Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
|Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: While the actress has certainly been more universally endearing in some films than others, here she opens herself up warts and all to discuss her life both past and present. But is she playing a role here?|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: May 2017|
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK|
Celebrity autobiographies. It's a genre long tainted by the examples of people who clearly didn't deserve to be a celebrity, let alone have a ghost-writer create their book, and by those who did so little but managed to churn out five memoirs before they were even thirty. But more recently it's become a way of staking a claim to importance for female comics. They've not all written autobiographies, as Bridget Christie proved, but enough have to provide for a rapidly-filling shelf at the bookstore. 2016 we had Amy Schumer winning a GoodReads award, Lena Dunham's been at it, and we've also got Anna Kendrick. Now she's not a strict comic – not all of her films are designed to make you laugh, and some of them that are just don't – but this has to be in the same bracket.
Part of that is the self-deprecation she shares, which includes the awkward and awkwardly-dressed portrait on the cover, to the title, to just about every page here. She's not at all shy at letting you know she was flat-chested and a late developer, hadn't done very well as regards relationships, and was (and indeed still is) crippled by self-doubt or self-criticism. Even when I got nominated for an Oscar, I was still just an anxious, jaded procrastinator.
This being from someone whose career you can follow by imdb credits, it's pretty much all in chronological order. We start with Anna's first forays into stage work, and the adverts she tried to get gigs on, her parents taking six hours out of their day to drive her to a ten-minute New York reading, ready for a six hour drive back home. LA finds herself failing to realise what LA is like, and herself failing to live up to the self-advertising she used to procure a home, before eventually the career starts to take off to such an extent she can discuss each major work's effect in detail. That doesn't form the be-all-and-end-all however, as we get what life lessons she takes from a party, and several non-existent parties of her own design.
You get candid looks at the press junket, and how a young naif first hacks the clothes-horse aspect of the job. But you also get a lot more from Anna about Anna – the discussions of her first sexual fumblings are not what you'd ever have got from the traditional Hollywood book way back when. But on the whole, what you do get is a little beige, repetitive and only initially surprising – any psychiatrist would get papers out of the balance between Kendrick's constant self-denigration and her 'look-at-me' career, and she never successfully steps back away from what she's thought, or written here, and worked out what it really says. This is a woman, after all, who protests to years of early-adult poverty yet seems to have been on the weed (if not more) every day she wasn't working.
You end up wondering just how much of this self-ignorance is archly put-upon, and how self-aware the book and its author really are. The book, at once both a straight memoir and a collection of more essay-styled chapters, does seem to suffer at times from being a splurge – a mess of slang, swear words and strictly-US-only cultural references. But it is also an honest-seeming and patently heartfelt look at the silver screen industry from someone who may well be a top name in it for years to come.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
Who I Am by Charlotte Rampling, Christophe Bataille and William Hobson (translator) takes you some small way back to the more classical Hollywood years.
You can read more book reviews or buy Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.