Monday, December 16, 2013

Review: "Nerd Do Well: A Small Boy's Journey To Become A Big Kid", by Simon Pegg

Pages: 368 pgs
Audio Book Details: 4 hrs, 50 mins, Abridged, Read by The Author
Publisher: Gotham
SRP: $18.00
Release date: June 5, 2012

Author's Note: This review is of the Audio Book version.

Simon Pegg is a hypocrite. A celebrity who claims he didn't want to write a memoir went ahead and wrote a memoir. He cashed in! He took the bait! He...actually writes a memoir that's fun and good spirited, while actually keeping track of what a memoir should be. A pillar of Geekdom himself, Mr. Pegg has written not a typical Hollywood memoir of name dropping and self congratulations. He's actually written a memoir about how he got where he is, the people he befriended along the way, and the perils/pitfalls of growing up as a geek in the 1970's.

The book is written on two separate tracks: one details the adventures of Simon Pegg, Batman-esque superhero/master tinkerer/sex god, and his quest against the nefarious Lord Black and the sexy (if not morally ambiguous) Scarlett Panther. The other details Simon Beckingham (later changed to Pegg, after his Step-Father) and his journey through childhood, adolescence, and eventually adulthood. The former is a comic romp through an adventure that mixes all of the nerdy influences that Simon grew up with and still indulges in to this day, while the latter is his straightforward (but equally comic) life story. Both of these components compliment each other to the point where while you're enjoying one aspect playing out over Pegg's rather smooth vocals, you're still excited to switch off to the other track and get back to the thread that he left hanging oh so expertly.

Pegg's writing is a lot like the many projects he's written and acted in: a lot of geek humor and profanity/absurdity, mixed with actual emotional resonance and meaning. You can tell why he's worked so well with Edgar Wright and Nick Frost, besides the fact that he had pre-existing friendships with both before working with them on Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and most recently The World's End. What's even more impressive than his detailing his friendships turning into partnerships, or the pivotal moments in geekdom that forever influenced Mr. Pegg's work, is the accounts he provides when it comes to meeting his childhood idols. In fact this book flies in the face of the old saying, "Never meet your heroes", as Pegg not only did get to meet them, but in some cases has befriended them, worked with them, or even received endorsement from them. Never once is this played as anything more than Pegg being humble and awe struck, and never once is he bragging outside of the role of a geek that got to meet Carrie Fisher at Comic Con. He even awkwardly confesses that he used to kiss a poster of her in her Slave Leia outfit from Return of the Jedi, and the result is sweet if not hysterical.

I can't speak for the print version (though I am curious to visit it sometime in the future), but the Audio Book version is perfect for marathon listening or a long commute home. Pegg's tone of voice in the memoir is even handed, but a tad on the dry side at times, which counterbalances his comic narrative tone as he mixes in a heaping dose of Shaun's inner voice. If anything, I'd love to see Simon branch off into fictional writing after this book and continue the adventures of his debonair rogue of heroism and his faithful robotic sidekick, Canterbury. Even if it was turned into a monthly comic, I would totally buy it. Simply put, Pegg has enough talent telling the truth as he does telling a lie, and he manages to do both in equally fitting measure. If you love his work, or even if you just want a fun tale of geekery, seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time, and hearing Mr. Pegg imitate George A. Romero's vocal styling, then you owe it to yourself to take a good long afternoon with this book. It is nothing short than a pure brick of Fried Gold.

Next Time: "Doctor Who: The Angel's Kiss - A Melody Malone Mystery"