Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Bill Murray in alphabetical order

Bill Murray in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray by Robert Schnakenberg proves to be a show business biography in the form of a reference book. Schnakenberg tells the life of the popular actor, a star since he appeared on Saturday Night Live in the late '70s, not in chronological order but in alphabetical order, from About Last Night, a play in which he almost appeared, to Zombieland, a 2009 movie in which he had a cameo. Reading the book from cover to cover gives you Bill Murray's life story, but with the details shuffled like a deck of cards.

Bill Murray fans will love this book, although they may not love Murray himself quite as much after reading it, for Schnakenberg presents Murray warts and all. And there is no shortage of warts. Murray can be the most charming, most caring, most generous man in the world. Or he can be the most difficult, most obnoxious, most rude. It just depends on the mood he happens to be in, and with his fame and his talent, he can afford to follow his moods wherever they take him. He will continue to be in demand as an actor, whether for starring roles or for small supporting parts, however he choose to behave. He is said to be almost impossible to reach, yet somehow he still manages to appear in several movies each year.

Schnakenberg's entries tend to be brief and nicely illustrated, mostly with movie stills. Every so often he presents "Tales from Murrayland," a series of 28 episodes from Murray's life that describe the man behind the movie screen. In 2010, for example, Murray attended a festival in Austin and took over bartending duties, while refusing to serve anything but shots of tequila.

The book is jammed with such Bill Murray trivia, perhaps even more than one could find in a more traditional biography.

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