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The Life and Times of Kevin S
on 29 March 2012
Since I saw a headline on my RSS feed - "Fat Director kicked off flight" - and clicked on it, then (after reading the brief article surrounded by many ads) going to the Smodcast website, I've been hearing about Kevin Smith's life ever since. For a solid 2 years and change I've had Smodcast and its many, many attendant podcasts playing whenever I've had a long drive with myself or a walk to work or washing up and needing something non-musical. But having listened to the many entertaining stories Kevin has imparted, along with having seen his Q&A specials "Too Fat for Forty" and "Kevin Smith Burn in Hell", I realised after the first chapter of this book that for a person who shares everything, there's very little left to surprise someone who's been following along and listened to every story.
Smith uses his father as an example for the rest of the book - Don Smith was a man who worked 20 years in a job he hated (the US postal service) to provide for his family and then after a too-short retirement, died of heart failure, screaming. The message to Smith was clear - never do a job you hate, never have regrets so when the time comes, you won't go out in as much pain.
From there we get a whirlwind look at Smith's career, the story of "Clerks", and a brief synopsis of every film made since then. The filming of "Cop Out" and his clashes with Bruce Willis are documented, as well as the filming of "Red State" which takes up several chapters. What became known as the "Too Fat to Fly" incident with South West is detailed, and a loving final chapter to his wife Jennifer Schwalbach closes out the book along with a short note from their daughter Harley Quinn Smith.
But for most Kevin Smith fans looking for something new or different from what Kevin usually blogs/tweets/podcasts about? It's not in this book. "Tough S---" is basically a summary of Kev's career as well as a look into the memorable events of the last couple of years, all of which has been thoroughly talked about through Kevin's many podcasts. I suppose for those who haven't been following the pods this is a good place to get his thoughts on the South West incident, Bruce Willis, and Red State, but for those who have, the book might seem like a lot of re-heated material.
That said, the book's message is put out clearly - if I can do it, so can you. Kevin is the encouragement any artist reading this book might lack and, with it, that artist might go on and create and find confidence in their work and create more. And for that alone, this book is worth it.
Despite the feeling of déjà vu I felt while reading it, Smith writes so fluidly (a theme in and of itself in the book) and with such verve, humour, and intelligence, the book is never dull and having read some other reviews of this book, he is clearly an inspiration to many readers. For anyone looking for a book that markets itself as a self-help book but is really a series of funny essays in the life of a charming and gifted storyteller, this book can do no wrong. A quick read but fun, "Tough S---" is a good time with common sense wisdom amid the jokes.