Book Menage: True Crime
The pleasures and sorrows of Alain de Botton.

He's American, all right... he seems to be becoming less funny and less enjoyably weird by the minute.

Ferguson I was totally pumped to see Craig Ferguson's new memoir, American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot, on bookstore shelves.* I love his accent (of course), I enjoyed his movie Saving Grace, I loved his completely weird novel Between the Bridge and the River, and I've always found him a somewhat surreal and enjoyable talk show host (particularly when he's interviewing other Scots).

But this memoir? Yawn. It's not only that it's a fairly typical show business memoir (he was enthralled by the U.S. the first time he visited, as a teenager; he had a tough rise to stardom; he is a recovering alcoholic), it's that there's very little that sparkles in the telling of it. I know. It is churlish of me to expect to be entertained by a man's struggle with the demons of fame desired and fame achieved, not to mention alcoholism.** But he is an entertainer, so I can't feel my expectations were completely unseemly. Here's a fairly typical passage:

"As I dozed on the farty rattly airplane on the way home, I thought about my short conversation with the president.***

We had been talking about Scotland; he had visited for a while when he was younger and expressed a sort of puzzled awe at the amount of drinking that was done there, hinting that he had taken part in a farily major way. We talked a little bit about the dangers of booze. I've been sober for seventeen years and, according to rumor, he himself a little longer than that.

'It's a long way from where I've been to standing here talking to the president,' I told him.

'It's a long way from where I could've ended up to being the president,' he replied.

'Only in America,' he chuckled.

We clinked our glasses of sparkling water.

'Damn straight, Mr. President,' I said.

And I believe it." (p. 7.)

All in all? It hurts me to say it, but give this one a miss.

*I was also pumped to see him wearing a kilt on the cover; I still think he's a cutie and hey, he's got nice legs.

**After all, Russell Brand's My Booky Wook: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs, and Stand-Up, covered much the same territory, and still managed to be entertaining.

***Ferguson hosted the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in 2008; the president to whom he was speaking was George W. Bush.