In his memoir, Not My Father’s Son, Alan Cumming goes down a dark path documenting his painfully difficult childhood. When the producers of the popular celebrity genealogy show, Who Do You Think You Are? approached him to appear on their show, he hoped to solve the mystery of his maternal grandfather’s disappearance. But it turned out that this was not the only mystery that Alan would unravel.
He and his brother Tom had grown up in Scotland suffering horrific abuse at the hands of his father, Alex Cumming. Alan had not seen or spoken to his father for many years before they reconnected, just before filming for Who Do You Think You Are? began. The father had a secret that would shock his son to his very core and set into motion a journey that would change Alan Cumming’s life forever.
Though he identifies as bisexual, the memoir is not about bisexuality, per se. It is a story of a courageous bisexual man facing dark, painful memories. He writes his story with incredible wit, humor and insight. The book moves back and forth in time, with stories from his childhood in Scotland, woven in with his current experiences as a famous actor of film, television, and stage. Incredibly brave and honest, Not My Father’s Son is a powerful story of a man facing his past and plucking out the positives from it.
There are some really disturbing scenes of abuse. Cumming’s father brutalized and belittled Alan while he was growing up with his older brother Tom. He also carried on a series of extra-marital affairs in front of the boys and their mother, Mary Darling. Alan had initially suppressed these memories. But after experiencing a nervous breakdown when he was in his early twenties, the memories came flooding back.
Viewers of the television segment of “Who Do You Think You Are?” will find that the book adds to the story and explains what was going on in the background during the filming. The book deals with the consequences of building a life based on falsehoods and the danger of jumping to conclusions without asking for verification. It is a book about facing inner demons and coming to grips with truth and reality.
**Not My Father’s Son was nominated in the best Bisexual Nonfiction category of the LAMBDA Literary Awards.