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REVIEW — Tough Sh*t by Kevin Smith

Posted March 14th 2012 by Frankie Aguilar.

Book Review - Tough Sh*t by Kevin Smith

For anyone unfamiliar with Kevin Smith, hearing him speak or reading anything written by him for the first time can be a jarring experience. Mr. Smith is a curt and unfiltered gentleman, prone to penis metaphors and graphic, if not romantic, depictions of his wife's nether regions. At the end of the day, above all else, the dude is honest. There may not be a more transparent "celebrity" in the realm of public awareness. And that transparency, along with foul-mouthed philosophy, is on display in his latest book, the quasi-advice tome: Tough Sh*t. Equal parts salient memoir, stream of consciousness and nerd success blueprint, the book is quintessential Kevin Smith. Filled to the bindings with anecdotal evidence of his rise from New Jersey–bred obscurity through the ranks of the indie movie zeitgeist, Smith is here to let you know that it wasn't easy: it was tough shit.

Tough Sh*t begins, not surprisingly, with an ode to Smith's dad's balls. If you think that's a great (if not gross) way to start a book, the entire thing is dedicated in part to his wife's brown eye. But as Smith is apt to do, he turns what could be disregarded as sophomoric toilet humor into a sentimental and metaphorically sound treatise. He goes on to wrap all the love he has for his father, and the appreciation for the foundation he laid, amongst a very altruistic account of how we're all winners from birth because we were all the fastest sperm. A sort of "anything I did you can do, too" idea born from the fact the we're all the same from the beginning. It's weirdly eloquent in a way. Even though the words might come across as crass or uncultured, the message is earnest and heartfelt.

The rest of the book is split up into chapters that feel like blog posts. A feeling of synergy is generated from this format, each chapter strong enough to stand alone while remaining integral to the overall message. It really has the feel of a Kevin Smith written script, the verbiage heady and relatable at the same time.

The book reads pretty chronologically, with bits and pieces of foreshadowing for scene-setting purposes, and each chapter, more or less, contains a conclusion paragraph that sums up the overall sentiment of why everything Smith just said was tough shit. Not the most in-depth way of getting points across, but the man knows how to write to his audience—something that he talks about in the book. Smith is aware that the people that are most likely to read this book are fans of his to begin with, so the shared lingo and syntax doesn't need to wax poetic. Although, there is a certain panache a writer must have to numb the shock value of genital jokes.

Smith really covers a lot of ground for a 250-page book. From his genesis with the Weinsteins to his marijuana-propelled direction of Zach and Miri Make a Porno and Cop Out to his duels with Southwest Airlines and the Westboro Church, Kevin Smith has accomplished a great deal. And he's still doing work, although he says his forthcoming Hit Somebody will be his last film. Directors aren't really known for coming out of proclaimed retirement, but the amount of media that Kevin Smith is attached to, I'm sure he'll be around.

It's hard for most nerds to not be jealous of Kevin Smith. I think it's even harder for Kevin Smith not to be jealous of himself. He probably has "Once in a Lifetime" by the Talking Heads playing looped somewhere in the back of his mind. A celebrated director who has almost exclusively made his own movies the way he's wanted to make them, Smith is a model for the self-made super nerd. He's written comics for the big two (Marvel and DC), owns a chain of comic shops, and does speaking tours and podcasts, all while managing to keep a family. Reading through his memoirs, a sense of swagger can be gleaned from his bluster and bombast. But his utter awe and thankfulness for his own success shines through to that nerdy kid from Jersey whose only dream was to do what he loved: make movies. And he'd probably find a terribly brilliant way of saying "fuck off"  to anyone that had a problem with that.


This review was based on an advance copy received from Penguin Publishing. Tough Sh*t is available at bookstores on March 20th. Enhanced e-books will also be available March 20th through Amazon, Apple, and Barnes & Noble websites.


Tags: books, kevin smith, movies, Comics, hit somebody

Posted in: Reviews, Entertainment

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