Monday, March 21, 2011

Biography: An Improvised Life: A Memoir by Alan Arkin

While Alan Arkin’s An Improvised Life (Da Capo) is disguised as a memoir, it’s really something more than that; though some would say less.

While some personal details are included, An Improvised Life is no one’s idea of the tell-all biography readers seem to hunger for. It’s more like a journeyman’s thoughtful look back at a long and distinguished career. More than anything, An Improvised Life brings us not Arkin the thrice-married father of three. Rather it is a working actor’s contemplation on a vocation that can be consuming, both personally and professionally.

Alan Wolf Arkin was born on March 26th 1934 in New York City. Arkin says he knew he was going to be an actor from early childhood:
At five, acting was already a fever in my blood, and somehow I knew, even then, that the decision was made and there would be no turning back …. Every film I saw, every play, every piece of music fed an unquenchable need to turn myself into something other than what I was.
Arkin addresses his childish passion with the budding craftsman’s eye and heart:
From my earliest memory I had the strong sense that every character trait, every emotional condition possessed by the personalities I saw on screen, was accessible to me.
Fans and admirers of the Academy Award-winning star will enjoy An Improvised Life for the insight to be gained from this personal visit with an actor who proves to be quite deft with a pen. Those who share Arkin’s interest in the acting life will find a great deal to like here, as well.

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