by Alan Arkin

Da Capo Press, $17.00, 201 pages

Who would’ve thought one of the best books of the year would be written by an actor?  Of course, Alan Arkin, star of Little Miss Sunshine, Catch-22 and about eighty other films, is no ordinary actor. He’s a man who has devoted much of his life (from the age of five, in fact) to the craft, and in this book he chronicles the development of an artist as a young man to the academy award winner he is today.

To be clear, this isn’t the story of his life; this is the story of his life’s work. The book is never slowed down by any turgid recollections of the lows in his personal life, nor are there any sordid details to arouse gossipers. This is almost entirely about his maturation in theater and film. For the aspiring actor, it provides inspiration as well as clear-eyed instruction, and for the cinephile, it provides insights into what makes actors stand out. Also, there are reminiscences of friends, coworkers, and family like Madeline Kahn, Adam Arkin, and Groucho Marx. The one fault is that Arkin’s career has spanned many decades while the book spans a mere 200 pages or so.

Reviewed by Corey Pung