It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Russell Brand. I know he’s kooky and weird and maybe a little overbearing…but I love him. I love his crazy hair, tight pants, charming accent and his whole schtick. I really love his vocabulary, too, which is often out of place on the MTV awards shows he hosts. But on the written page that brilliant vocabulary is perfection.
My Booky Wook: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs and Stand-Up might seem like tawdry fluff, but it is so much more. Yes, at 37 Brand has already lived a storied life, but the book doesn’t focus solely on his dark side. Verging on 400 pages, it might be a tad too long. I always groan through the childhood portions of celebrity memoirs. Brand’s was interesting enough, and certainly revealed the source of many of his problems. For instance, his father left him to be entertained by pornography starting at the age of seven and bought him his first prostitute at 17. Is that what led to his sex addiction? I can’t answer that, but…yes. Probably.
Brand was a naughty kid before he was a naughty adult. Petty theft, cutting school, and the typical bad boy shenanigans transitioned into teenaged drinking and drugging. And then harder drinking and a heroin addiction into adulthood. There was no moment of rock bottom clarity, rather his consistent drive to make his career work was what ultimately saved him. A manager told him he had to go to rehab, he went, and that was it. But the tales in between were messy and numerous.
Many of the characters that come in and out of the book were homeless, and even at the height of his fame (before he cleaned up) he chose to spend his time in London’s worst hovels. Today he regularly helps the homeless in Hollywood, perhaps still feeling a kinship. While he doesn’t usually talk about his deeds, the paparazzi often catches him in the act.
And those surprises are part of Russell Brand’s lure. His unexpected good deeds. The parts of the book where he reveals poetry he wrote as a child, his love of animals, and the tender, quiet moments with his cat, Morrissey. His devotion to yoga and finding inner peace seem to be his way to quiet his demons.
Throughout this book there was not a whiff of preachiness. Written with humility and humor, Brand does not attempt to even say that his life is better now, merely that this is the direction it has taken. Obviously, his life is indeed better. It’s nice to read the shocking tales that were often funny and sometimes sad, knowing that he came out of it okay. It’s a guiltless pleasure. I will definitely read Booky Wook 2: This Time It’s Personal.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Katy Perry was not mentioned.