Review: Tough Sh*t by Kevin Smith

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Tough Sh*t by Kevin Smith was released in 2012 by Gotham Books.

“I am a product of Don Smith’s balls. That’s important to establish and acknowledge right off the bat…because Dad’s balls have been…too rarely celebrated.”

These opening lines set the tone for Kevin Smith’s new memoir, Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good. Any fan of Kevin Smith will immediately feel right at home with his fondness for four letter words, his homage to the sanctity of bodily fluids, and his easy dialogue with fans.

Jersey boy Kevin Smith has led a filmmaker’s wet dream, dabbling first in small productions like Clerks, which launched his career, to directing Bruce Willis in Cop Out and then producing his own feature films including Red State. He regularly performs live comedy shows, produces podcasts involving improv with his friends, and at the end of his entertaining and provocative career, he gets to quit.

There’s plenty of Hollywood gossip, including Bruce Willis’ true nature (not pleasant), and the Weinstein brother’s rise in the independent film industry to their fall into commercialized pop movies. Smith holds nothing back in both his praise and his criticism, his emotion often overshadowing the telling.

His experience with Southwest Airlines, when he was labeled “too fat to fly,” and Smith’s own confusion and embarrassment made headlines in ways no one wants. Smith proves any publicity is not always good publicity as he details the experience with painful clarity.

Particularly engaging are the final chapters describing how he met his wife. While it would be a stretch to call them endearing – his ongoing references to bodily fluids and his wife’s derrière keep the tone from being too serious – there is a charming, poignant story behind his comedy that comes through. He might be a man of words, but he’s also a man in complete and total love with his wife and child.

It’s tough to criticize a book like Tough Sh*t. Smith is known for his sharp insights into human nature and spot-on dialogue. He’s not known for his essays. On one hand, it’s Kevin Smith’s writing at its best: hilarious editorializing and surprisingly sweet mentions of friends and family members who’ve made a difference in his life, and as always, love for his fans first and foremost. It’s also his worst: he often jumps back and forth between the event he’s describing, what came before it, and then rushes into what came after, then returns to finish telling the story. Often I had to reread a page to figure out what really happened.  But it’s a book for his fans, of which I am admittedly a member. While a closer editing would have made it more readable, it might have destroyed the spirit that is the man.

This book is a great read for those interested in film, both the industry and the process of making a movie, people who enjoy comedy that breaks the PG13 rating, and of course, for Kevin Smith’s fans.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Ally Bishop is reviews editor for Hippocampus Magazine. She has an M.A. in creative writing from Wilkes University and has published in local newspapers and blogs. She’s also hard at work on her WIP, a mystery novel.

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