Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Experiencial Review, On "Size Matters Not"

I have enjoyed Warwick Davis' acting since Return of the Jedi, and the two made-for-TV Ewok movies, but didn't know who he was until Willow. This was before the days of the Internet Movie Database, where I could easily look up every scrap of acting ever put on a recordable media. I saw Willow twice in the theaters - which, according to the IMDB, was released in 1988, making me 11 or 12 at the time; I enjoyed it enough that I even read the novelization (and wasn't so ashamed at reading Wayland Drew's book that I haven't listed it on my Goodreads Read List); when the film came to HBO I taped it, and would say I've watched it at least a dozen times. It was later when watching the credits to Return of the Jedi (for that was how you learned who acted in a film back in the day) that I found that Davis played the irascible young Ewok Wicket (personal geek trivia: recently while playing Draw Something with Mrs. Karaczewski, I drew a respectable looking Ewok, with a poorly drawn exploding Death Star II in the sky, with the name "Wicket" written to the side. It seemed like I'd made it too easy by adding the Wicket; after two days Mrs. Karaczewski needed some additional verbal clues before managing a guess, and gave me quite the look of incredulity about the Wicket clue).

I didn't see him in anything after Willow until Phantom Menace - I recognized him in the Leprechaun ads, but didn't see that until much later - and especially loved seeing his progression through each of the Harry Potter films.

Then, a couple of weeks ago I found a gap in my audiobook reading. I had just finished a string of series (The Dark Tower, then the Millennium Trilogy, then the Hunger Games Trilogy), had started looking into some noir detective novels, and didn't think that "The Postman Always Rings Twice"'s 3 discs would last until any of my holds came in, so I began trolling the library's audiobook stacks. I browsed through the whole U of shelves, to the autobiographies at the very end opposite to where I had started, where the title "Size Matters Not" leaped out, with "by Warwick Davis" following. I snatched it up, drawn to it in an inexpressibly instinctive way: I hadn't known it existed, but finding it held the joy as if I had been looking for it for years and had finally found it.

"Size Matters Not" is an autobiography of actor and little person Warwick Davis. The book follows his childhood up through 2010. Cast in "Return of the Jedi" at eleven, Davis' story is that of a child actor who grows up on movie sets and in a small English town.

I loved Davis' humorous tone throughout; it was obvious that he enjoyed writing his story, delighting in puns and tongue-in-cheek wordplay, which created an easy and engaging read. He presents his success in the acting profession as a mix of privilege, luck, and hard work - and by doing so, presents himself as a wonderful person to be around. He approaches the challenges and frustrations of being a little person (3'6") in a world designed for taller people with humor and cleverness.

Even when he encounters great tragedy in his family life, he expresses himself with grace and humility - and engendered such empathy in this reader by his simple eloquence that I had to pause the recording. I was in my classroom after school, listening while I entered grades, and I had to stop and breathe through my eyes misting up; I remember putting my hands over my eyes, as if to shut everything out for a while, as I couldn't help imagining how it would be to live through that ordeal. This section will hit parents especially hard.

Not often that a book makes me laugh out loud, and nearly cry. Can't wait for volume 2.

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