Last year people went hysterical in Serbia over a book written by our famous actor, Žarko Laušević, who murdered a man by accident (?) some 15 years ago and spent some time in prison. It’s sort of a memoir. I was surprised and kind of judgmental of these silly people who rushed to the kiosks to get the book, because I couldn’t get why anyone would waste time reading a book by an ACTOR. What recommendations does he have for being read, other than being famous and having a handsome face? I acted as if everyone was crazy but me.
A year later, it’s my turn to blush, having to admit I’ve purchased a book written by an ACTOR. I’m not sure where I got this prejudice that actors can’t write. At least this one, whose book I’ve just read, convinced me of the contrary.
Russell Brand is a clown. He’s thirty seven years old, has been “cured” of drug, alcohol and sex addictions, is guilty of having tortured his dog in his childhood, recently divorced the singer Katie Perry, and is very funny. The reason I bought his book – My Booky Wook – is because I saw him in a few films playing episodic roles, and I found the things he was saying so funny, said in such an intriguing way, that I had to YouTube him. After I discovered that his interviews were equally funny as his movie lines, and very quick-brained and eloquent, I didn’t think twice before clicking “Buy now” when I found his memoir on half.com for only 0.75 cents. (This is supposed to manipulate the readers into thinking that I’d only bought it because of its cheap price ;).
OK, I admit I didn’t carefully read all 400 pages Russell Brand so diligently scribbled down while getting off addictions. After a while it got a little tedious reading all these names and situations he got into with MTV people and equipment. But the passages I did read with attention confirmed to me his great talent for words, his amazing sense of humor, and his great understanding of the world (or at least his pretending). I like the fact that he loves to read, his references to serious writers and philosophers (though he downplays his well read-ness all the time with comments like: how lucky it is that Hemingway or whoever wrote this on page one, otherwise Russell would never have known it) are spread throughout the book showing his understanding of literature, philosophy, politics, the world – or at least some understanding of it. Maybe I’m putting the bars low, because – and this is probably another stereotype – I wouldn’t expect young American actors to even have heard of, let alone read, P.B.Shelley or Rimbaud or Kerouac.
What I also liked about this book is that Russell never moralizes or judges or comments on the scandalous events he’s describing. The most horrible, vulgar things he’s done, and some even for MTV shows, are described as harmless little jokes. Somehow the vulgar and horrible lose the vulgarity through his voice. He has the skill of a poet, and also of a clown.
I can’t say I’d recommend this book to everyone, because I don’t think people who aren’t fans of either Russell or a good sentence would enjoy it too much. But I recognized a lot of value in it and am really happy he’s off drugs and young enough to continue making me laugh, either via YouTube interviews or movie roles made especially for him. (Who knows, maybe I’ll even read his next memoir… of course, only if it comes in a 0.75 cents version ;).
By the way, does anyone know what “wook” from “My booky wook” means? I couldn’t find the explanation; only in one place someone mentioned that Russell tried to evoke the invented language of Alex’s Clockwork Orange world, but I still don’t know what it MEANS.