Russell Brand grew up in Essex. His father left when he was three months old, he was bulimic at 12 and left school at 16 to study at the Italia Conti stage school.
There, he began drinking heavily and taking drugs. He regularly visited prostitutes in Soho, began cutting himself, took drugs on stage during his stand-up shows, and even set himself on fire while on crack cocaine.
He has been arrested 11 times and fired from 3 different jobs - including from XFM and MTV - and he claims to have slept with over 2,000 women.
In 2003 Russell was told that he would be in prison, in a mental hospital or dead within six months unless he went in to rehab.
He has now been clean for three years. In 2006 his presenting career took off, and he hosted the NME awards as well as his own MTV show, 1 Leicester Square, plus Big Brother's Big Mouth on Channel 4.
His UK stand-up tour was sold out and his BBC Radio 6 show became a cult phenomenon, the second most popular podcast of the year after Ricky Gervais.
He was awarded Time Out's Stand Up Comedian of the Year and won Best Newcomer at the British Comedy Awards. In 2007 Russell hosted both the Brit Awards and Comic Relief, and continued to front Big Brother's Big Mouth.
His BBC2 radio podcast became the UK's most popular.
Russell writes a weekly football column in the Guardian and is the patron of Focus 12, a charity helping people with alcohol and substance misuse.
He also hosts a podcast, Under the Skin, in which he delves below the surface of modern society.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 416 pages, 45 colour
- Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
- Publication Date: 10/07/2008
- Category: Television
- ISBN: 9780340936177
- EPUB from £5.99
Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews.
Review by Booksloth
Can I just start by saying that, as a rule, I go out of my way to avoid 'celebrity' biogs? What on earth makes these tedious people think I want to read their ghost-written tales of the childhood trauma of once having been called Piggy in the playground I simply can't imagine.Add to that the chances of me liking the kind of person who admits to having stolen from friends and family, treated almost every woman he has ever known abominably and thrown away the kind of talent most of us would sacrifice a limb for on hard drugs, alcohol and casually mindless sex, and you'll see that the signs were never good for my enjoyment of this book.And yet the autobiography of British comedy's prettiest star, Russell Brand, is just like the man himself - potentially deeply irritating yet oddly engaging. Although no ghost-writer is credited , that isn't what immediately convinces me that My Booky Wook is all Russell's own work. Not only does the voice of the author ring entirely of Brand's own voice - he is far too proud (arrogant, some might say) of his talent to allow anyone else to steal even a ghost-writer's share of his thunder.So he's arrogant, selfish, dangerous and out of control. The adjective 'Byronic' is too easy a cop-out. And yet, Brand is not like the rest of us: while most of us would only need one of those flaws to guarantee a life of unpopularity - in Brand, if anything, each adds to his charm. It's jolly unfair and yet, in reading this book, I began to understand why it is so. There's something so nakedly honest in Brand's evaluation of his own failings and so courageous in the way he relates the story of a what must have been a pretty tough childhood with humour, understanding and a complete lack of self-pity that makes him impossible to dislike.Blessed with looks, immense charm and a huge comic talent Brand spent most of his early showbiz years with his finger firmly on the self-destruct button. Every time someone spotted and tried to nurture that talent his natural reaction was to sabotage everything with one or other of the addictions he seems to have fallen on like a contestant on a Cilla Black show confronted with with their adopted child.It could have been a tragic waste of a life and yet Russell was lucky enough to have the kind of good friends who refused to let him go under and after a number of arrests and a similar number of sackings, he attended rehab for both drug and sex addiction, and finally got his life back on course again. I think one of the greatest charms of this thoroughly likeable man is his almost-casual tolerance of the rest of the world and the people in it. During the journey related in My Booky Wook, he meets and spends time with homeless people, other addicts, even paedophiles and somehow manages to find a good side in every one of them Perhaps this is what makes the reader so reluctant to judge Russell's own failings. Though many of his problems may have been self-inflicted, we keep wishing him the best and are genuinely happy when, by the end of the book (which, though I probably don't need to mention this in the light of his comedy career, is also hilarious) he really seems to be in a much calmer and happier place. I for one, really hope that continues for him.
Review by EddieWinslow
Overall, a fairly entertaining memoir from Brand about his sketchy past. More than a few parts had me laughing out loud, but I think the book may have been a bit longer than it needed to be. That being said however, he actually did not go into as much detail as I had expected about his drug addiction; a fact that I found mildly disappointing. Pretty funny and enjoyable book.
Review by kat2302
I've never been interested in Russell Brand. I don't find his stand up humour to be very funny and at time he can be quite irritating.Out of curiousity I read My Booky Wook and found it to be a very honest and shocking read. He describes his antics and previous drug addictions in a matter of fact way and uses them as an explanation for his outrageous behaviour. Having said that, it is a good read. It's worth reading once so that you can understand his wild nature and you do look at him with fresh eyes having known where he came from and what his history his. At times it can be quite funny and other times you're in shock reading about his escapades but it is in essence a good read.
Review by elliepotten
Russell Brand is a bit like Marmite - people seem to either love him or hate him. Perhaps this autobiography will help to convert those who seek to dismiss Brand as a flamboyant, egotistic idiot (if, that is, they can see past the simplistic title which is, in fact, a reference to 'The Clockwork Orange').This autobiography charts Brand's childhood in Essex, in a loving but occasionally misguided family, and his troubled school life. He was a loner, an outsider, and always felt - indeed, sought - to be different from his peers, to set himself apart. Unfortunately, even when his 'Eureka!' moment arrived and he realised he wanted to be a showbiz star, this need to be different manifested itself in troublesome forms which ended in a string of expulsions from various academic and dramatic institutions. Falling in with some interesting characters at school, Brand turned for the first time to drugs and alcohol. As the years went by he added sex to his repertoire, and progressed to harder drugs and more trouble, being fired from job after job, being arrested and released over and over again, and making his way through a string of girlfriends and prostitutes. Ultimately, it came to a choice between drugs and rehab, life and death - and thankfully, with a bit of persuasion from those around him, he chose life. At last, clean and sober (and having spent some interesting time in sex addiction rehab to boot), he was finally diagnosed with manic depression (hardly surprising to anyone with any experience with the illness), his career took off and Russell Brand, Dickensian dandy and charismatic charmer, became a household name in television, radio, movies and the comedy circuit.It's certainly a gripping and ultimately uplifting story. Brand is incredibly honest about every experience life has thrown at him - for example, he knows that drugs nearly ruined his life, but at the same time acknowledges that they offered much calm and comfort at the time. He doesn't hide his shameful moments, the most cringeworthy experiences of his life, but instead shares them and freely offers his judgement that they were stupid, unforgivable things to do. Not only is this an honest book, it is also well written (albeit with a few slips into that trademark Essex grammar), full of sharp insight, funny musings, a few wonderfully Brand-esque flights of language and a wealth of artistic, literary and cultural references that any professor would be proud of. Even in paperback there are also photos, letters and extracts from his rehab diaries, amongst other things, scattered throughout its pages, which helps put faces to names and in many cases brings a poignant reminder that these hellish experiences were very real.All in all, I was surprised by this book, even as a Brand fan. Having eagerly read Peter Kay's 'The Sound of Laughter' a while back and been disappointed by how his comedic style translated so badly onto the page, I was delighted to find that 'My Booky Wook' is readable, compelling and has Russell Brand written all over it in a way that adds to its appeal rather than detracting from it. It is vibrant, honest, sexy, moving and despairing in turn, with an ultimate message of hope and redemption which left a smile on my face. I just hope it will open some people's eyes to the man behind the persona, the man inside it, the man entwined with it, who shimmers through in interviews and whose existence is so much more complex than many people realise.
Review by h_d
I don't particularly care for the autobiographies of people who aren't dead, but since this reads as the autobiography of a person who could quite easily have been dead, it more or less fits my prerequisite for biography reading.<br/><br/>I find Russell Brand very funny. He has a smart and irreverent sense of humour, which is present in this well-written and not surprisingly erudite book. Brand talks candidly about his drug problems and sex addiction as well as his his formative years and thirst for fame.<br/><br/>You can't read this book without feeling a little sympathy for Brand as he just spirals further and further out of control, but you also can't escape really disliking this egotistical and self-destructive character who doesn't give a shit about the impact of his actions on others, or possibly doesn't care if he comes across as unapologetic. <br/><br/>Overall, it was a funny read and I still have a lot of time for Brand's off-kilter humour and think it's awesome that he's clean and sober and speaks out for addiction as an illness. The book certainly didn't make me dislike him (beyond certain moments). <br/><br/>Though, three stars because I can't seem to want to give it more than that.