Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Alec Baldwin Reflects on His Life, Career in Witty Memoir 'Nevertheless'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Alec Baldwin Reflects on His Life, Career in Witty Memoir 'Nevertheless'

Article excerpt

If you happen to like Alec Baldwin, why do you like him? There are plenty of reasons. Baldwin came up with that jolly, fantastic line reading in Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" "Patriot Act! I love it I love it I LOVE it!" and that alone is enough for me.

For many admirers of his work, it starts and ends with Baldwin's uniquely commanding, medium-grade-sandpaper voice, conveying a hint of authoritarian bastard. Certainly he has played his share of such intimidating men. And on "30 Rock," where Baldwin soared for seven seasons as Tina Fey's exquisite foil, the network kingpin Jack Donaghy, he reminded everybody how funny he was. As Donaghy, he killed, reliably, treading a fine line between deadly understatement and blithe disengagement regarding the petty problems of mere mortals.

In his ruminative new memoir, "Nevertheless," Baldwin reveals bits and pieces of a life and career full of switchbacks, some handled more wisely than others. The forlorn, faraway look in Baldwin's eyes on the book cover suggests a personality with a lot on his mind. The actor, New York Philharmonic orchestra announcer, radio and television personality, and combustible activist, "addicted to solitude" by age 9, may be 30-plus years sober, but some addictions are tougher to shake than the chemical ones.

This is Baldwin's second book. The first, "A Promise to Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce," came out in 2008. It ground through the many years of Baldwin's wearying custody travails regarding the now-adult daughter Baldwin shares, uneasily, with his ex-wife, Kim Basinger. Aspects of that legal battle royale come up for further review in "Nevertheless," which takes its title from an old, raunchy theater joke. But mostly the leading man concerns himself here with a tricky childhood and his years as a performer on the rise.

The first half of "Nevertheless" is swift, eloquent, witty; the later chapters are more diffuse and tend to get caught up in grocery-listing the remaining stops along Baldwin's rsum, as well as his tangles with various agents, managers and publicists. Nevertheless. I'm glad I read it; the good stuff in it is very good.

"Six kids and no help" is how Baldwin describes his mother's existence, as young Alexander (who went by Xander) and his five siblings grew up in Massapequa, N.Y. His father died young, at 53, in 1983. "When she struck you," Baldwin writes early on in "Nevertheless," "her right arm sprang toward you snap! ... like Navratilova's backhand."

The author recalls the "rivers of Tab" his mother swallowed over the years. …

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