cover image A Life in Parts

A Life in Parts

Bryan Cranston. Scribner, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4767-9385-6

Though known today for Breaking Bad, Cranston played a number of roles before becoming an actor. Paperboy, biker, grocery store security guard—each chapter explores a different facet of Cranston’s personal history, as though Cranston were teaching another actor how to play him onstage. Deeply personal from the outset, Cranston walks readers through his early aimless years, his moment of Zen inspiration to be an actor, and the obsessive hard work on the soap opera Loving, during which he was also dealing with the fallout from an abusive relationship. Cranston discusses his later success on Malcolm in the Middle; Breaking Bad fans, of course, will fly straight to Cranston’s chapters on script changes made behind the scenes and the reasoning behind Walt’s underwear choices. But the way in which Cranston’s simple, staccato prose invites readers to empathize with every “character” he’s played elevates this autobiography to more than just a look behind the scenes—it’s a look behind a life. (Nov.)