The book debut by the comedian and actor responsible for Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz is likely to please the author’s following but not necessarily expand it.
Too many books from those known for their comedy seem to recycle standup routines and collect miscellany. By comparison, this reads like an actual memoir by an actual writer—albeit one who intersperses more conventional memoir with chapters in which he recasts himself as a futuristic superhero with a mandate to save the world. While the chronological hopscotch through Pegg’s memory provides plenty of insight into and evidence of his comedic sensibility, his focus on his childhood, and the rites of passage that most experience, makes the results somewhat less compelling than a memoir with more of his professional experiences might have been. “I’m just not that interested in dishing the dirt, and besides, I don’t really have that much dirt to dish,” he writes, before concluding that “the truth is, the most interesting stuff to write about, and hopefully to read, took place as a prelude to the whole showbiz malarkey.” Readers needn’t be obsessed with “dirt” to suspect that “the whole showbiz malarkey” might have involved experiences more revelatory than the typical accounts of prepubescent romance and adolescent sexuality, and quite a bit about swimming pools and life guarding. Beyond the chronicling of his decades as a “zombie virgin,” there is plenty of evidence that the filmmaker is also a film geek, from his boyhood crush on Carrie Fisher through his acknowledgment of not only George Romero but Mel Brooks, the Coen brothers and Woody Allen as seminal influences.
Pegg acknowledges his editors for “helping shape my somewhat shapeless train of thought into, of all things, an actual book,” and this proves to be an actual book with a voice that sounds authentically like its author’s.