Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself

Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself

Alan Alda

Language: English

Pages: 252

ISBN: 0812977521

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Picking up where his bestselling memoir Never Have Your Dog Stuffed left off–having been saved by emergency surgery after nearly dying on a mountaintop in Chile–beloved actor and acclaimed author Alan Alda offers an insightful and funny look at some impossible questions he’s asked himself over the years: What do I value? What, exactly, is the good life? (And what does that even mean?) Here, Alda listens in on things he’s heard himself saying at critical points in his life–from the turbulence of the sixties, to his first Broadway show, to the birth of his children, to the ache of September 11, and beyond. Reflecting on the transitions in his life and in all our lives, he notices that “doorways are where the truth is told,” and wonders if there’s one thing–art, activism, family, money, fame–that could lead to a “life of meaning.” In a book that is candid, wise, and as questioning as it is incisive, Alda amuses and moves us with his uniquely hilarious meditations on questions great and small.

Praise for Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself

“Engagingly thoughtful and thought-provoking . . . [Alan Alda] candidly shares many stories of his life, so easily and wittily you can hear him speak as you read.”
Sydney Sun Herald

“Alda is chatty, easygoing and humble, rather like a Mr. Rogers for grownups. His words of inspiration would be a perfect gift for a college grad or for anyone facing major life changes.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Smart, engaged, funny and observant.”
San Antonio Express-News

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When this happens, there doesn’t seem to be any part of my brain that isn’t working on something. The clock stops, and an intricate pas de deux takes place in slow motion. You choke with emotion, yet you feel nothing. You know everything and nothing at once. You walk a narrow beam a hundred stories high, but your steps are as sure as on a sidewalk. Failure can’t happen. Death is remote. There is no way to know what you’ll say next; and then you say it. And you notice that you’re saying it

and it seemed to call for freshness. Not that I was unhappy. During the year I turned sixty-nine, there could hardly have been more good news coming my way. In January, I was nominated for an Oscar; in April, for a Tony; in September, for an Emmy; and in October, the first book I’d written made the bestseller lists. All this in one year. Even my seventieth birthday came and went without a feeling of dread. I was still a kid. I still enjoyed working hard, and my appetites still called to me with

the book. “Is it this one?” There was a long pause. “No. It’s the book right next to it.” I took that as a major victory and never repeated the experiment. Feynman may have been my hero, but I didn’t yet possess his heroic desire to prove myself wrong. I kept reading everything I could about him, and one day I came across a book that revealed his character so charmingly, I got excited about the idea of playing him on the stage. You may hope to be realistic as a person, but when you’re an

my grandmother’s in the emergency room? And, at the same time, they may be thinking, Maybe this is the person who can save my life. All this has the same false hope, wariness, and anxiety as when a lot of the public makes a glancing, brief encounter with science. Blind dates have a history of occasionally turning into disasters, and so do our anxious dates with science. In 1991 in Texas, they started digging a tunnel that would be twelve feet wide and run in a circle fifty-four miles long. They

you really feel about all this. You should write one more talk. But a special one.” “Like what?” “If you were asked to give a commencement talk on your deathbed, what would you say?” Arnold Steinhardt is a great violinist who is also a shockingly good writer. He can draw sense out of the simplest words the way he can draw music out of catgut and horsehair. So I paid attention. What would I tell the kids if I were writing a commencement talk on my deathbed? Would it bring me closer to the heart

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