Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Book Review -- American on Purpose

Mark gave me Craig Ferguson's American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot for Christmas. (Published September 2009 by Harper Collins -- hardcover -- 288 pages) I'm not usually one for biographies or autobiographies, but I am a fan of his show and this was a fast read.

In American on Purpose, Craig Ferguson delivers a moving and achingly funny memoir of living the American dream as he journeys from the mean streets of Glasgow, Scotland, to the comedic promised land of Hollywood. Along the way he stumbles through several attempts to make his mark—as a punk rock musician, a construction worker, a bouncer, and, tragically, a modern dancer.

To numb the pain of failure, Ferguson found comfort in drugs and alcohol, addictions that eventually led to an aborted suicide attempt. (He forgot to do it when someone offered him a glass of sherry.) But his story has a happy ending: in 1993, the washed-up Ferguson washed up in the United States. Finally sober, Ferguson landed a breakthrough part on the hit sitcom The Drew Carey Show, a success that eventually led to his role as the host of CBS's The Late Late Show. By far Ferguson's greatest triumph was his decision to become a U.S. citizen, a milestone he achieved in early 2008, just before his command performance for the president at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. In American on Purpose, Craig Ferguson talks a red, white, and blue streak about everything our Founding Fathers feared.

A thoroughly engaging memoir! If you like the Late Late Show or have seen any of Ferguson's movies you'll recognize his playful wit, his utter lack of pomposity and willingness to laugh at himself, and his chivalrous streak apparent even in his darkest moments. He doesn't try to hide from his mistakes (captures them in all their rawness) and he shows he has learned and grown from them. A classic American story of a rags to riches immigrant surviving and thriving as a result of the fruits of their labors. And amazingly he was able to do so in the arcane world of show business. I must say I was disappointed to learn that on his road to becoming a citizen, while having fun on his show, all the major cities of the United States made him an honorary citizen but one -- Portland Oregon! (At least I can say I wasn't living there at the time, LOL.)


Maria Zannini said...

I rarely stay up late enough to watch him, but I think he's a hoot. You're the second person I know who's recommended his book. I'm going to look for it the next time I'm out.

Sherri said...

I DVR it, LOL, with four kids there's just no way I can stay up that late and function!