Baggage: Tales from a Fully Packed Life (Paperback)
"An intimate look at the making of a man, an actor, an advocate—and most importantly—a happy human being. A wonderful book that is funny, honest, fearless, and generous in its vulnerability." —Douglas Stuart, Booker Prize-winning author of Shuggie Bain
There is absolutely no logical reason why I am here. The life trajectory my nationality and class and circumstances portended for me was not even remotely close to the one I now navigate. But logic is a science and living is an art.
The release I felt in writing my first memoir, Not My Father’s Son, was matched only by how my speaking out empowered so many to engage with their own trauma. I was reminded of the power of my words and the absolute duty of authenticity.
No one ever fully recovers from their past. There is no cure for it. You just learn to manage and prioritize it. I believe the second you feel you have triumphed or overcome something – an abuse, an injury to the body or the mind, an addiction, a character flaw, a habit, a person – you have merely decided to stop being vigilant and embraced denial as your modus operandi. And that is what this book is about, and for: to remind you not to buy in to the Hollywood ending.
Ironically maybe, much of Baggage chronicles my life in Hollywood and how, since I recovered from a nervous breakdown at 28, work has repeatedly whisked me away from personal calamities to sets and stages around the world. It is also about marriage(s): starting with the break-up of my first (to a woman) and ending with the ascension to my second (to a man) with many kissed toads in between! But in everything, each failed relationship or encounter with a legend (Liza! X Men! Gore Vidal! Kubrick! Spice Girls!), in every bad decision or moment of sensual joy I have endeavored to show what I have learned and how I’ve become who I am today: a happy, flawed, vulnerable, fearless middle-aged man, with a lot of baggage.
Alan Cumming’s many awards for his stage and screen work include the Tony, Olivier, BAFTA, and Emmy. He is the author of two children’s books, a book of photographs and stories, a novel and the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir Not My Father's Son. He is a podcaster (Alan Cumming’s Shelves) and an amateur barman (NYC’s Club Cumming). Find out more at alancumming.com, @alancumming on Twitter, and @alancummingsnaps on Instagram.
“With winning resilience and buoyancy, Cumming revisits a stretch of his young adult life book-ended by two marriages: one straight, one gay…the 56-year-old Cumming remains the irresistible ‘cheeky chappie’ who has survived horrific trauma to become a beloved show-business institution, and perhaps unlikely fount of wisdom.” — New York Times
“Alan Cumming’s Baggage has the right perspective on life—and so will you after reading it…To wit, Baggage is the most delightful after-dinner aperitif—something worth savoring.” — USA Today
"An intimate look at the making of a man, an actor, an advocate—and most importantly—a happy human being. Cumming is a natural raconteur, and this feels like a private conversation between the author and the reader. A wonderful book that is funny, honest, fearless, and generous in its vulnerability." — Douglas Stuart, Booker Prize-winning author of Shuggie Bain
"It seems fundamentally unfair that Alan Cumming is, in addition to being a fine actor and a wicked performer, such a hell of a good writer. But he is. He's observant, honest, often trenchantly funny, always emotionally honest. He's an international treasure. — Neil Gaiman
"I could not love this man… or this book more. Alan writes with such unvarnished truth and a humor that can only come from a brilliant mind, rapier wit and resilience from emotionally painful life experiences. This book—like Alan is off the page—is full of insight, compassion, intellect and wisdom. This is the best Baggage to have." — Monica Lewinsky
"Everything that makes Alan Cumming so engaging as a person and a performer—his cleverness, kindness, charm, wildness and, above all, authenticity—shines from every page of this wonderful, witty and wise book." — Nigella Lawson
“Revealing and witty…Engaging and often funny, this surprisingly deep work beguiles with its sharp observations and earnest life lessons.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Thoughtful, candid revelations join with intimate confessions while Cumming’s witty repartee never falters. Regardless of his traumatic past, the memoir lifts the veil on a happier man who has ‘transcended and bloomed.’ With heartfelt anecdotes and an honest perspective, Cumming shares the struggles and joys of a fulfilling life while making peace with the baggage of a troubled past. Cathartic and revelatory, Cumming’s memoir will fascinate fans and those who relate to his internal struggle.” — Kirkus Reviews