Review: Nerd Do Well

Despite all this divulging of long-held secrets, what you won’t be reading about in this book are salacious details of, say, for example… my first sexual experience

This is the last sentence of the second chapter of Simon Pegg’s memoirs Nerd Do Well. The third chapter promptly goes on to tell of Pegg’s first sexual experiences. This is the irreverent nature of Nerd Do Well. Mr. Pegg isn’t just content with break his own rules and starts his non-fiction biography with… a fictional account of himself. Interspersed between the stories of his life is the tale of a fictional globetrotting version of Simon Pegg that spends his time fighting crime and saving the world with the aid of his robotic butler/sidekick. As far as autobiographies go, this one is quite unique.

It is my personal experience that many people who decide to entertain others for a living have a different sort of upbringing and this seems to go doubly for musicians and comedians. Pegg’s childhood seems to only reinforce this idea. The son of a young artistic couple, he found himself involved in the theater at an early age and never lost the desire to be in the spotlight. Add latent abandonment issues from a divorce to the mix and you’re looking at a pretty typical story, but at no point do you feel like Pegg is looking for pity. Even as he discusses the darker things from his life, he never allows himself to stop being entertaining.

From the animated Star Trek series to telling his first joke, Nerd Do Well focuses on what was important to Simon Pegg as he grew up and the things that would ultimately be instrumental in making him the man he is today. Stories of being a life guard, teachers farting apart tables and meeting his heroes are often charming if not outright hilarious. As is to be expected from a memoir by a giant geek, there is a lot of talk about Star Wars. Multiple chapters are dedicated to the film as he not only talks about why it was important to him, but also why it was so important to the geek culture he loves so much. Then later in the book he talks about the franchise even more as he recounts the prequels. If nothing else, you will be clear on Pegg’s feelings about Star Wars by the end of this book.

Be warned, those that are looking for insight into the creation of Spaced, Shaun of the Dead or Paul are better served listening to commentaries or watching the hours upon hours of special features that exist on various DVDs. Most of the book focuses on the formative years that would eventually lead to Simon Pegg becoming the man who created these cult works of geek entertainment. Very little of the book is dedicated to his recent work and I think most fans will appreciate that.

My only complaint is that I wish the non-memoir sections of the book were saved for their own project and excluded from Nerd Do Well. While I often found myself struggling to get through the fictional accounts of the tongue-in-cheek adventures of Simon Pegg, it wasn’t due to their lack of quality and humor. Frankly I just wanted to read more about the real Simon Pegg and to me these interludes felt more like speed bumps than a break from the more serious moments of the book.

Now some of our international readers might be wondering why I am doing a review on a book that has been out since October of last year. Well, much like Top Gear and Doctor Who we Americans are late to the party. Nerd Do Well is actually getting its first release this week in the States. The good news for Anglophiles is that Pegg’s “English” remains intact. The book is being released unchanged from its original version with the exception of a forward written by Pegg specifically for this American release.

Overall, I would easily recommend this book to any Simon Pegg fan. I would also recommend it to people that enjoy insight into what turns an everyday normal kid into an entertainer. If you’re looking for scandalous Hollywood dish, stories of sexual deviancy or dark drug fueled rages, this is not the title for you. It’s a fun little memoir that rarely gets dry and is an interesting look into the life of true international geek royalty.

[xrr rating=”4/5″]

Nerd Do Well will be available online and in bookstores everywhere on June 9th.

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