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VINE VOICEon 1 February 2011
Like most fans of Simon Pegg, I first discovered him and his work with the seminal sitcom "Spaced" he co-wrote and co-starred in with Jessica Hynes (nee Stevenson), and ever since I've been delighted to see him and the phenomenally inventive director Edgar Wright create some of the funniest and best-made films around ("Shaun Of The Dead" and "Hot Fuzz"). With this autobiography, I was eager to read the behind-the-scenes journey of how Pegg ascended from fan to creator and how these beloved shows and films got made.

Let me first say that there's much about this book that I really enjoyed. The majority of it focuses on Pegg's childhood and school career and there are some fond, well-told reminiscences of his early influences in theatre and comedy, teachers who inspired and spurred him on, and even his first faltering steps into sex and romance (including a sweetly-told anecdote of his love for a French exchange student), along with a colourful general background of growing up in Gloucester.

We also get a few mini-essays, in which Pegg goes off on a tangent to share his often insightful thoughts on, say, the cultural significance of the original "Star Wars" trilogy or the symbolic meaning behind zombies in classic horror films.

However, there's also much about this book that disappointed / frustrated me, and will probably disappoint a lot of other Pegg fans.

Firstly, the narrative is wilfully scattershot, jumping back and forth a lot, which makes it hard to keep track of when we are in Pegg's life and what happened in which year. It can also make it feel as if certain stretches of the narrative go on forever, as we keep jumping back to an event we've already read about, whilst other events are referred to obliquely out of context but never actually placed in time.

Secondly, the autobiography is interspersed with chapters of a (fake) novel that Pegg is writing. This novel is written as a parody of self-aggrandizing fan fic, in which Pegg depicts himself as a jet-setting secret agent with a robot butler; the 'poor' writing is quite funny and nicely observed, and the chapters are brief and infrequent, so this element probably wouldn't bother me if it weren't that:

Thirdly, and most frustrating, there's hardly anything about the making of "Spaced", his films or his working and personal relationships with Jessica Hynes, Edgar Wright et al. This is undoubtedly what many Pegg fans will be salivating for when buying this book and there's a crushing disappointment that comes in realising that, with only 50 pages of book left to go, this whole period of Pegg's life is just going to be skimmed over.

Ultimately, this is the autobiography that Simon Pegg wanted to write; not necessarily the one that some of his fans would want to read. What is featured in this book is interesting, well-told and often poignant; however, it's unavoidably overshadowed by what ISN'T featured, whilst the book could also have benefitted from some tighter or more straightforward structuring. Now that the hardback price has come down, well worth a try with those caveats in mind.
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on 8 February 2011
I'm not a fan of autobiographies, I often find that the author reveals too little, or too much of themselves, meaning that by the end I don't like them. This is certainly not the case with Simon Pegg's `Nerd Do Well', as he comes across as a genuine and funny bloke, just like in the majority of his comedy. `Nerd Do Well' also proves that he is a great comedic writer; if the likes of `Spaced', `Shaun of the Dead', `Hot Fuzz' and the `Paul' were not enough. The book is 90% real biography and 10% fake science fiction version of Pegg. I loved these pulp fiction sections as they allowed Pegg to really play with words, a skill he performs brilliantly. I also liked the sections on film analysis, but that is a personal preference of my own and will not be to everyone's taste.

The majority of the book is a mixed bag and could be described as a little dull at times. When I read an autobiography I usually skim over the `what made me who I am' child years and get to the fun famous bits. Unfortunately, `Nerd Do Well' is almost all Pegg's childhood and only a few chapters on his early film and TV career. I respect that he does not want to reveal dirt, but I am such a huge fan of his comedy that I would have liked more details on the day to day writing and filming of `Spaced', or the feeling of being Scotty in `Star Trek'. He touches on these elements, but not to the same degree as the seemingly extraneous details of his youth.

Pegg openly admits in his writing that he wrote `Nerd Do Well' almost as a stream of consciousness, he found himself revealing his early life as it was natural for him. However, for fans of the actor and comedian it is natural for us to want to know more about his career. Therefore, there is a mixed message from the book; brilliantly written, but with some uninteresting content at times. He's still one of my favourite comedians, but I would have liked more from this book.
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on 28 May 2017
Great read
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on 13 September 2011
Perhaps I expected too much but I found this to be a bit of a disappointment. It's well-written, but the narrative is a little scattershot; bouncing around history, invariably repeating bits and pieces and never really concentrating on the stuff I suspect many of his fans want in focus. While autobiographies are, by their very nature, self-indulgent (a fact that Pegg admits early on), often I get the feeling that he wants to dwell too much on his childhood and not enough on the things that gave him a wider audience. I can understand that he'd rather reminisce about being a youngling than talking about the stuff he discusses all the time but, to be frank, his childhood isn't particularly out of the ordinary and is neither sombre nor hilarious. Plus, I got a little irritated by the frequent concept of "If I'd only known in 20 years time that I would get to meet the director of this film..." if only because it starts to get a little conceited.

Spaced, Star Trek, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are skimmed over. What we get instead are sporadic chapters devoted to a "novel" that Pegg is, supposedly, writing. An interesting idea but, after a couple of entries, the jokes wears pretty thin and I invariably starting skipping them.

Don't get me wrong; there's some really nice stuff in here (a chapter on a frenchgirl he had a crush being the standout) but if you want Simon Pegg discussing "the things you saw him in", this isn't it.
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Over the last ten years Simon Pegg has risen from being a minor stand-up comic to one of the UK's most recognisable funny men, via the classic TV series Spaced and the movies Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. He's also become a sort-of ambassador and spokesman for geek culture due to his well-known love of all things SF&F (only don't mention the Star Wars prequels in his presence).

This autobiography is an interesting read but ultimately fails to entirely satisfy. Pegg himself seems to frequently cast aspersions on the project, pointing out that most celebrity bios are rubbish and a bit pointless. Whilst Pegg has certainly had an interesting enough career to cover in a book (moving from unknown stand-up to having Spielberg, Romero, Tarantino and Peter Jackson on his mobile phone contacts list), much of this 'interesting stuff' gets short shrift. Instead, the book focuses on Pegg's childhood, teenage years and upbringing in Gloucestershire.

Pegg writes engagingly, but eschews any type of chronological structure in favour of a thematic one, although this doesn't work well. As such the book bounces around the timeline of his life fairly randomly as he recounts various childhood incidents. Some of these are very funny, but the problem Pegg has is that he had a perfectly ordinary, middle-class upbringing in the 1970s and 1980s. Despite his strong geek credentials, he wasn't really a stereotypical geek at school either. Indeed, he was exuberant, out-going and arty, and even spent a brief period bullying younger and smaller children at school (until, not entirely unsympathetically, one of his victims grew up to be much bigger than him and eventually exacted revenge). His recounting of friendships and early romantic entanglements is rather endearing, but the book only really gets interesting when we get insights into events that were clearly influential on his later acting and writing.

For example, arguably the three finest chapters in the book deal with Star Wars. The first two recount his early exposure to the trilogy and his essay on the trilogy's impact on popular culture and cinema of the period. The third analyses the prequel trilogy and where exactly George Lucas went wrong (which might feel redundant if it wasn't then illuminated by a conversation between Pegg and Lucas at the end which features Lucas's eye-popping admission that he shouldn't have been making the same movie over and over again for thirty years). These sections are great, contrasting Pegg as the young kid exposed to this huge, zeitgeist-defining shift in pop culture and as the older adult confronting a cynical marketing and toy-selling exercise. A further chapter where Pegg recollects his friendship with Nick Frost and their frequent patronage of a local pub is also brilliant, as we start seeing the genesis of Shaun of the Dead in the duo's refusal to try other hostelries. There's also some solid anecdotage here, such as the time they invited Gillian Anderson to join them for an X-Files-themed pub quizz night and knew more about the show than she did, or when they convinced Chris Martin of Coldplay to let the pub have the band's second album for the jukebox weeks before its official release.

Similar gems are sprinkled through the book, such as the time Pegg and (frequent collaborator and director) Edgar Wright won an argument with a mickey-taking Quentin Tarantino, or when Pegg donned a Batman Joker mask to traverse Comic-Con to get stuff signed without being stopped by Shaun of the Dead fans, but the good stuff is few and far between. Pegg, somewhat bafflingly, says that he can't get into the nuts and bolts of his professional career without risking offending anyone. As a result, we get only a small amount of writing about Shaun of the Dead, a little on Spaced and his new movie, Paul, and virtually nothing on Hot Fuzz. Given that the latter film was much-inspired by Pegg and Wright's Gloucestershire upbringing and could have been thematically linked to the earlier formative recollections, this feels like a missed opportunity.

Every few chapters Pegg drops in a chapter from a non-existent novel in which Simon Pegg, international agent provocateur, the best-dressed man in Europe and lover extraordinaire, battles the machinations of an evil enemy with the assistance of his robot butler and bodyguard Canterbury (absolutely not based on Threepio from Star Wars, apparently) whilst being frustrated by his inability to quote from The Shawshank Redemption correctly. These sections are amusing, but thankfully brief, given their reliance on the same few jokes.

Nerd Do Well (***) is readable and somewhat entertaining, but also disappointing: the author doesn't really talk about the things that made him famous and his life story is pretty straightforward with no major drama to recount. As such it's a fun but disposable read crying out for a much more in-depth sequel. The book is available now in the UK and in June 2011 in the USA.
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on 25 January 2011
In this autobiography, Simon Pegg, star and writer of Spaced, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, and of course the new Scotty in Star Trek, tells the story of his life so far, and another, more random and probably fictitious, story in which he is a superhero with a robot butler.

This is very much a book of Pegg's life rather than a memoir of his career. The focus is very much on Pegg's influences and how he came to be then man he is, and there is very little in the way of anecdotes about his work. The two most obvious obsessions are Star Wars and zombies, both of which he talks about a lot. The book could almost be the story of how 'Shaun' came to be - that is the element of Pegg's work that receives the most page time, and readers who are only interested in his Trek connection will be disappointed by his bare mention of it.

The tone is surprisingly candid, with Pegg exploring much of his childhood and early relationships, as well as that which he had with the screen. While there is a lot of name dropping, it's not done in an egotistical 'look who I had dinner with' way, but more of a geeky 'omg I met... Wow!'.

I've enjoyed the time I've spent reading this, and I think anyone who is a fan of Pegg's comedy work will feel the same. Especially zombies.
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on 7 January 2011
having always been quite a fan of spaced, shaun and the like, i was quite excited to pick up simon pegg's biography, but its very insubstantial. i thought the first warning sign was when he mentioned he a, was very private and didnt like talking about himself, and b, he didnt have a burning desire to write a autobiography, it was more that the publisher offered.

a great deal (maybe 80-90%) of the book is based on his childhood, and uni years, and only a very slender amount towards the end actually covers the tv shows and movies that most people would be reading this book for. it just seems very sparse, yet padded.

i didnt hate it, it was funny, but i wasnt racing to pick it up either.
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on 16 February 2011
Whilst a big fan of Simon's work in TV and films and his bromance with Nick Frost, I found this book to be ultimately disappointing.
Firstly, a word of warning- if you are not that in to star wars or like me, see it as a well made film for its time but nevertheless, a tad over-rated, then much of this book will annoy you. He harps on and on about star wars and goes into thesis type review of the meanings behind the film etc. I am a self-confessed film buff but this just went on a bit.
Also, intercutting the chapters with a spoof Bond-style story of Pegg's own creation seemed both distracting and a tad self-indulgent.
I was hoping to learn more about behind the scenes and the making of spaced, sean, hot fuzz etc but very little of the book is about that.
Be careful what you are after here if looking to purchase- if you want a book telling you about Simon's childhood and uni years and if you love star wars, you'll like the book. If, like me, you wanted to know more about his professional life and background to the shows and have average opinions about star wars, probably not for you.
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VINE VOICEon 3 February 2012
There are at least two kinds of autobiographies: the ghost-written, orange-tanned "Heat" celebrities who are famous for being famous and then there is the Sir Ranulph Fiennes type , who have a lifetime of honourable achievement to look back and reflect upon. While not at the level of the former, Simon Pegg's Nerd Do Well certainly isn't in the latter camp either.

It takes a special kind of conceitedness to have written an autobiography by the time you are forty (albeit not achieving Kenneth Branagh-levels of self-satisfaction). Perhaps Simon Pegg is marking the end of a significant chapter of his life and the beginning of a new one. Regardless, Nerd Do Well is a lightweight but entertaining, nostalgic journey of fairly average abilities of self-discovery, couched in an ironic, self-effacing manner.

The first two thirds of this book are mostly entertaining, concerning as they do a young lad's formative experiences growing up in a small English country town and the whole rites-de-passage thing (or right of passage, as the French would say). The final third is essentially the same celebrity anecdote repeated with variations: "And then I met [famous name] - if only my younger self could see me now, he would probably soil himself!" So we get to hear about Pegg visiting the mall where Dawn of the Dead was filmed, meeting actors from Star Wars and that kind of thing.

Intercutting all this is a funny piece of deliberately bad science fiction in which Pegg the rugged action hero (along with his faithful gold robotic butler, Canterbury, who is nothing at all like CP30), foils the overly elaborate plot of some fiendish criminal mastermind.

It seems that some readers are unhappy that there is not much information about the making of Spaced et al but I would suggest that the dvds have more than enough material covering this facet of Pegg's life.

That said, if you enjoy Simon Pegg's authorial voice, you'll find a lot that tickles you in his modest autobiography. Witty and diverting, Nerd Do Well is a quick and easy read, in the same vein as Peter Kay's The Sound of Laughter.
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on 28 August 2013
I feel slightly uncomfortable at given the option to rate someone else's memoirs , to have the option to rate 1 to 5 stars on essentially what is a snapshot if someone else's life , I mean what is it for anyone else to say oh well done 5 stars for your life it was brilliant or no sorry you only get one star I disagree with your life decisions!

So before I begin reviewing I want to thank you mr pegg for allowing us readers an insight into your life and being a true inspiration to nerds and starwars fans alike and also fans of your work not least spaced and Shaun of the dead. For me by the way spaced captures well the 90's and the special memories that encapsulate it (iPhone spell correction )

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and was nice actually to draw on so many shared opinions (especially on Star Wars) and also the epic fail of 1 2 and 3 but also the cross analysis of why they were what they were.

I found when reading this I was surprised to find the first 60 or so percent concentrated almost entirely on childhood and it did make me anxious (guiltily) of getting to the Simon pegg actor filmmaker and an insight into the creative work. That said once that fulfilled my fan curiosity and interest I was then more intrigued to know about childhood experiences so I think that this almost would've worked better being back to front - adult then to childhood - to go completely against the grain ( I don't know if its ever been done before but feel almost as if it would really work). Getting to know the bits you want to then maybe divulging more about the background of such an influential actor - like a first date with someone you've admired for a while you'd want to know more about what they do etc before being regailled with childhood memories and not to jump in with that and weird the other person out.

That's just my opinion and being intrigued by some of the other reviews. That being said I thoroughly enjoyed reading and thoroughly enjoy the work of Simon pegg + also ultimately nick frost who in my opinion are the two best actors to come from our beloved England (not to mention recent film at worlds end which hit a personal note with me getting older and looking back at my youth and even reuniting old friends).

To sum it up - a brilliant read from an exceptionally talented person - please do not stop making films and thank you for a personal insight and sharing that with fans of your work

Rob
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