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Book Review: ‘Nerd Do Well’ By Simon Pegg
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Nerd Do WellNerd Do Well
A Small Boy’s Journey to Becoming a Big Kid
Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle
By Simon Pegg
Gotham Books
Release date: June 09, 2011

Despite what you’ve been lead to believe, Nerd Do Well is not an autobiography. Except that it is, but it isn’t… It’s a crafty book disguise designed by Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Star Trek) as memoirs, within which he has been able to insert the true book: The Adventure of Suave Superhero Simon Pegg and his Amazing Robot Butler.

Yes, you read that accurately.

Stuffed very cleverly in between different chapters reviewing Pegg’s life is this crafty, and hysterical, tale of him as a secret agent superhero, with an automaton sidekick that he would have you believe bears absolutely no resemblance to any robot sidekick ever used. Get that vision of C-3PO out of your head right now, because Canterbury (the robot) is, at Pegg’s insistence, nothing like the Star Wars droid. (Pegg likewise insists that C-3PO is not gay, which I assure you that he is. My robot gaydar is of an excellent standard.)

But while Pegg’s escapade (a story we all wish we could write and publish, believe me) is something that would translate well as a television series or movie, it is not just the only highlight of Nerd Do Well.

In fact, the most touching part about Nerd Do Well is that it is a valentine to all things geek. While Pegg does outline his childhood and growth into the talented performer he is today, it is the meticulous focus on the impact of all-things-geek has had on him during his life. In many ways, several of the chapters could well have been something you or I have written, based on our own experiences with Star Wars, Star Trek, Zombies, and Doctor Who

I do not insinuate this in a condescending fashion (“Oh what crap, I could have written this”), I mean that Pegg nails the experiences, and more importantly, the significance of the experiences with such thorough care and awareness, you will find yourself transported back to the days of your own youth experiencing those moments: the first time you saw Star Wars, how hard it was to get your hands on hardcore horror flicks before the days of the interwebtubes, the manner in which the Daleks in Doctor Who scared us little buggers so much we hid behind sofas, and so on.

It is really interesting learning about Simon Pegg’s upbringing, his initiation to acting and theater, and how he moved from doing appearances on UK comedy shows, to co-showrunning Spaced, to the epic explosion of Shaun of the Dead. It is a “hero’s journey” in the sense of the myths and legends, as he charts the trials and tribulations he faced getting to where he is now. (It’s also a book of bragging rights, as Pegg outlines what his younger self may have thought about being in George Romero’s Land of the Dead, J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek film, and securing a role in the 2005 series of Doctor Who).

He goes into great detail on how his friendships and professional relationships develop – most notably with Nick Frost and Edgar Wright. In fact, Pegg illuminates further on his friendship with Frost – noting it to be a significant bromance, comparable to Starsky and Hutch.

But while this is of interest, Pegg steals the “show,” if it were, in this book is the manner in which he analyzes and dissects all things geek. His intricate look into A New Hope, in comparison to its impact of the Original Star Wars Trilogy as a whole, is something that you would find in an scholarly paper on cinema and literary history. Or on a Star Wars message board.

But this is, precisely the point. Simon Pegg, like ourselves, recognizes the importance of ‘all-things-geek’ (several avoid this phrase by inserting the pompous tag ‘pop culture’ instead), and the manner in which it is so much more than surface appearances. There is always something deeper, with loads of meaning, which make us drift towards and love the things we do. Whether it is classic episodes of The Young Ones, or re-exploring the video game franchise of Resident Evil, or a deeper look into The X Files, all of our obsessions become our obsessions simply because of the intelligent reflection of society contained therein, above the numerous levels of multifaceted commentaries and meanings.

Simon Pegg’s outstanding humor is obviously permeated throughout the book that it truly feels like a conversation with him. His casual approach to explaining events in his life, mixed with the inevitable humor actually make for compelling reading. I would hope Pegg considers future writing, because on different levels it reminded me of the fun I had reading material by Spike Milligan and George Carlin.

It is no secret that Pegg is a huge Star Wars fan, and naturally, the George Lucas saga comes into his autobiography several times. At first, it is a love affair with the Original Trilogy, as Pegg scrutinizes how it became such a gigantic part of his life. However, it is as we get into the 2000s where I start to have a bone-to-pick with Mr. Pegg. For while he has always been a massive critic of the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy (his character burned his Star Wars memorabilia in Spaced, mirroring Vader’s funeral in Return of the Jedi), I have always been quite the fan and defender of Episodes I, II, and III. And while it did begin to become a bone-to-pick with Sir You-Have-Red-On-You, his concentrated observations and inspections of the most recent Star Wars movies ended up having me silent in thought, pondering his argument.

Simon Pegg’s deconstruction of the prequels still hasn’t changed my view, but he is commendably dedicated to justifying his strong opinions on elements from geek culture, that you just cannot help but soak up his thoughts. Besides this, his examination and criticisms of the Star Wars series do lead into a tale wherein Pegg meets George Lucas for the first time, which leads into an incredibly profound realization of Lucas providing much reasoning for the genesis of the prequels, and into Pegg’s criticisms therein. And even though you cannot have everything, I was disappointed that Simon did not give us a nice analysis rundown of how George’s neck-beard was looking during the time they met.

Outside of Star Wars though, there are various other homages and love letters written for many different aspects of geek lore that we all love – from Lord of the Rings to Evil Dead, Pegg’s autobiography will take you back to the moments in which you yourself found your geek preoccupation as well.

But this, of course, is all bollocks.

Because the only reason you need this book is for The Adventures Of Simon Pegg And Canterbury And The Mystery Of The Scarlet Panther And The Star Of Nefertiti And The Tablet Of Amenhotep IV.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Simon Pegg: Nerd Do Well

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