Toward the end of the hilarious memoir My Booky Wook, Russell Brand — the British comedian, Forgetting Sarah Marshall star, and recovering heroin addict — archly ruminates on what he describes as the ”’to my shame’ technique.” ”You can get away with any admission, however appalling,” he explains helpfully, ”so long as it’s preceded by the words ‘to my shame.”’
Brand has done a lot of things he should be ashamed of. Or, at least, a lot of things that people think he should be ashamed of. while hosting last September’s MTV Video Music awards, he called President Bush a ”retarded cowboy.” The following month, on a BBC radio show, he and another broadcaster left a series of messages on the voicemail of septuagenarian Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs talking about the fact that Brand had had sex with Sachs’ granddaughter. The BBC suspended Brand, but thanks to the resulting media firestorm, he is now one of the most famous individuals in Britain. That, one suspects, probably delights a man who in these pages admits to an ambition ”beyond the designs of the Third Reich.”
Certainly, this child of a broken home has always enjoyed raising eyebrows. Looking back on his childhood, Brand recalls the time he drew a face on his penis for the amusement of his school chums. He also describes the shocking occasion, many years later, when he went to work at MTV Europe dressed as Osama bin Laden. the date? Sept. 12, 2001.
Many will find Brand to be a somewhat reprehensible character — but he’s definitely a funny writer. My Booky Wook is a richly detailed memoir that’s peppered with both evocative descriptions of the author’s homeland and memorable lines such as ”It is my personal belief that you cannot consider your life complete until you’ve been indoor go-kart racing with twenty junkies.” The book concludes in 2005 with the author still a barely known figure, even in the U.K. But Brand promises here another tome ”about how it feels to be famous.” To my shame, I can’t wait. A?