“I didn’t realise it at the time but I was quit possibly at a metaphorical fork in the road. One path led away to easy superficial fun – all bright lights, loud noise and sugar – the other led to the movies. Now I know “Raiders of the Lost Ark” isn’t Fellini but, crucially for me, it represented choosing substance over stimulation, mental interaction over a more fleeting sensory gratification.”
Simon Pegg’s memoir is a great read for fans of the actor himself and for anyone who enjoys the “nerd” subculture. He is best known for his work in Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Star Trek (the 2009 J.J Abrams film version…also known for launching the bromance between Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto…also known as Pinto, but that’s another story). I am a massive fan of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright and these three hilarious Brits have been behind some of my favorite movies and television shows (if you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and check out Spaced IMMEDIATELY). Naturally, Pegg’s book was a summer must read after its American release; the man did a huge press tour for the release, dropping by talk shows and doing signings in book stores. Sadly, I was unable to go to the book signings, but you bet I drooled in front of my computer and television watching him chat with Jimmy Fallon and my beloved Conan O’Brien.
Pegg starts off by mentioning his unease with detailing his private life, but eventually delves into moments that shaped his future path as an actor, comedian, and writer. He describes his parents who provided an artistic environment at home, teachers who fostered a love for writing and zombies, and of course, the friendships and relationships that started, continued and deepened on the ride to stardom.
We all know I’m a Pegg fangirl, but even I can’t say that the book was absolutely perfect. There were some chapters where I got a little frustrated because he would drift off into musings about technology or current trends, and my mind would scream things like “THIS CHAPTER IS ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD! WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT THIS?!” Still, I don’t blame him. I learned in my Communication 135 Nonverbal Class that people who hold conversations tend to drift off into other topics, but it doesn’t confuse the other conversational partner because we tend to organize conversations linearly. We may diverge and/or repeat a previous topic but our minds recall the topics in order. Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent wasn’t it? I mean to say that while this is fine in conversations, reading it on a page is a lot harder.
However, Nerd Do Well gives the reader great insight into Pegg’s passion for comedy, film, television, and more. My favorite chapters were the ones about his Star Wars obsession (particularly the pages devoted to his crush on Carrie Fisher), admiring certain comedians/actors and then working with them later on (like SPOCK!), and of course, his friendships with Nick Frost, Jessica Hynes, Edgar Wright, Michael Smiley, and more. I also loved that he broke the monotony of an autobiography with a short story featuring a fictionalized, smooth, James Bond-like version of himself who goes on a mission, along with his trusty robot companion Canterbury, to find the Scarlet Panther. That short story itself should be a film! Pegg and Canterbury definitely had me laughing out loud, but real Pegg had me laughing, thinking, and sighing (I was going to put “aww-ing” but that sounds awful! Again, you get the picture).
Bottom Line: Nerd Do Well is a must read for Simon Pegg fans and anyone who has even a slight interest in his films will enjoy this book. It’s a light, entertaining read that will have you smiling and laughing. Simon Pegg, is not just a talented screenwriter, but a great writer in general.
I shall end this post with one of my favorite quotes from the book that have ended up in my favorite quotes of all time.
“We might not know we are seeking people who best enrich our lives, but somehow on a deep, subconscious level we absolutely are. Whether the bond is temporary or permanent, whether it succeeds or fails, fate is simply a conflagration of choices that combine with others to shape the relationships that surround us. We cannot choose our family but we can choose our friends, and we do, sometimes, before we even met them.”