delightful part of this audiobook. I am most familiar with Cumming from The Good Wife television show in which he does not have an accent. Or rather, he adopts an American accent.

This dark memoir recounts growing up with his horrible father. Really terrible man who appeared to hate his sons, and especially Alan. How Alan maintained a somewhat positive attitude is amazing, and probably due to his loving mother.

Cumming is asked to be part of the television show that looks into heritage and tracks DNA, hoping to learn about the mysterious death of his grandfather. This involves looking into his past, which brings up all the crap with his father. The history and the show combine to force him to face his past. It's done rather suspensefully, so I won't reveal, but it was a great listen.

Not Yet: A Memoir of Living and Almost Dying by Wayson Choy 208 pages

Wayson Choy is a Chinese-Canadian author, most noted for his novel, The Jade Peony. I read The Jade Peony back when it was a contender for Canada Reads 2010.

This memoir follows his near death experience of a asthma-heart attack. While not married, he is surrounded by close and good friends who rally round to support him. He spends months in the hospital, recovering and gaining strength. The first half of the book was good. Choy is clearly a good writer and it is well done. The Chinese spiritual aspect was interesting.
But by the second half when he fell back to his old ways (hoarding and not planning) and suffered a second attack, I felt somewhat less sympathy. I thought it was a book about learning? The book just seemed to end, or at the least, I didn't feel the arc and ending I expect from any book, even a memoir.