Century, 2010. 368 pages.
“It was never my intention to write an autobiography. The very notion made me uneasy. You see them congesting the bookshop shelves at Christmas. Rows of needy smiles, sad clowns and serious eyes, proclaiming faux-modest life stories, with titles such as This is Me, or Why, Me? or Me, Me, Me. I didn’t want to do that. It’s not really me.”
So starts Simon Pegg’s autobiography, Nerd Do Well, and despite his best efforts Pegg never really succeeds in writing something exceptional. Pegg’s writing engages, but to the same extent it engages initially, so also it proves forgettable. (Pegg, for the uninitiated, is the star of such cult classics as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, and some other things.) Since his entrance into comedy in primary school he has written his own material, and the experience pays off. But as a 40-something cult movie star Pegg has little to offer in the wide range. His book is a collection of anecdotes of two varieties: “Who I Know and How I Met Them” and Adolescent Memories. Either are fine, of course, however much I may cringe at his breathless affection for Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith.
Most frustrating is perhaps Pegg’s avoidance of a proper timeline. The reader is left to piece together what happened when. One event might appear prior to another event which happened three years after, with only context clues to determine the linear story.
Pegg’s atheism is annoying but not over the top (comparing belief in God to belief in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, or referring to Jesus as a “much loved historical crackpot”); his preoccupation with his own sexuality dominates. His drawn-out comparison between the first time he felt a girl’s breasts and the first time he received fellatio may be an illustrative example of the darkening of the conscience, but not one I’ll ever use when catechizing on the Theology of the Body. Pegg’s reticence to reveal personal information (he speaks of his dog much more than his wife or child, and the only photo of his daughter in the [two] photo sections is from behind) seems lopsided when you read so much about his penis but never quite learn how many brothers or sisters he’s got.