Canongate is to publish actor Alan Cumming's new memoir, Baggage, Tales from a Fully Packed Life.
The memoir, his second, chronicles the actor’s life in Hollywood and the ways in which work has repeatedly whisked him away from personal calamities to sets and stages around the world. The synopsis explains: "Taking us through the highs and lows of his career, his struggle with mental health, each failed relationship or encounter with a legend (Liza! X Men! Gore Vidal! Kubrick! Spice Girls!), every bad decision or moment of sensual joy, Cumming shows how every experience—good or bad—has shaped who he is today: a happy, flawed, vulnerable, fearless middle-aged man, with a lot of baggage. Startlingly honest, both poignant and joyous, Baggage shines a light on how to embrace the complicated messiness of life."
Cumming’s awards for his stage and screen work include Tony, Olivier, Bafta and Emmy wins. He is the author of two children’s books, a book of photographs and stories, a novel, and his previous memoir Not My Father's Son (Canongate). He is a podcaster with "Alan Cumming’s Shelves" and an amateur barman at New York City’s Club Cumming.
Commenting on the deal, he said: "I’m so happy to be back in the Canongate family with my new book Baggage. This is a memoir I originally wanted to call 'Scenes between Two Marriages', because it follows me from the demise of my first marriage (to a woman) to the beginning of my second (to a man). However, I was advised that bisexual Bergman jokes aren’t trending these days.
"My inspiration to write it was also partly in response to the reaction to my first book with Canongate, Not My Father’s Son, and the idea that I had somehow triumphed over my childhood abuse, or was 'cured'. No one ever fully recovers from their past. There is no cure for it. You just learn to manage and prioritise it. I believe the second you feel you have triumphed or overcome something, you have merely decided to stop being vigilant and embraced denial as your modus operandi.
"So in Baggage I want to encourage readers not to buy into the Hollywood ending, while at the same time telling them about my experiences in Hollywood. I want to show my flaws, my joy, my mistakes, all of my baggage."
Jamie Byng, c.e.o. of Canongate, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, from Luke Janklow at Janklow & Nesbit.
Byng said: "Alan Cumming is many things and his preternatural gifts as a prose stylist and storyteller are on full display again in this seriously entertaining new memoir. Not My Father’s Son proved that old adage, 'Truth is stranger than fiction', as Alan grappled with his complicated relationship with a violent father. By comparison, Baggage feels liberated and it swaggers, and it is impossible not to be sucked along by Alan’s infectious energy, self-deprecating humour and irrepressible joie de vivre. I can’t think of a memoir that has given me so much reading pleasure in years and yet the book is also a wise and highly reflective book that provides much food for thought. I absolutely loved Baggage.”
Canongate will publish alongside Dey Street in the US in October 2021.