I've been on a bit of a reading binge again. First up, Alan Cummings autobiography, Not My Father's Son. This was an interesting read and for anyone who doesn't know him, he played the role of Eli, in The Good Wife which is how I came to know him. Alan's father was a bit of a psycho and he suffered badly from his bullying and abuse. But in spite of all that, he got out and did very well for himself. I won't say anything more about it, I don't like to give too much away but a good read and I would definitely recommend it.
On a similar theme, I was in the library 2 weeks ago and saw Operation Lighthouse by Luke and Ryan Hart. I had heard them on the radio, the day before, talking about their lives and the book they had written. Coincidentally, it was on the recommended display in the library when I went in to return the Alan Cummings autobiography so, I thought, I would give it a go.
Luke and Ryan's father was also an abusive bully, controlling and manipulative. He was never physically violent until he was completely murderous, and he shot and killed their mother and sister and then shot himself. Their reason for writing the book was to show that while a relationship may not always be violent, it can still be abusive through the use of coercive control. Their father wanted to control every aspect of the lives of his family and did so through his bullying and demanding behaviour. They were also appalled at the sympathy shown to their father by the media after he murdered their mother and sister and how little sympathy was directed towards his victims. I would highly recommend this, if for no other reason, than to open our eyes and minds to the quiet acceptance of abuse in society and the tendency towards victim blaming in the media.
Another, in the real lives genre, was Gavin Edward's biography of River Phoenix, Last Night at the Viper Room. This tells the story of River Phoenix's life, from birth until his death, at aged 23. Best known, in my house at least, for his role in Stand by Me, the Rob Reiner directed film, from the short story by Stephen King, The Body. A favourite of my son's when they were growing up and one I still watch fairly regularly.
River's parents were a couple of hippies who became part of the Children of God cult in the US and who travelled around and lived for several years in South America, preaching and recruiting on their behalf. The leader of the Children of God cult, David Berg, advocated sexual relationships between children, and between children and adults. River's parents parted company with them when they started prostituting women to attract more recruits but there is evidence in the book of River being introduced to sex at a very young age.
There is no doubt his death was a tragic loss. He was quite heavily into drugs and although, he had been clean for a couple of months while shooting what turned out to be his last film, the moment he got back to LA, he was straight back to the drugs. How much of his drug use was a result of his upbringing, we can only guess at but the lack of education and involvement with the Children of God, I'm sure, played a part.
I never knew that he was interested in music but it turned out that he was more interested in making music than movies, and there are some videos of him with his band, Aleka's Attic, on Youtube, if anyone is interested. Sadly, the talent he had, never got to play out into maturity, like so many before him. That's the thing about drugs, it only end one of two ways, you either stop or die. But an excellent read and highly recommended as it also contains snippets about many of the other actors who came to prominence in the 1990's, like Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and Leonardo Di Caprio.