Friday, September 27, 2013

Nerd Do Well: A Small Boy's Journey to Becoming a Big Kid by Simon Pegg

Why I read it: I've been a fan of Pegg's movies since Shaun of the Dead was released in the U.S.; i.e., from the beginning.

Summary: Unfinished autobiography.

My Thoughts: The good thing is that I'm still a fan.

It's happened to me before. I can't remember with whom or when, but I remember reading a memoir, learning more about a person than I had previously known, and becoming deeply disappointed by the realization that I really didn't like them any more. And that's saying something, as I'm a very accepting person, willing to see life from any perspective. So, I guess, in that sense, Pegg was always pretty much generally safe.

But then, he is a British actor, and probably would have beaten the odds anyway. Since my early Monty Python days I've looked to England for comedy, and have become well acquainted with everything from Hancock's Half Hour and The Goon Show to Life on Mars (OK, not a comedy series, but with some true comedic moments thanks to character Detective Gene Hunt played by Philip Glenister). The problem is that as far as Americans know there are only twelve British actors in total, and they appear in everything: Bill Nighy, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, etc. Every few years, another one or two, like Pegg and Nick Frost, rotate into the mix, but the others don't leave. Still, there are only twelve. I know the math doesn't work, but it's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

Case in point: at several points in the book, Pegg mentions things like "I remember the first time I worked with Adrian Edmonson..." Of course he would! He's one of the Twelve, starting with the Young Ones and going forward. And they all appear in each other's films. I recently went to see Pegg's latest film, The World's End, and simply waited for the cameos. And there they were, Pierce Brosnan and, of course, Bill Nighy.

Pegg's autobiography is loaded with wit, as one would expect, and in the beginning works wonderfully in defining the road he followed to reach ridiculous stardom from broken-home internalization of fears and worries. Toward the end, it begins to ramble, but he notices that fact and shuts it down abruptly. After all, he's in his early forties, at the height of his career. How does one finish an autobiography at that point in his life? Hopefully, there's so much more to come that there will be a second volume, something like Pegg Strikes Back. He is, after all, one of the world's preeminent Star Wars geeks. Prediction: he lands a role in episode 7, now being talked about.

The book features lots of great photos and a science fiction short story intermingled with the autobiographical chapters, featuring Pegg as an international man of mystery who is absolutely nothing like James Bond, written in the same humorous style as his movies. Who knows? Maybe someday it'll be one.

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