Monday, February 28, 2011

Review: Nerd Do Well

Simon Pegg, 2010, Century

The importance of the movie Shaun of the Dead in kick-starting the current massive popularity of zombies in popular culture simply can't be overstated. Released in 2004, and narrowly preceding a number of similarly influential movies and books such as 28 Days Later, World War Z, Monster Island and Xombies, Shaun perhaps provided more momentum to the craze than any other single release, due to its simultaneous appeal to both Romero devotees and mainstream audiences; here was a brutal, cult-style horror movie masquerading as a mainstream slacker/buddy/satirical romantic britcom (or vice versa), the sort of movie a vast cross-section of different moviegoers could - and did - enjoy, and one that drew those with no prior interest in the zombie subgenre inexorably into the fold.

Nerd Do Well is the autobiography of the man behind Shaun - both the movie and the titular character; actor, comedian and writer Simon Pegg - and focuses upon the amazing circularity of Pegg's life, from a childhood spent immersed in the trappings of geekdom to a man now famed for his direct involvement with, and influence upon, geek culture.

The book is written in a manner every bit as amusing as one might expect (in reading it on the train, my constantly having to stifle fits of laughter lead some of my fellow travellers to think I was having a conniption fit), and provides an engrossing and entertaining insight into Pegg's formative years and beyond. His childlike glee in finding himself, as an adult, shooting a zombie movie, acting in both the Star Trek and Doctor Who reboots, meeting George Lucas in the flesh, being directed by George A. Romero, and so on, provides an extremely satisfying payoff to the tale of a nerd made good. Zombie fans in particular are well catered to, with a wealth of behind-the-scenes information provided on Shaun of the Dead specifically.

Nerd Do Well is a really fun, satisfying and engrossing read, and one that stands head and shoulders above most other autobiographies. A must for geeks of all stripes.