Anyone who reads my book reviews has probably noticed a dearth of non-fiction. I don’t read much of it. I generally read for escapism and reading something real isn’t escape. There are exceptions to this rule.
Alan Alda is a fun actor. I’ve known of him pretty much my entire life – mostly from M.A.S.H. I don’t know when or why I picked up his memoir, but I needed something different to read recently and so I started it. It was very interesting.
I had no idea he was a child of vaudeville although it makes perfect sense to his acting style. I will admit, I had to struggle some to separate “actor” from “character” (Hawkeye) and stop trying to pigeon-hole the actor into the character. As I did, I feel like I got a better glimpse of the creative process of the creative artist behind the character.
I never would have guessed some of his struggles, emotional or professional. He has always (in interviews and things I’ve seen) appeared so confident. Granted, I probably wasn’t aware of him as a human/non-character until he was at least 60. Writer, Director, Successful Actor for several decades. I would hope he shows some confidence at least on camera.
The book is largely linear, but not perfectly. There are times he goes into a topic and recalls back to his childhood an anecdote he hasn’t previously shared. I think the only time I found it disconcerting was when one of these came while I was at a doctor’s office and when I returned to the book I didn’t remember the topic/reason for the departure from his adult life. I had to go back some pages, remind myself, and return to my reading spot. That isn’t his fault.
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how to review a memoir. I enjoyed it, but I have no idea what to tell someone else to encourage them to read it. It doesn’t provide context or history to something else (like Review: Three Cups of Tea did). If you aren’t an Alda fan, would you care? I don’t think there is a massive lesson in the book (don’t cheat on your spouse or perseverance will always win).
I enjoyed it. If you like Alan Alda’s work in Hollywood, I think you might too. That’s the best I’ve got. Hopefully, this will help me read more non-fiction and get better at these reviews.