Let me start out by saying that I usually have a harder time focusing on essay books, which may or may not be attributed to some mild attention problems. However, I loved every moment of Alan Cumming’s essays in You Gotta Get Bigger Dreams.
Essays interwoven with a collection of personal photos, You Gotta Get Bigger Dreams serves as a cross-country journal, dialoguing heartbreak, discovery, and of course, showcases the dazzling wit of Alan Cumming. His tidbit on Liza Minnelli, dubbed “Sweet Liza” is warm and personal. He truly is a man who does it all.
For those unfamiliar with Alan Cumming, I would say this is a good introduction: introspective, outgoing and witty, Cumming narrates his fast-paced life in a beautifully inclusive way.
Cumming has always seemed, to me, a star in a far-off galaxy, whether crooning in Cabaret, being beautiful in Burlesque (which was a terrible film, and not his fault), or fighting against bisexual stigma (bisexuality is not a myth), he seemed unreal in comparison to the people I deal with in day-to-day life. Cumming has played dozen of roles in TV, film, and on Broadway, and is currently performing a tour of Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs as well as playing Eli Gould on The Good Wife. With this series of essays, he is rendered human, albeit much more beautiful than a vast majority of us.
Particularly wonderful is his running commentary in the first half of the work regarding various topics Americana. Hailing from Scotland, he gives us tongue-in-cheek responses to some of the things he witnesses while traveling; they seem part of the mundane grey of day-to-day life for us, but for Cumming, even the mundane has its own sparkle.
From the essay “Travels with Honey”:
“Denny’s restaurants' Wi-fi cost a whopping fifteen cents a minute, but the very fact they had it at all I saw as a mark of progress. That, and a religious, right-wing talk show host getting annoyed that he might be misconstrued as being anti-gay. God Bless America! Talking of blessings, later that day I found the perfect US combo: a KFC-Taco Bell drive-through!”
267 pages seems short in the way the stories are told, which leads me to hope there will be more glimpses into Alan Cumming's life in the future. Much like his work in Cabaret, he exposes himself in the best way possible. Camera and dogs at his side, he shows us a different view of America and himself, both present and past, then in a flash, is gone.