Book Beginnings and Friday 56 – Never Have Your Dog Stuffed (March 23)
It’s almost been a couple of months since I did one of these Friday posts, so my determination to post more often isn’t really working, I guess! The book I’ve chosen for this week is Alan Alda’s memoir Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I’ve Learned. I’ve had this book unread on my shelf for far too long, so it’s probably about time I read it. Added to this, we are big fans of M*A*S*H and have all 11 seasons on DVD, which we have just started watching again, but this time with our son for the first time. He, surprisingly, seems to be really enjoying it. One night recently we were watching the episode where Alan Alda’s dad was a guest star and I remembered having this book, so I thought it would be a good one to read as I don’t really know much about either Alan Alda or his father. I’m about half-way through at this point and finding it both entertaining and informative.
Goodreads has the following description:
He’s one of America’s most recognizable and acclaimed actors–a star on Broadway, an Oscar nominee for The Aviator, and the only person to ever win Emmys for acting, writing, and directing, during his eleven years on M*A*S*H. Now Alan Alda has written a memoir as elegant, funny, and affecting as his greatest performances.
“My mother didn’t try to stab my father until I was six,” begins Alda’s irresistible story. The son of a popular actor and a loving but mentally ill mother, he spent his early childhood backstage in the erotic and comic world of burlesque and went on, after early struggles, to achieve extraordinary success in his profession.
Yet Never Have Your Dog Stuffedis not a memoir of show-business ups and downs. It is a moving and funny story of a boy growing into a man who then realizes he has only just begun to grow.
It is the story of turning points in Alda’s life, events that would make him what he is–if only he could survive them.
From the moment as a boy when his dead dog is returned from the taxidermist’s shop with a hideous expression on his face, and he learns that death can’t be undone, to the decades-long effort to find compassion for the mother he lived with but never knew, to his acceptance of his father, both personally and professionally, Alda learns the hard way that change, uncertainty, and transformation are what life is made of, and true happiness is found in embracing them.
Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, filled with curiosity about nature, good humor, and honesty, is the crowning achievement of an actor, author, and director, but surprisingly, it is the story of a life more filled with turbulence and laughter than any Alda has ever played on the stage or screen.
Now for this week’s excerpts:
Book Beginnings is hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader, who invites anyone to join in, saying: ‘Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author. Leave a link to your post. If you don’t have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.’
The beginning of Never Have Your Dog Stuffed:
My mother didn’t try to stab my father until I was six, but she must have shown signs of oddness before that. Her detached gaze, the secret smile. Something.
This may seem at first read to be a funny beginning, but the reality is that it’s not, although I guess it is Alda trying to make light of things. Saying any more would just be spoilers, so I won’t!
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.
It’s that simple.
From page 56 of Never Have Your Dog Stuffed:
I really scared her one day while she was out of town for a couple of weeks with my father. I wrote them a long, rambling, adolescent letter in which I talked about my obsession with books.
Coincidentally, Alda is talking here about his mother again. However, there is a lot more to this book than stories about his mother, thankfully. The unusual title of the book also makes sense when he describes something early on in the book that happened to him when he was a child. Anyway, I’m really enjoying this one and will probably get it finished this weekend.