Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review for You - American on Purpose

American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot by Craig Ferguson
5 stars
Many of us know Craig Ferguson as the delightfully irreverent comedian that hosts the Late Late Show on CBS. He makes us, well at least me, laugh out loud with his hilarious monologues and also makes us think with his highly inquisitive and thoughtful dialogues with his guests. So it was not so surprising that his memoir elicited much of the same response.

Craig was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland by a family with three other children, Craig being the second youngest. He describes his childhood in much the way one would expect back in those times. His family was pretty poor and school was tough. But his parents worked hard because, as Craig explains, to them work = love, so that was how they showed one another that they cared. Even though it seemed there wasn’t too much openness in his family (talking about things like feelings or sex was unheard of, of course) it was obvious that they cared about each other a lot.

While Craig’s elder siblings went on to further their education, he struggled with school and dropped out at an early age. He mentions his love of books and learning, just not in a school-type of environment. This is obviously evident when one watches him now on his Late Late Show because he is extremely bright. But unfortunately dropping out of school and going right away into the working world hard the predictable ramifications. Craig recalls his first experience with alcohol where he got so drunk that he literally remembers nothing until waking up on his mother’s couch realizing he had urinated and vomited on himself. He vowed never to drink again but of course that didn’t last.

His drinking and drug use spiraled out of control, though he admits the alcohol was the main problem. He takes the reader through his trials and tribulations. His troubled marriages and his road to recovery and all the way through his stunning turn around and rise to stardom. It really is a remarkable success story.

Craig Ferguson’s memoir could have ended up being just another run-of-the-mill addiction story but it was so much more. He has this incredible wit that he really helps the reader tune into the story. I found myself laughing out loud constantly. And you would think with all the horribly depressing things an addict would write about that it couldn’t be that funny, but Craig has a way of making it funny and incredibly awful at the same time. A hard line to walk. It was also very deep and moving. Ever since Craig was a little boy his dream was to live in America and it was something that he actively pursued. It was weird to have a Scottish immigrant (who is now an actual American citizen, something he talks about in the book) describe to me so accurately what the American dream is about. I rarely have my American patriotism in full swing (not that I’m not patriotic, but you know what I mean) but he really did it for me. I was definitely not expecting that.

By the end of the book I found myself crying with tears of sadness, laughter and joy. Then I had to go online and look for clips from his show. I would recommend this book to anyone (though beware he does like to use a bit of foul language). Best memoir I have read in a very very long time!


Stephanie M. Hasty said...

This book sounds lovely, definitely picking it up! I love Creeg Fergeeson as well...

You have to watch this "Late, Late Show" interview with James McAvoy, it's my favorite:

Stephanie M. Hasty said...

oh and i forgot...the best part: "the scottish vaccum of charm"

llevinso said...

No I have not seen that interview. I'll have to watch it when I get home from work. Unfortunately his show is on too late for me so I always have to youtube his clips.