Friday, September 1, 2017

NOT MY FATHER’S SON …a memoir by Alan Cumming


Christine Dixon, my Harriet Tubman actress, is appearing on a TV series in New York, “Instinct,” with Alan Cumming as the star. Having seen his work in Cabaret on Broadway, and being an admirer, I was interested to find he had written a memoir, “Not My Father’s Son.” 
Alan in Cabaret

Turns out his father had claimed that, due to his mother’s extra marital affair, Alan was not his child. In this book, the search for answers makes for an emotional detective story as a young man wonders, if not him, then who is my father? 
Tony Murphy
Coincidentally, my younger brother, Tony, was 6 months old when my father ran off with another woman. My father’s affair had been going on for more than a year and apparently he told his paramour he was not having sexual relations with his wife. Therefore, my mother was a bad woman and Tony was not my father’s child. 

In “Not My Father’s Son” there are 2 mysteries that parallel each other. Alan is being filmed for a documentary TV series, “Who Do You Think You Are?” in a search for the truth behind his maternal grandfather’s tragic death. Over a period of months the film crew take him from England to France to Singapore, unmasking the story of a WW2 hero who never came home and died mysteriously in a foreign land. 

For 10 years, my brother lived with a loving elderly couple until my mother brought us all to America. In fact, he never met my father until he was 38 years old. By then Tony Murphy was famous in the motorcycle world, winning the US Speed Racing title when he was only 21 and holding it for 3 more years. 

The walls in his large ranch house in Antelope Valley are covered with photos from his championship days, along with the medallion from Trailblazers Hall of Fame

Alan's parents

While Alan is reeling from the facts he learns about his grandfather, a man he never met, he is drawn into a greater drama. Is it possible that the brutality he experienced from his father was punishment for being the result of a betrayal by his beloved mother. Where does the truth lie? The parallels are mind-boggling. 
My parents
Was my mother unfaithful to my father, which gave him reason to abandon her and seek happiness elsewhere? After the woman died, my father came to America to visit us and, when he returned to England, amazed everyone by proudly showing photos of “my son in America!” It takes a leap of faith to know your own son, or does it?

Today there is DNA, and a parent can no longer disown their own child. Alan, in the book, goes the distance and takes the leap to DNA testing, a journey that my brother and I are still considering. As Tony says, “I want to know the truth. If I’m not his son I’ll be quite happy to not have been acknowledged by him.”

Read the book. You will not be able to put it down. When I worked for Dell Publishing there were 2 rules for buying a book: If the phone rang and you had to put it aside, did you immediately return to it? And, if you took it home, did you stay up until 3 a.m. to finish it?
“Not My Father’s Son” is definitely a 3 a.m. book!