Nerd Do Well: A Small Boy’s Journey to Becoming a Big Kid
I’m not usually one for memoir, preferring stories that take me away from my usual plodding nature and make me sit hunched in my armchair for hours on end forgetting that things like time or even a social life exists. Memoirs usually strike me as somewhat boring and containing no insight that I would find particularly valuable. However, when I heard that Simon Pegg had a memoir out, I shoved all of that malarkey away because in my little world, Simon Pegg can do no wrong. From Spaced to Shawn of the Dead to Hot Fuzz to Paul, Simon Pegg has never missed a note.
In this book, he didn’t fail me at all. I’m sure there are parts that would make most normal people start to snore, but let’s be realistic, you’re probably not going to be reading this book unless you have at least one nerd/geek/dweeb (depending on your preference) badge. I mean, the section where he analyzes the impact of Star Wars on its viewers by looking at it through the lens of its historical context was brilliant. I wasn’t lucky enough to have been born when those movies were released (or if I was, I was living in Thailand and still in diapers). I was, however, lucky enough to have a Dad who had the boxed set and let me watch them from a reasonably young age. I’m not old enough to remember the ambient mood of America in the late seventies, but reading Pegg’s analysis added a whole new dimension to the original trilogy for me. As a nerd, you can safely say that my mind was blown.
Pegg hit the perfect tone in terms of how personal he went. His stories about his childhood were heartwarming and sometimes hilarious. (I actually laughed so hard at one point that I gave myself the hiccups.) I didn’t feel like a voyeur while reading. Instead it felt like I was getting to sit down with someone I genuinely respect and share a beer.
The best part: the action adventure that Pegg throws in just for fun. It’s the literary equivalent of how Pegg approaches his films, with his tongue lodged firmly in his cheek. It’s a mini spy novella on its own, but oh my god you guys, I can’t even begin to form the words to describe how hilarious it is. It takes every trite cliché from the whole genre and blasts them on volume 11 (yes, yes, as in “This one goes to 11”), which shouldn’t be surprising at all coming from Pegg.
The only gripe I have is that the book doesn’t universally proceed chronologically. He jumps around a bit, one minute you’re in 1987, but then he’ll pop back to 1982 for a quick anecdote. However, in the context of memoir it makes sense that it jumps around a bit in time because that’s how memory works and Pegg is pretty forthright with warning you about that going in. In a funny way, it makes him into a bit of a time traveler.
I had opened the book thinking it would be an entertaining tale of how Simon Pegg became Simon Pegg, but I got so much more. There’s a the whole separate spy story with Simon Pegg as the super-action hero and then the periodic analysis of films that I hold dear and then the funniest fart story I’ve ever read that (thankfully) actually happened in real life.
Normally when I read, I get this serious look of concern of my face because I worry about the characters I love and I’m afraid to see them get hurt. With this book, I literally smiled my way through it.
4 ink bottles. If you’re a nerd (and you probably are if you’re reading this) this was written for you.