Friday, September 21, 2007

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I've Learned by Alan Alda

I spotted this book several weeks ago at the used bookstore and it immediately caught my eye. I liked M*A*S*H and I love memoirs so I added it to my cart. In this book, Alda talks about his childhood and traveling with his parents who were in a burlesque troupe and latter, vaudeville acts as he watched his father perform from the stage wings and how significant of an impact this made on him. Alda, while fascinated with anything science, eventually decides to become and actor himself and the book follows his tough career of finding stage roles, scraping by with his family, and generally finding his voice. After filming a prison movie in Utah, he gets a call about doing a pilot in L.A. about a bunch of doctors in Korea. Alda actually considered turning the part down because he would be separated from his wife and kids but his wife encouraged him to go for it. While reading the section about his M*A*S*H experience, you get the sense that Alda finally found his voice. He was able to write and direct many episodes and finally felt as if he "fit in" as the cast was a huge family to him.
Overall, I thought that parts of the book were really great. However, Alda would go off on these tangents of talking way too much about acting methodology, etc. I found myself rolling my eyes quite a few times and generally wanting to skip portions of the book in order to get to the story. I was let down when reading this book because I think I had a different impression in my head of what it was going to be. It's not that I thought it was all going to be about M*A*S*H, it's just that I wish it flowed better and I didn't have to read about every single thought regarding acting methodology that passed through his mind, which I felt I was doing. It drove me crazy and I thankful when I finally read the ending.

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