Cover image for Not my father's son : a memoir
Not my father's son : a memoir
Cumming, Alan, 1965-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Dey Street, an imprint of William Morrow Publishers, [2014]
Physical Description:
294 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
In his unique and engaging voice, the acclaimed actor of stage and screen shares the emotional story of his complicated relationship with his father and the deeply buried family secrets that shaped his life and career.
Then and now -- Cancel, continue -- Moving on -- Postcript.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library PN2287.C692 A3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
Clarence Library PN2287.C692 A3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Clearfield Library PN2287.C692 A3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
Crane Branch Library PN2287.C692 A3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
East Aurora Library PN2287.C692 A3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Eggertsville-Snyder Library PN2287.C692 A3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
Grand Island Library PN2287.C692 A3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
Kenmore Library PN2287.C692 A3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
Orchard Park Library PN2287.C692 A3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Julia Boyer Reinstein Library PN2287.C692 A3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography

On Order



Dark, painful memories can be like a cage. Or, in the case of Alan Cumming, they can be packed away in a box, stuck in the attic to be forgotten. Until one day the box explodes and all the memories flood back in horrible detail. Alan Cumming grew up in the grip of a man who held his family hostage, someone who meted out violence with a frightening ease, who waged a silent war with himself that sometimes spilled over onto everyone around him. That man was Alex Cumming, Alan's father.

When television producers approached Alan to appear on a popular celebrity genealogy show in 2010, he enthusiastically agreed. He hoped to solve a mystery that had long cast a shadow over his family. His maternal grandfather, Tommy Darling, had disappeared into the Far East after WWII. Alan's mother knew very little about him--he had been a courier, carrying information between battalions on his motorbike. The last time she saw her father, Alan's mother was eight years old. When she was thirteen, the family was informed that he had died by his own hand, an accidental shooting.

But this was not the only mystery laid before Alan's feet. His father, whom Alan had not seen or spoken to for more than a decade, reconnected just before filming for Who Do You Think You Are? began. He had a secret he had to share, one that would shock his son to his very core and set into motion a journey that would change Alan's life forever.

With ribald humor, wit, and incredible insight, Alan seamlessly moves back and forth in time, integrating stories from his childhood in Scotland and his experiences today as the celebrated actor of film, television, and stage. At times suspenseful, at times deeply moving, but always incredibly brave and honest, Not My Father's Son is a powerful story of embracing the best aspects of the past and triumphantly pushing the darkness aside.

Author Notes

Alan Cumming (born on January 27, 1965) is a Scottish-born American actor. He graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. Cumming's first film in the United States was 1997's Romy and Michele's High School Reunion. He has starred in many films including Spy Kids and the Spice Girls Movie. Cumming plays the role of Eli Gould on the CBS popular show, The Good Wife. He has been nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and Satellite Award for his performance. He has also done award-winning work in the theatre. In 2014, he reprised his role as the Emcee in the Roundabout Theater's production of Cabaret, for which he originally won a Tony Award for Best Actor In a Musical in 1998.

On November 7, 2008, Cumming became a dual-national and was sworn in as a citizen of the United States of America at a ceremony in New York City.

In October 2014 Alan's book, Not My Father's Son: A Memoir, made The New York Times bestseller list.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The Tony Award-winning, Scottish-born actor and openly gay bon vivant is not your typical Hollywood memoirist, having previously penned both fiction (2002's Tommy's Tale: A Novel of Sex, Confusion, and Happy Endings) and nonfiction (2013's May the Foreskin Be with You: Why Circumcision Makes No Sense and What You Can Do about It). With his third book, Cumming eschews the empty calories of celebrity fluff to share the deeply personal but ultimately life-affirming truth of his harrowing childhood and fascinating family history. Chapters focus on three distinct time periods: (1) recalling his dark past as a victim of unspeakable physical and emotional abuse at the hands of his troubled father; (2) detailing his current success, resilience, and capacity for forgiveness; and (3) delving into the mysteries surrounding the heroic life of his maternal grandfather, as profiled in 2010 on a popular British celebrity genealogy series (Who Do You Think You Are?). 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.--Keech, Chris Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Scottish actor Cumming struggles to reconcile with his troubled past in this moving, if oddly structured, memoir. Alternating between three time periods-"Then," "Now," and a span of several months in 2010-Cumming recounts his life on a rural Scottish estate under the brutal reign of his abusive father, Alex. Equally violent toward Cumming's older brother, Tom, Alex was a defining force in Cumming's life, with the emotional and physical scars of his beatings affecting Cumming long after he left home for drama school at age 17. In a parallel narrative, Cumming recounts his experiences as a participant on Britain's Who Do You Think You Are?, a television program on which celebrities explore their pasts, often going so far as to get genetic tests. Even as issues closer to home involving Cumming's ties, or lack thereof, to his father arise (as the book's title might suggest), Cumming is determined to delve into his family history: and find out what happened to his maternal grandfather, Lieutenant Tommy Darling, who served his country in WWII and ended up suspiciously dead several years later in Malaysia, where he was as a member of the police force. While the particulars Cumming learns about Darling are striking and memorable, this really is a case where the journey is more important than the destination. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Describing growing up the youngest of two in rural Scotland under an abusive father, multiaward-winning actor Cumming (The Good Wife; Cabaret) blends powerfully disturbing childhood trauma with his contemporary search for ancestral clarity as he recounts an enigmatic maternal grandfather named Tommy Darling, a well-respected Scottish servicemen whose disappearance, and demise, had always been a family mystery. Lifelong curiosity leads Cumming on an illuminating path from Scotland to Malaysia as a participant on the renowned television series Who Do You Think You Are? The episodic nature of the text provides the perfect framework for Cumming's discoveries about his grandfather, which include prestigious awards and stunning acts of valor. Drama continues to unfold when his father reveals an explosive secret that turns the entire family on its head. Cumming's dry wit transitions effortlessly to the page, eliciting laughter one moment and gut-wrenching discomfort the next-anecdotes praising the Eurovision Song Contest sit easily alongside dark recollections of being subjected to his father's inexplicable rages. VERDICT While the "then and now" structure, which features frequent chronological shifts, might seem choppy, the memoir sculpts an insightful, relentless examination of Cumming's hardships, alongside keen observations about the continuing effect of abuse on his life. A moving read that fans of the man and of memoirs won't want to put down. [See Prepub Alert, 4/21/14.]-Ashleigh Williams, School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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