On the heels of his acclaimed memoir, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, beloved actor and bestselling author Alan Alda has written Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself, an insightful and funny look at some of the impossible questions he’s asked himself over the years: What do I value? What, exactly, is the good life? (And what does that even mean?)
Picking up where his bestselling memoir left off–having been saved by emergency surgery after nearly dying on a mountaintop in Chile–Alda finds himself not only glad to be alive but searching for a way to squeeze the most juice out of his new life. Looking for a sense of meaning that would make this extra time count, he listens in on things he’s heard himself saying in private and in public at critical points in his life–from the turbulence of the sixties, to his first Broadway show, to the birth of his children, to the ache of September 11, and beyond. Reflecting on the transitions in his life and in all our lives, he notices that “doorways are where the truth is told,” and wonders if there’s one thing–art, activism, family, money, fame–that could lead to a “life of meaning.”
I’ve always liked Alan Alda – I grew up watching MASH re-runs on TV, and to this day, it is a comfort show for me. 99.9% of the time, I have already seen the episode, but there is the odd-occasion where one that I don’t remember ever watching pops up. So when I was browsing the shelves at the library one day and came across this audiobook, I jumped on the chance to list. As with the Ellen DeGeneres one, it is narrated by the author, and after listening to it, I don’t know if I could have named anyone better suited to do it.
Each chapter in the book is based around one of the various speeches that he has been invited to give over the years – at college graduations; for various professional societies and the events in his life that have influenced what he talks about and how he came to give the speech. So in and of, itself there is a lot of personal memories. But it also has his known sardonic humor that many of us probably remember from his role as Hawkeye (I mean, who can forget him making gin in his tent…).
The production of the audiobook was good, although, the CD’s when I listened to them, you could tell that they were a bit older and there were a few jumps here and there – but it didn’t distracted me too much. I’m def. going to be checking out Alda’s other memoirs in the future. 3.5 stars.