Right off the bat I have to say I’m a huge Kevin Smith fan, I’ve enjoyed every movie of his I’ve seen (I’m yet to see the most recent two, Cop Out and Red State, but they’re on my LoveFilm list) and he’s kind of a hero of mine, so I was kind of target audience for this book, however, I think that even if you’re not a big fan of his before it’s still a very good book.
Sure, there are going to be things that take the non-fans a while to adjust too, mainly Smith’s nerdy, foul mouthed writing style. His way of littering his writing with curses and nods to old movies and pop songs may turn off many, but it works for me.
The book serves kind of as a weird hybrid of a memoir and a self-help book, with Smith going over events in his life and kind of explaining how these things have effected his world view, while also offering advice and serving to be oddly inspiring as well.
Smith approaches subjects like his marriage and the death of his father with touching honesty and warmth, and he’s extremely frank about his clashes with Hollywood figures like Bruce Willis and Harvey Weinstein. There’s never a joke too far away, but he does explore some serious issues and moments in his life and there’s genuine honesty, self deprecation and modesty throughout. Its the kind of writing I strive for, a mix of wit, integrity and emotion (I’ve even noticed that I’ve picked up his use of the word “cat” in my own writing).
Smith talks about the factors that led him to fold up the director’s chair, but it avoids becoming a bitter anti-Hollywood tirade and more a kind of self realization that he no longer has stories he needs to use cinema to tell and has found new ways to express his creativity. He’s chosen to focus on things like his live talks and his podcast network (find them here, they’re generally worth checking out) and there’s an encouraging, inspirational tone to the work with Smith telling his readers to go out and chase their dreams, using the “if I can do it, why can’t you?” argument and it really worked on me, as its made me want to try my hand at writing again and maybe even have a go at making some short movies again.
I tore through the book at a rate of knots on a long train journey, and I’m usually the kind of cat who can only read for an hour or so at a time, but I think I read for almost all of the 5 hours I was on the train and eagerly went back to finish it off the next day, it’s that entertaining and life affirming. And throughout I was smiling and chuckling to myself.
Verdict: A wonderfully written, entertainingly vulgar piece of work that serves to fill us in on Smith’s decision to move away from directing and also serves to fire up the creative urge in his readers. Its not for everyone, but it’s definitely worth checking out, even for those not enamored with his movies. 9/10
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.