...to his surprise (and ours) he pulls himself together and delivers a thorough and sophisticated effort to answer an interesting question: How did an indifferently raised, self-flagellating kid from a just-making-ends-meet, desultorily functioning Long Island family, in Massapequa, turn into Alec Baldwin, gifted actor, familiar public figure, impressively thoughtful person, notorious pugilist? ... The passages about his childhood are beautifully written and unexpectedly moving ... He says that he had no ghostwriter or collaborator for this book. That is impressive, because he’s a highly literate and fluent writer, but it also means that his authorial discipline can abandon him. He has a bit of trouble with transitions.
If Baldwin’s Nevertheless had a subtitle, it would be 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Defeated Egotist' ... What’s consistent is Baldwin’s dissatisfaction with himself and his life. Nevertheless is a blunt object wielded by a man of sharp intellect against his own soul ... It’s refreshing to read a celebrity memoir that is not painted in pastels and glossed with self-actualization, that does not ride off into the sunset after rewarding projects and hurdled obstacles. Nevertheless, because of Baldwin’s aimlessness, is many things: the confession of an Irish Catholic hothead, an appreciation of film and theater by a sincere aesthete, and a 265-page therapy session — wherein the reader becomes an armchair psychoanalyst unable to treat his patient ... That Baldwin is both enraptured and besieged by his own celebrity is what makes him fascinating and combustible; the book itself is only occasionally so. Instead, it is elegant and petty, sometimes on the same page ... By its last third, Nevertheless is checking boxes instead of leaping from and around them — which is a shame, because Baldwin is a fierce wit and proven raconteur.
This readiness to dig deep, to peel back his insecurities and reveal the less flattering parts of his personality, is what gives Nevertheless its moments of clarity and charm ... his flaws are examined thoughtfully and with disarming candour. While some are treated with wryness or a resigned shrug, other more serious ones, such as his accidental drug overdose in his 20s, are offered up with a heartfelt desire to do better ... [the] acerbic moments are amusing enough but they are at odds with his earlier reflectiveness. A shift in tone between Baldwin’s pre- and post-fame existence is inevitable, though the difference here is marked, and the litany of slights, publicity cock-ups and professional hiccups tip him from self-aware to self-absorbed..