Celebrities get a ton of extra points from me when they not only write their own memoir, but they write it well. Russell Brand is an awesome writer. If you’ve seen his stand up, it’s not surprising, but still, it’s a treat that it translates so well to the page. His footnotes for Americans are helpful and hilarious and the entire book reads incredibly well.
Brand reconstructs his life and doesn’t gloss over any of the ugly bits. He is surrounded by chaos and creates even more. You can see the path that leads him to heroin and I wondered what would have had to happen for him to avoid it. Between his personality, his environment and his work, it’s one of those sad cases where it almost felt like he had to become an addict. I hate when people make the fame/drug connection and give artists a pass because they can’t be great unless they are tortured, but there does seem to be some truth there. However, Brand is sober now and awesome and funny and entertaining, so clearly it isn’t the drugs and nearly non-stop sex that fuels it. (Well, I don’t know what’s happening between him and Katy Perry, so maybe there is a lot of non-stop sex happening…)
I didn’t know anything about his career and I enjoyed learning about his rise and how his addictions and bi-polar personality drove nearly everything. Obviously he wouldn’t have succeeded without talent, but the madness propelled the ship. He realizes that the people around him pushed him to keep up the levels of insanity but then cut him loose when he went too far, even though they shoved him those extra few steps. It’s confusing and everyone is selfish, and yet he came out clean because of people around him.
I feel like he didn’t write this book because he figured he was famous enough to make more money. Instead, he had something he wanted to say and share, so he sat down and did it. While I imagine he would have been crushed if no one bought it, I don’t think he did it to make the top ten lists. He’s learned from his life and wants to put it out there.
I’m looking forward to picking up the second installment. He’s a good writer and he has plenty of material.