From whom we knew as Hawkeye on M*A*S*H, Alan Alda tells his story, and he is FAR from the character he plays. From his mentally ill mother, actor father, and his personality quirks, this is a good read.
My dad use to watch M*A*S*H when I was a kid but I would usually leave the room or pick up a book to block it out, war stuff scared me and was never my thing. Those little snippets were all I knew about Alan Alda but the title of this one called my name.
This isnt one of those gossipy tell-alls and the book barely touches on Aldas time on M*A*S*H. Its a memoir about his entire life and I found it fascinating and quietly funny. Alda grew up surrounded by performers and parents who were merely children in grown up bodies. His mother was mentally unstable and grew increasingly worse as she aged. His dad was a somewhat famous, handsome actor but he was never paid well so Alda grew up on the edge of broke and remains pretty humble even when he gains his own fame. He marries young and miraculously STAYS married to the same woman throughout all of the ups and downs of his career.
His childhood was very unconventional and learning about it was the best part of the book. He was bounced around from town to town while his father followed work wherever it led them. Because of this Alda developed some ticks that made him the prime target of bullies in the private school where he is later enrolled. He just wanted to make people laugh, thats all he knew, but the other kids thought he was off his nut. He struggled for quite some time trying to make it as an actor, taking on any oddball job he could get to help support his young family. His wife must have been incredibly supportive and Im glad they managed to hold it together. You dont hear these sorts of stories often and Im glad I took the time to listen to this one.
Very enjoyable memoir of the celebrity stripe. Alan Alda is smart and self depreciating in just the right balance while relating the early experiences (having been raised in the wings of a traveling burlesque show) and relationships (with a schitzophrenic mother and movie-star father foremost amongst them) that created him as the man and the actor he is today.
While his time on M*A*S*H is covered, and he sprinkles the narrative with tidbits here and there of how the cast of that show interacted with one another, this is NOT a behind-the-scenes tell-all, a recounting of his adventures on-set, nor a reflection of how the show affected his life during and after. Rather, it is a much more comprehensive look at the journey of his life through the reflection of his own mirror.
First, last and always a performer, this memoir is Alda's most personal performance: at times funny, at other times, achingly self-aware of how unfunny his desperate need to be funny could sometimes be. But at all times, aspiring to the noble effort of telling the story of who he is and how he became that way with as much accuracy as one can possibly achieve in the telling of one's own story.
Easy to read and as entertaining as a lively conversation, this memoir stands out from most of those who'd claim to compete by being revealing in what it says and in how it chooses to say it, as well as in what it fails to say and what it says by stopping just short of saying it.