Thursday, August 25, 2016

Book Review: Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself

Author: Alan Alda

Author's web page:

Date: 2007

Publisher: Random House

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6617-9

Length: 209 pages

Quote: “Once the show became successful, invitations started coming in asking me to pronounce a few words to live by.”

So, here are the words to live by that Alan Alda, a.k.a. “Hawkeye Pierce,” chose to leave to posterity. Samples:

“Here’s my Golden Rule for a tarnished age: Be fair with others; then keep after them until they’re fair with you.”

“[Y]our life will have meaning when you can give meaning to it.”

“Even when you’rein charge of something, don’t be afraid not to know exactly what you’re doing.”

“Freud said, ‘Health is the ability to work and to love.’ Add a third: Be able to play.”

“I don’t think I’m a teacher. But I do like to infect people with enthusiasm.”

That Alda has done; “M.A.S.H.” may well have infected TV watchers with more enthusiasm than any other family-friendly sitcom in the history of television. This, however, is not his memoir. (Never Have Your Dog Stuffed was the memoir.) The structure of Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself is a long, rambling manuscript for a speech, or speeches, to which Alda adds anecdotes and further exposition.

Need I say more? If you’re a serious fan of Alan Alda, you’ve already read this book. If you’re a not-so-serious fan, you want it. If you don’t remember Alan Alda and the sort of thing he was likely to say, you need to read this book for historical understanding, and because you’re the age of his intended audience. If you don’t like Alan Alda, you’re probably reacting to the inherent silliness of a sitcom about a military base during a war, which is reasonable, and you need to read his book in order to separate your impression of the man from your impression of the show. I did; I’m not saying the book contains the wisdom of Moses, which it doesn’t, but it’s about as good as anything that comes out of Hollywood.

To buy a gently used copy here, send $5 per book + $5 per package to either of the addresses at the very bottom of the screen, from which we'll send $1 to Alda or the charity of his choice. At least three more books the same size should fit into the package for the same $5.