Monday, June 6, 2011

Review: Simon Pegg's 'Nerd Do Well'

Simon Pegg is the role model horror, sci-fi, and comedy geeks always craved. Less contemptuous of his fans than Bruce Campbell, Pegg is the ultimate geek hero because he is completely grateful for and humbled by his success with such stellar work as “Spaced”, Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz. That humbleness pervades his memoir Nerd Do Well, although I’m not really sure why this is categorized as a memoir rather than an autobiography. I’ve always made the distinction that autobiographies are by famous people and memoirs are by unknown people who’ve been hooked on crack, abused in some way, or most commonly, both. Pegg is famous enough, and aside from a good deal of ganja puffing, there isn’t anything in the way of drug abuse in this book. Aside from his parents’ divorce, several teen heartbreaks, and one genuinely tragic event involving a boyhood friend, he seems to have lived a pretty happy, pretty charmed life.

Pegg often writes that he doesn’t really know why such a jolly story needs to be told. He’d rather be doing other things, like making up a cheeky sci-fi scenario starring his superhuman alter-ego and robot butler buddy that could easily have made a neat novel in itself, or delivering a thoughtful multi-chapter essay about his favorite movie, Star Wars. Pegg’s autobiographical vignettes aren’t always as interesting as his tangents, but his flawless writing and sincere amiability make every page enjoyable reading. Pegg knows a straight life-story narrative is no way to convey the geekiness that made him a cult hero. By showing us what he likes to do and talk about, what cracks him up, and what inspires him, he creates a complete, personal, and specific self-portrait. And like his best work on TV and film, it is breezy, often touching, and frequently hilarious fun. Pegg’s accounts of befriending his own heroes—George Romero, Gillian Anderson, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, John Landis, Rob Morrow—are delivered with geeky awe rather than name-dropping smarm. He is just as jazzed about meeting these people as anyone reading his book would be to meet him. Simon (I hope he doesn’t mind my assumption we’re on a first-name basis) never lets us forget he is one of us.

Get Nerd Do Well: A Small Boy’s Journey to Becoming a Big Kid by Simon Pegg at Amazon.com here.
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