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Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself

Cover of Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself

Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself

by Alan Alda
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READ BY THE AUTHOR!

On the heels of his acclaimed memoir, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, beloved actor and bestselling author Alan Alda has written THINGS I OVERHEARD WHILE TALKING TO MYSELF, an insightful and funny look at some of the 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?) Picking up where his bestselling memoir left off – having been saved by emergency surgery after nearly dying on a mountaintop in Chile – Alda finds himself not only glad to be alive but searching for a way to squeeze the most juice out of his new life. Looking for a sense of meaning that would make this extra time count, he listens in on things he's heard himself saying in private and in public 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 unique and hilarious meditations on questions great and small. THINGS I OVERHEARD WHILE TALKING TO MYSELF is another superb Alan Alda performance, as inspiring and entertaining as the man himself.

READ BY THE AUTHOR!

On the heels of his acclaimed memoir, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, beloved actor and bestselling author Alan Alda has written THINGS I OVERHEARD WHILE TALKING TO MYSELF, an insightful and funny look at some of the 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?) Picking up where his bestselling memoir left off – having been saved by emergency surgery after nearly dying on a mountaintop in Chile – Alda finds himself not only glad to be alive but searching for a way to squeeze the most juice out of his new life. Looking for a sense of meaning that would make this extra time count, he listens in on things he's heard himself saying in private and in public 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 unique and hilarious meditations on questions great and small. THINGS I OVERHEARD WHILE TALKING TO MYSELF is another superb Alan Alda performance, as inspiring and entertaining as the man himself.

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    Chapter 1

    Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself

    I was so glad not to have died that day that I made it my new birthday.

    A few hours earlier, I was on top of a mountain outside a small town in Chile when I doubled up in pain from an intestinal obstruction. This is a pain more intense than childbirth, as I was told later by a woman who had enjoyed both. While they carted me down the mountain, the pain was impressive enough to make me feel perfectly okay with dying. I would have been happy to die; but as it turned out, this wouldn't be necessary. In a cramped, dingy emergency room, I was examined by a doctor who, by chance, was an expert in exactly my problem. I was lucky, because about a yard of my intestine was dead, and within a couple of hours I would be, too. He opened me up in an emergency surgery that saved my life. I woke up from the operation euphoric. I hugged the doctor and embraced his wife and children, grateful to his whole family for the extra chance at life he had given me. I told everyone that Chile was my new homeland, and I celebrated my new life every chance I got.

    But as time passed, a persistent thought kept piercing my euphoria: What should this new life be like? This was time I was getting for free, 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 urgency of a kid's. We must have that dish of pasta, the food appetite would say. But this is the third dish of pasta in the same meal, I'd tell it, secretly delighted by its roguish concupiscence. Yes, a third dish, the appetite would say, and we must have it. Now. Contented as I was, I still wanted to squeeze more juice out of my new life. This was the playful search of

    a happy appetite, and I realized how lucky I was to be craving more.

    I've known people who didn't even know they wanted more, because they felt they simply had nothing. Every once in a while, I think of a moment long ago in a coffee shop in Times Square when the person sitting across from me mentioned he was thinking of killing himself.

    He said it casually as he put down his coffee cup. He was a young black man, only recently out of college. I was twenty-five, and he was about twenty-two. We had met a few days earlier at a gathering of idealistic young people hoping to end nuclear testing. We had been talking about how completely dim the prospects were of our group having any success in slowing the arms race. Then our conversation turned somehow from the destruction of cities in a nuclear firestorm to the subject of his own life. That's when he put down his cup and said, with the air of someone announcing he was considering going off cream for skim milk, "I've been thinking that I might kill myself."

    I was stunned. "You can't do that."

    He looked surprised. "Why not?"

    "You don't have the right to kill yourself."

    "Of course I do. It's my life. I can do what I want with it."

    "No, you can't. You can't do that to the people around you. You can't leave them with grief and a dead body. You don't have the right to do that to anyone."

    He thought about that for a moment. "Yes, I do. It's my body."

    "Look. You're smart, you're educated. You have a life ahead of you. A career." I didn't even...

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine As a follow-up to his bestseller, NEVER HAVE YOUR DOG STUFFED, Alan Alda has scored a perfect "10." This very funny and hugely insightful memoir picks up where his previous book left off--with his having emergency surgery after nearly dying on a mountaintop in Chile--and introduces new stories of life, love, and the meaning of it all. This audio presentation is excellent in every way. Alda's voice is so familiar that he's easy to listen to. There's no doubt his purpose is to share the wisdom he has acquired in his long and productive life, a life that is far from over. His straightforward style helps makes this audio presentation meaningful, heartwarming, and just plain funny. M.R.E. 2008 Grammy Nominee (c) AudioFile 2008, Portland, Maine
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