RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

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

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed
"Memory is a kind of mental taxidermy-trying to hold onto the present after it's become the past," is Alan Alda's observation that inspired the title of this beguiling, humorous autobiography. To say that he grew up in a dysfunctional family is a gross understatement. The only son of an acclaimed actor father and a schizophrenic mother, Alda's childhood included Vaudeville comics and strippers, boarding school bullies, violent outbursts by his mother and frequent moving. Despite influences which might have scarred him, he grew into a responsible, happy, and successful actor, writer, political activist, humanitarian, husband, and father. His unconventional early education culminated in a degree from Fordham University, military service, a long, loving marriage and a traditional family with three happy daughters.

Alda's humility is remarkable in light of the success he's achieved and the recognition he's been given. His example of laughing at his mistakes and finding humor in what others might view as tragedy is what keeps this book entertaining. Each of his experiences becomes a lesson from which he learns something about himself or his world. Rather than seeming preachy, though, his attitude motivates the listener to adopt a similar response to everyday occurrences. His honest descriptions of his mother's episodes of madness and his continued fear of his own genetic susceptibility humanize him. He becomes not the privileged, elitist TV and Hollywood star, but a warm, witty, hardworking man who would probably make a good friend.

This audio book is a perfect road trip book for the solo traveler or for a group of commuters, friends, or family members. Alda's humorous observations about life will trigger conversation among a car full of riders and introspection and reflection by a single driver. As I listened to him recount his life's adventures, it seemed as if Hawkeye Pierce were riding beside me, telling jokes and making droll comments about the absurdities of life. I highly recommend this audio book and think it would make an ideal gift for anyone with access to a CD player and a sense of humor.

Ruth Mormon

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