Saturday, January 14, 2012

Book Review: Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg (Century, 2010)

Nerd Do Well is actor-director-writer Simon Pegg's "journey from a small boy to a big kid". As a Pegg fan, I was really looking forward to diving in and reading about his Star Wars fandom (he wrote his college thesis on the films) and all about the making of some of my favorite movies including Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.

Pegg is all over the place with this book. He spends an exhaustive amount of time on his childhood, particularly some early romantic entanglements. He tangents frequently, usually to discuss Star Wars or Doctor Who - and those were the parts that made me say, "Finally!", sit down to dig in, and two pages later, be right back to his latest teenage paramour. Interspersed between random chapters is a James Bon-esque fantasy adventure novel Pegg seems to really want to have written - with himself in the title role, naturally, and accompanied by a robot butler - that reads like it was a page taken from his high school notebook. I ended up skimming those interludes after a while, then skipping them entirely.
Overall, I felt a bit let down by Nerd Do Well. I guess I was expecting more about Pegg's work and less about his childhood. He addresses this to a degree in his book, claiming that he didn't want to write a conventional autobiography. He mentions his wife and child only in passing, choosing to focus more on his dog when he feels trapped into talking about either of them. Another key area lacking in the book was on his relationship with Nick Frost, who plays his best friend in Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Paul. Frost is mentioned, and Pegg is effusive in praise for his close friend, but I didn't really come away from this book feeling like I knew anything more about Simon Pegg than I did when I began the book - and maybe that's the way he wanted it.

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