I am one of many people in the world who grew up watching M*A*S*H at the dinner table every evening. Part of that experience has generated a love for Alan Alda and everything that he has done throughout his career. Although I had read his other biography (Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself), which came out after this particular book, I wanted to learn more about Alda.
The book is an easy read and traverses through Alan Alda’s life starting as a boy who suffered from polio and moving through his career which revolved around theatre, television and movies There are a number of lessons he provides as part of his life he has lived and the book certainly has its humorous aspects. The book doesn’t spend too much time on areas he is most known for (e.g. M*A*S*H). I didn’t find this as good as the other book but worth reading if you’re an Alan Alda fan.
Three key takeaways from the book:
1. Alda was a name his father had constructed by taking the first two letters of Alphonso (his own true first name) and the first two letters of D’Abruzzo.
2. At age 9 he knew he wanted to be an actor. It never ceases to amaze me the successful people in this world knew what they wanted to do at an early age.
3. A lesson about listening from Alan Alda … “The difference between listening and pretending to listen, I discovered, is enormous. One is fluid, the other is rigid. One is alive, the other is stuffed. Eventually, I found a radical way of thinking about listening. Real listening is a willingness to let the other person change you. When I’m willing to let them change me, something happens between us that’s more interesting than a pair of dueling monologues. Like so much of what I learned in the theater, this turned out to be how life works, too.”