Silent Bob Speaks: The Collected Writings of Kevin Smith
by Kevin Smith
Review by Iain Emsley
Titan Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 1845760808
Date: 23 May, 2005 List Price £9.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Silent Bob Speaks is a strange collection. It covers a gamut of subjects from Jersey Girl to comics and Degrassi Junior High through to Smith's obsessions - from Ben Affleck to, er, Ben Affleck and New Jersey.
It is a collection of his pieces from Arena, Film Comment and Details and as such there are inconsistencies in quality (who doesn't face that problem!). Bare with the book, there are some useful insights into the film world and some wonderful gossip. Smith is a wonderful fish wife when it comes to tales.
The book starts with the diary for casting Jersey Girl and it's an intriguing insight into the world, from Reese Witherspoon to Eliza Dukshu to the various processes of casting. Things go well and things go badly but Smith delivers the story in deadpan fashion, kind of like a Silent Bob moment. The one time that his calm really breaks is when he discusses Ben Affleck, or should I say worships him. Affleck has stood by him since Mallrats and Smith brings out the human side of him that the public rarely sees. This is Smith's genius - he sees the person and the quirks. That's what makes his films so watchable -okay I might have to bend this slightly for Mallrats and Jersey Girl but it is still there!
The most intriguing parts are the essays in parts two and three that reveal insights into New Jersey, comics and his life. You may not agree with his discussions of Spider-Man and Mulholland Drive but he makes the reader think. The most interesting pieces are the ones on morbid obesity since they reveal the most about Smith as a human but they also show the weakness of the perpetual dick and fart joke. They do only have a finite lifespan and perhaps Smith pushes it a little far here with the side effects of the drugs, "say, reader, would you like a chocolate covered pretzel?" Again, though, he brings the very human quirks out in the everyday, such as watching television and coming to the same epiphany of adults.
Smith comes across as a prepubescent boy, and in the main, this is fine. There is joie de vivre tempered with joy. There is irreverence and provocative thought throughout which makes it an eminently readable book. Though it will be mainly be picked up by his fans, the book ought to be bought by fans of independent film-making for the introduction alone.