Now, I’m probably biased because I went into this already loving Craig Ferguson from watching him on The Late Late Show, but he did in his book everything that a book like this should do. He was funny, sincere, and his honesty is that of the ‘warts and all’ persuasion. In fact, showing those warts is the whole point of the book, which he opens by stating, concerning his son, “He will know from an early age that failure is not disgrace. It’s just a pitch that you missed, and you’d better get ready for the next one.” This isn’t just some book of unconnected stories by a famous name, contracted by a publisher to piggyback some moola off of their cultural cachet (although I have read and enjoyed books of that type before, notably Tina Fey’s and Amy Poehler’s). This is a book with a purpose–it says it right there in the title. And that automatically lends it something I always feel is missing from those other types of memoirs, an authentication borne from the need to tell a story.
The book is told (mostly) in chronological order, detailing from his birth in Scotland to poor, working-class parents, to his dropping out from high school, dedicating himself to being a rockstar and taking as many drugs as possible, finding his way into comedy (by way of punk rock and Peter Capaldi), through finally realizing his (literal) life-long dream of moving to America, and actually becoming American. And of course, the most affecting bits in all that had to do with his struggle with alcoholism, which he says “broke my heart and the hearts of too many others”, and with the relationship to all the women in his life. He writes most eloquently when he’s speaking about the ways loving these women (and being loved by them) changed his life.
And that’s the other thing about Craig Ferguson’s book, is that besides being funny and moving (and FUNNY), it’s also well-written. Truly. I didn’t know before reading this, but he’s actually written film scripts and even a novel (all of which he talks about in the book). The stories he was telling would have been interesting no matter what, but they became something special in the way that he told them. His prose was nothing fancy and was certainly irreverent, but it was unmistakably his. The man has style. If you’re going to write a book about yourself, write a book about yourself! And he does.
There’s too much in the book that I loved for me to mention all of it. Probably the best thing I can say at this point is that I was very happy when I could be in my car and listening to this, and when it was over, I wished it wasn’t. (P.S. Get the audiobook if you can–it’s fantastic. He reads it himself. Worth the price of admission just to hear him say ‘farty’.) When he ties everything all together at the end, he does get a bit sentimental, but it’s an earned sentimentality, and if there’s anyone who disagrees with the way he sees our country, I don’t want to know about it.
“America truly is the best idea for a country that anyone has ever come up with so far. Not only because we value democracy and the rights of the individual, but because we are always our own most effective voice of dissent….We must never mistake disagreement between Americans on political or moral issues to be an indication of their level of patriotism. If you don’t like what I say or don’t agree with where I stand on certain issues, then good. I’m glad we’re in America, and don’t have to oppress each other over it. We’re not just a nation, we’re not an ethnicity. We are a dream of justice that people have had for a thousand years.”
And now I shall leave you with one of my favorite Craigy Ferg moments. If you aren’t just so happy after watching that clip, I don’t even want to know, because knowing you are dead inside will just harsh my buzz.
(Also, I miss Secretariat.)