It was Thursday night and almost time for our favorite TV show, MASH. Kids had to be put to bed, dinner dishes washed, and laundry done and folded. Then the theme song played, and we settled down for the most entertaining hour of the week. I loved all the characters, but it was Hawkeye who completely stole my heart. I loved his playful, sometimes biting, sarcasm mixed with compassion for his patients. No wonder the nurses swooned whenever he walked across the compound. But did they know that Alan Alda, the man who played that iconic character, was not only a talented actor but also an author, playwright,, director, and philosopher? I certainly didn’t, that is, until I read “Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself.” Throughout this fascinating autobiographical work, I learned how Alan Alda became who he is. His stories of growing up in show business, essays about life’s lessons, and speeches he has delivered to high school and college graduates are a treat to read, especially for those of us who use talking books or Commercial Audio, because the narrator was none other than Alda himself. His sincere delivery and witty commentary made me wish that I could be in his circle of friends. Laughter is vitally important too him, so I’m guessing he’s fun to be around. In one of the chapters about his experience with MASH, he reminisces about the hours his cast members spent waiting for their turn for the cameras. Instead of sitting in their dressing rooms alone, studying their scripts, they sat on chairs in a circle, not just rehearsing, but telling jokes and laughing at each other’s stories. Their sense of family was carried right along with them as they stepped into their parts in the scene. Also important to him is love, as he talks a lot about his devotion to his wife Arlene, who is a well-known author as well.
I had the privilege of being in the audience when they both were on the Chautauqua stage, two years ago, when the theme for that week was writing. I chose that week to attend The Chautauqua Institution in New York, because at that time, I had been working on my own book, a memoir about moving my reluctant mother into assisted living. I wanted to learn from the experts. . Imagine my delight when I knew I was in the presence of this prolific artist. He sat in a rocking chair on stage, along with his wife, and their host Roger Rosenblatt, and we, the audience, had the pure delight of eves-dropping on their witty and pithy conversation. At the time, I knew Alan Alda only as Hawkeye, but since I’ve read three of his books, I know now that he is so much more.
The other two books I thoroughly enjoyed were “Never Have Your Dog Stuffed” and “If I Understood what You Said, Would I Have This Confused Look On My Face?” The titles alone make you think of Hawkeye, don’t they? “Never Have Your Dog Stuffed is not narrated by Alda, but it’s well worth reading anyway. The other two give you the bonus of hearing the voice of Hawkeye. Even if you are too young to have seen Alda in action on stage, in movies, or on a TV screen, you will find all his works entertaining and inspiring.
If you are a talking book subscriber, you can find all three of these books on BARD. Here is the complete title and DB number of my favorite.
Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself DB 64972
And BTW, I did finish my book, “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living a Daughter’s Memoir, and you can find it on Amazon or