The Royal Nonesuch, by Glasgow Phillips

nonesuchBack in mid-September, Philip and I moved to our new abode, across town. We spent a couple weeks packing up and one of the first things to get packed was my library. Of course we managed to pack up all my books and in the meantime I ran out of reading material. Almost 9 months pregnant and desperate for a new book to read, I decided to risk life and limb by venturing into the garage, which was stacked over 6 feet high with an assortment of boxes. While they were labeled, stupidly I’d decided it was wise to put the labels on top of the box instead of on the side, which meant that any attempt to find out what was in a particular box necessitated physically moving every box on top of it. At 35 weeks pregnant, this was a pretty dumb thing to be attempting, as even I’ll admit. As luck would have it, I did come across a box containing books fairly quickly and I made a deal with myself: I had to read whichever book I pulled out first that I hadn’t yet read (otherwise I’d get all picky and start trying to move boxes around to find just the right book). The first book I pulled that met this criterion was a biography called The Royal Nonesuch, an advance proof copy that I’d been given by a former roommate who worked for a publishing company. Looking at the cover,  I had no idea why on earth I’d taken this book. I had no clue who Glasgow Phillips is and the cover of the book is startlingly ugly, containing a cartoon portrait of a bald man wearing aviator glasses who I can only assume is Glasgow himself, above a raunchy cartoon of a stripper dangling a bill in front of her crotch. Honouring the deal I made with myself, I decided to give the book a try.

Against all odds, I not only finished The Royal Nonesuch in about 3 weeks, but I will confess to somewhat enjoying it. I still have no real idea who Glasgow Phillips is, however. All I know is that he is friends with the guys who created South Park. He really is an unknown, which made reading this biography actually kind of interesting. Phillips is an aimless guy in his late 20s, trying to make a career for himself in TV comedy. He recounts numerous creative attempts and there are some very amusing anecdotes. The writing is surprisingly decent and at times quite funny. On a less positive note, Phillips needs to work on his editing. There are far too many characters introduced and many of them are secondary to the main storyline; I found myself constantly flipping back pages trying to remember who a particular person was. Eventually I learned when to bother doing this: often a character was only involved in the story for a short time so if I couldn’t remember who he/she was, I’d just pretend I did and continue reading. Most of the biography recounts raucous parties and demented characters (notably a bipolar homeless man named Timmy the Woodsman). The second half of the story becomes more poignant than the first as Phillips’ mother becomes seriously ill with a rare type of cancer. I was close to tears several times as Phillips describes the doctors visits and chemo treatments that she must undergo as he attempts to care for her while trying to get his career off the ground.

Overall I wouldn’t call this a satisfying read. I was satisfied in that I’d completed the book but aside from gaining a glimpse into what it’s like to live in LA and make an earnest attempt to make it big, I learned very little. What kept me reading was a desire to eventually figure out just who this guy was and if he did finally get himself a TV contract. I still don’t really know the answer to either of these questions.

 

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