My Booky Wook 2: Book Review
Reviewed by tvnz.co.nz's Chris Hooper
In 2009, Russell Brand found himself at the centre of a media storm of Katrina proportions; one that threatened the very structure of the BBC itself, as the UK's rabid right-wing press sharpened their claws at the state broadcaster with a chilling sense of glee.
It's the biggest of several scandals that have stalked the preposterously coiffured comedian around the globe, and his new book(y wook) chronicles the tumultuous period in his life when fame came calling.
His first bestselling autobiography took the reader through a problematic childhood and his battles with addiction, as he took his first tentative steps into the limelight - doing so with wit and charm.
This new chapter continues in the same vein, revealing what happened next in the life of the notorious cad: his comments at the MTV VMAs that earned him death threats; his rampant womanising; his transition from digital TV presenter to Hollywood actor; his eventual engagement to Katy Perry; and, of course, Sachsgate.
When Brand made a series of radio prank phone calls to Andrew Sachs (Manuel from Fawlty Towers) about his fruity relationship with the actor's granddaughter (who happened to be part of a burlesque group The Satantic Sluts), the incident escalated with such fury in the tabloids that it led to the Prime Minister commenting in Parliament, and ensured his departure from his radio show - as well as the suspension of his celebrity cohort Jonathan Ross, and the resignation of the Radio 2 controller.
At the centre of this and other scandals, Brand comes across as surprisingly vulnerable. There's a boyish charm underneath everything he does; he's a man who carved out the ridiculous public persona, but who is also just a man who loves his mum, his cat, Morrissey (whose namesake makes a delightfully bitchy appearance at one point), and his extended entourage of misfits and delinquents.
He writes with an underlying sadness about his sexual escapades, with a sense of longing for something more meaningful that eventually arrives in the form of feisty Perry (though only a handful of pages are devoted to their actual relationship - perhaps Booky Wook 3 will fill in those blanks).
The unfortunate adolescent cover art by too-cool-for-school graphic artist Shepard Fairey notwithstanding, it's better than your average celebrity blahfest. Every page is dripping with Russell's brand of ornate, gothic cockney prose - and sentence after sentence reveals a playful delight in language.
Brand is first and foremost a comedian and it shows in the writing; I splutter-laughed my way through the book in just a couple of sittings. It's an autobiography that hasn't been near a ghost-writer, and is all the better for it.
My Booky Wook 2: This Time It's Personal, by Russell Brand