Bibliophile | Alan Cumming unpacks his ‘Baggage’ with joyous memoir

Baggage
by Alan Cumming
Canongate

In his first memoir Not My Father’s Son, Alan Cumming wrote about having to deal with his sadistic father’s physical and emotional abuse – “a little boy dealing with a very disturbed and dangerous adult man whose splintered psyche rained down such physical and emotional violence it startled even me as I recounted its horror on the page.”

Known and loved by many for his stage and screen work, Cumming writes that he is thankful for the charmed life he now leads, but he believes that no one fully recovers from their past. “There is no cure for it” and no Hollywood ending, but he has he managed to transcend those early days and “in spite of them, bloom”.

This book is about how he has learned to recognise patterns and find the peace to live with his baggage. Cumming has inspired other people to confront their memories, confront their abusers and reckon with their shame. He has also been thanked by people for living an open life as a queer man in public life, even though he is a bit embarrassed for being admired for simply enjoying his life.

Cumming has won many accolades for his decadent performance in the Broadway show Cabaret and was crowned by the New York Observer as the city’s pansexual symbol of the new millennium in 2000. His shelves contain a BAFTA, an Emmy, a Tony and an Olivier and he was particularly pleased to receive an OBE from the queen for his activism for equal rights for the LGBTI community in the USA.

Acknowledging that although he finds himself in a place of contentment now, there have been a series of disastrous relationships, times when he didn’t know who he really was, many bad decisions and even a mental breakdown. Cumming takes the reader on a journey to show how he has incorporated even the most awful things in his life into the happiness he has in the present. A joyous read.

Lezly Herbert


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