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Mostly Amusing Book

Kevin Smith turns blog into in-depth look inside his head

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By many standards, Kevin Smith is a successful filmmaker. His films do well from an accounting standard, tending to turn profits near and far, and the cultural effects of his work are profound, if not undisputed. His visibility has allowed him to snag high-profile projects in different fields, from executive-producing TV shows to taking bit roles in big-budget films like Live Free or Die Hard. Still, when all is said and done, his true gift is in writing. Even his most adoring fans would have to admit he's no visual stylist, but he's adept at crafting great dialogue and believable characters on the page. Thus, a collection of posts from his blog entitled My Boring-Ass Life would seem to be manna from above for View Askew fans. After reading the result, My Boring-Ass Life: The Uncomfortably Candid Diary of Kevin Smith, I'd have to say that would be affirmative. Mostly.

There's no doubt, page for page, that Smith is a witty, bawdy, enjoyable-to-read raconteur. His stories of family life and behind-the-scenes shenanigans on Hollywood projects (particularly his work on Catch and Release and Live Free or Die Hard) gave me quite a few laughs while reading it. While I don't think Smith is the voice of Generation X, he shares his voice with a lot of that demographic (as a member of that particular substrata, I feel capable of making such a judgment), and his work speaks to any number of people. Even though his circumstances may be a little bit beyond what most of we can relate to—just the money he spends on fast food or going out to eat, judging by the number of references to it, would make a pretty good salary here in the Gem State—Smith is never a jerk about his success; he comes across as humble, appreciative of his fortune and grateful to those who made it happen: His readership.

There are a few drawbacks to the book. The most obvious one: The boy needs an editor, badly. Not just in length (the book is 486 pages of small-print type ... holy eyestrain, Batman), but in thematic content. While I understand his desire to be complete and appreciate his openness about things that people usually don't talk about in public, I don't really need to hear about every time he relieves himself in the morning or how often he feels it necessary to masturbate to pictures of his missus (however, I congratulate him on keeping the attraction aspect of his marriage alive). It's not offensive, at least not to me (and probably not to anybody who has seen more than two of his films), but the sheer number of references calls attention to itself, instead of letting it be what it really is: background detail. It's clear that his life encompasses more (and even if it wasn't, a quick scan of IMDB would straighten that out), but you'd be hard-pressed to tell in spots.

Then again, maybe his life isn't more than that. Smith is a filmmaker, and as such, his life revolves around entertainment media. Thus, you'd expect most of the content to be about media, which it is. And yet ... after finishing the book, I was left with two impressions: A) that having a conversation with Smith would probably be a rewarding experience, and B) outside of movies and comics, there might not be an awful lot to talk about. Mind you, I enjoy talking movies and comics as much as the next geek, but there is a lot more than that out there. While Smith, the writer, seems like he would be capable of stepping outside that box, the material within the book doesn't overwhelm you with evidence to that extent.

However, when all is said and done, the pluses far outweigh the minuses, and even if you're not an uber film or comics geek, Smith's life is rendered in enough detail to make its perusal worth your time. My Boring-Ass Life may be a piss-poor title, but on balance, it's a funny, intelligent read. It probably won't expand your horizons or redefine your values, but you'll laugh a lot, and if you avoid the scarring caused by some of the more outre images therein (just guess), then no harm done.