Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Big Book Read #7
American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson
Fans of The Late Late Show will know that recently Scottish-born host Craig Ferguson became an American citizen; a moment he says was many years in the making. American on Purpose is a memoir of Ferguson’s life leading up to his naturalization. I couldn’t put this book down. It’s a funny, brutally honest memoir.
Ferguson writes about his childhood growing up in Glasgow, Scotland; a city he describes as both beautiful and hard. The stories from his childhood are both amusing and painfully awkward; stories which I know most readers can identify with in some way. He also describes the night that, as a teenager, he got drunk for the first time, resulting in him waking up with a black eye and a very angry mother. This story also foreshadows a good portion of the rest of the book.
Alcohol played a big part of Ferguson’s life from his late teens until he was nearly thirty. As the grip of chronic alcoholism took hold of his life he drifted from one job to another and one girl to another. He very funnily and painfully describes how his life unraveled and how he was helpless to stop it. Ultimately, alcohol cost him friends, two marriages and his sanity.
I’m surprised Ferguson was able to remember so many events from his life while drinking so much. Despite his alcoholism he managed to develop a respected stand-up career and grab small acting jobs in television and film though he is very quick to give his supportive friends the credit for most of these opportunities.
The last part of the book follows Ferguson as he comes back to the US to look for work and fulfill his dream of living in the States. It’s the story of how he cleaned up and made something of himself, but not without failing a million times before. He wanted his own “American dream”; to find success through hard work and determination in the only place in the world where he knew that was possible. And as we all know, that dream came true.