Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Booky Wook by Russell Brand

Or more accurately, A Darker and More Realistic Version of Tucker Max Stories. This book was vulgar yet profound, funny yet poignant, and I'm quite mixed on how I feel about it. On the one hand, you can't help but appreciate his honesty and his ability to make light of even his darkest days of heroin addiction. On the other hand, he's sometimes just too ridiculous. I just shook my head at some of the parts in this book, thinking "Well of course you ended up in jail/hospital/rehab, you're a complete mess!" Plus, there's that whole British thing... my inner voice couldn't help but read this book in a British accent, which made it a hundred times more amusing to read.

So here we go. I'm not going to really bother with a summary of this book; it chronicles his life from birth to its publication in 2007 (well, really up until whenever the deadline for it was, pre-editing and publishing. But I digress). Basically he's a whoring, drug-using, raving lunatic and we just can't help but love him for it now, several years sober (and again, Americans love the British. Sometimes I wonder why we even fought for our independence if we all want their accents and lifestyles. Again, I digress). He's abused alcohol, marijuana, heroin, crack, amphetamines, practically any illicit substances you can put in your system, he's done it. And not surprisingly, he almost destroyed his comedic career before it really had a chance to take off. The ending of this book especially was mostly just a chapter devoted to thank yous and dedications. Not that I blame him, he'd be in jail, a hospital, or a cemetery by now if it weren't for these people that care so deeply for him.

<-- Yep, that's right, Stereotypical psychoanalytic couch reference.

As a psychologist, and especially as a psych student taking a class on addictive behaviors this semester, I couldn't help but make some connections between Brand's childhood and his behaviors later in life. I won't bore you with all the details and theories, but just take his relationship with his parents. He wanted to impress and be closer to his father, and sure enough ended up a hyper-heterosexual with the libido of a jackrabbit, engaging in all sorts of debauchery to make his father proud. Kind of sick and twisted, but again, we accept it. And then there's his early relationships with women: his mother, and his nan. He was coddled and given intense amounts of attention and unquestioned love, and he managed to become obsessed with women, constantly seeking love through one night stands and short-lived relationships. I'm not sure about the sex addiction thing, mostly because I'm still not sure I believe in its existence, but he was constantly seeking female affection. Let the Oedipal complex talk begin.

This booky wook had two disadvantages in my opinion, the first just being the format itself. I read this on my Nook, and while I do love the convenience of being able to carry and read it everywhere, it was difficult having to wait till the end of the chapter to see the footnotes for that chapter. The pictures were badly formatted as well, although e-readers were much less common back in 2007, and this was hardly an issue when the book was published. My fault for reading it on Nook, obviously.

Second disadvantage comes with reading an autobiography by a comedian with a tragic life; you see where all his inspiration comes from. After reading Brand's story, it's pretty clear to me that he doesn't really act in any of the movies he's in; he truly is a recently sober vegetarian comedian addicted to sex, and struggling to maintain self-control every day of his life. Where's the acting? He's not portraying any different characters, he's just himself, on screen. Isn't the whole point of acting being somebody else on screen?

Maybe I'm being slightly overcritical. After all, any artist draws on their real-life experiences for their craft, and actors are no exception. It just would be nice to see a little variation in his acting roles, especially now knowing the (E) true (Hollywood) story of his life.. It was an interesting read regardless, and I'm not really one for nonfiction and memoirs. This might be the beginning of a beautiful relationship with the other sections of a bookstore..

- Justin

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