Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Books Yay!: My Booky Wook, by Russell Brand

At some point, I realized that I had to accept that I loved Katy Perry and Russell Brand, and that was awkward.  I didn't really like Katy Perry and I didn't know who the hell Russell Brand was, but they were so damn cute in interviews about their engagement and eventual marriage that all my defenses were worn to the ground.  They were just so sincere and so respectful of each other, and I really liked seeing a big couple demonstrating that kind of equal and balanced relationship in public.  I also came to terms with the fact that damn it, I like Katy Perry's catchy music no matter how hard I try to resist, and you can judge me for that all you want, but there is no way I have a chance against someone who makes a music video about having fireworks explode out of your chest, which is basically the superpower I would choose if I had the option because I love fireworks, people.

After these revelations, I thought, "well, I don't know much about this Brand fellow besides his relationship with my new BFF and his propensity for wearing ridiculous pants," and checked out his autobiography.  I hate when reviewers get all existential about book covers, but the title really does tell you a lot about Brand: this isn't some serious tome about his grind to the top, but a serious and surprisingly objective look back at the imperfect life of someone who doesn't take himself seriously.  Brand is refreshingly open about his myriad fuck-ups, and he doesn't attempt to glamourize them, even as he admits the charms of that lifestyle.  He freely admits that he was kind of a shitty person for an extended period of time, and I really liked his willingness to stand up, now ostensibly having gotten his act together, and say "look, this was fun at the time but it made me a legitimately bad person and that is not a good thing."

Brand also talks about being a smart and talented person and what knowing that did to wreak havoc on his life.  I really related to this; while I've avoided fucking up on Brand's scale, I know what it's like to decide you can coast on your natural talents and then have that come back to bite you.  He rolled through drama programs and schools and environments, getting bored and resisting direction throughout, and in the end, that cost him opportunities and friendships.  It's a good warning to anyone feeling those pangs of boredom.  This is a problem that is tough to articulate, and Brand really handled it well.

This is a great summer read.  Brand is a funny bastard, and as is the case with so many great comedians, much of his best humor can come from sadness or tragedy. I'm not sure how much of this book he wrote, but my impression is actually that most of it is his work, and while that in and of itself is admirable in a time when it's much more popular to hire a ghostwriter, it also represents the gift of a talented voice.  It is always hard to understand how someone becomes famous, because most famous people take careful note of those they knew on their way who were just as talented and even sometimes harder working, but didn't make it, and Brand's discussion of the weirdness of fame is fascinating and deftly relayed.

Side note: Russell Brand recently posted a truly beautiful and insightful tribute to Amy Winehouse.  It is worth a read.  You can check it out on his website and I highly recommend that you do.

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