Idgiepug’s #CBR4 Review #31: Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg
This seems to be my year to try reading in new ways. I read my first graphic novel, and most lately I tried Simon Pegg’s Nerd Do Well in audiobook format, something I tried only once before and ran far away from. My husband and I read books aloud, but I actually do most of the reading. I’m just not an auditory learner, I guess. To be fair, that first audiobook was Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury read by a man named Wolfram Kandinsky, who will live forever in infamy in our house. We were taking a course on Faulkner and Toni Morrison which required us to read seven books in a semester while we were teaching full time, so we thought an audiobook to play in the car would be a good way to speed our progress, but it was miserable. No offense to Mr. Kandinsky, who is making a living reading books while I spend most evenings slogging through essays written by teenagers, but it was freaking awful. His voice for Benjy, the mentally handicapped brother, was bad, but his attempt at mimicking the African-American servants charged with minding Benjy was simply too much to take. We do find ourselves occasionally, lo these many years later, saying to each other “Hush, Beeeenjy!” in mock-Kandinsky voices, so I guess it wasn’t a complete waste of time. Anyway, despite that introduction to the genre, Mr. Pug has continued listening to audio books, so much so that they’ve become his primary method of reading, but I never warmed to the idea. Then he was able to download Nerd Do Well from the library before I was able to get a physical copy, and I was insanely jealous, so he offered to let me try it out when he was finished. I don’t know if I’ll do it regularly, but it worked well for this book. Pegg’s own narration is delightful and funny, and his book was interesting and poignant without being soppy. I was also able to do a whole bunch of yard work while reading, so that’s a plus, I think.
Anyway, in Nerd Do Well Pegg juxtaposes the story of his life with the story of a fictional Simon Pegg, international playboy and man of mystery. It’s a funny little device, which seems to relate to Pegg’s own admission that he tends to deflect questions about his personal life by defaulting to stories of his dog. The fictional Pegg seems to serve the same purpose here by being a sort of relief for real Pegg when his personal story gets too, well, personal. I know the device has bothered other readers, but I thought the fictional Pegg’s deliberately cheesy story was pretty funny and that there was just enough of it. Simon Pegg has long been on my “five freebies” list, usually along with his friend Nick Frost (I like my men to be slightly nerdy, a bit odd, and damn funny), so I was predisposed to like this book, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. Pegg’s story isn’t groundbreaking or especially moving, but it was interesting to hear how he went from nerdy theater kid to international star. My only complaint was that the end of his autobiography seemed to turn into more name-dropping than actual story, but it’s a minor complaint.
It’s impossible for me to be completely objective about this book, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think the audiobook format actually improved the experience, despite my reservations, because Pegg does a fantastic job of narrating his story. Audiobooks will never be my favorite medium, but this has nearly wiped away the memory of that first awful experience.