The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray: A Critical Appreciation of the World’s Finest Actor
It’s pretty tough to write a bio of a famous person who’s become well known for curmudgeonness. Bill Murray notoriously doesn’t like to play by anyone’s rules, to the extent of replacing his agent with an answering machine at an 800 number. So Robert Schnakenberg, instead of interviewing him, put together a kind of nerd trivia encyclopedia, a volume with short entries arranged from A-Z on topics related to the star. (He’s previously done similar books on Christopher Walken and William Shatner.)
The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray: A Critical Appreciation of the World’s Finest Actor is a lot of fun to flip through. It’s handsomely designed, in color, with plenty of photos and pull-out quotes on slick, heavy paper. Schnakenberg has a list of his sources at the end, to establish how he put the book together without Murray’s involvement, along with more quotes (both by Murray and about him) and a filmography.
Each movie — especially the ones he’s best known for, such as Caddyshack and Ghostbusters — has a lengthy entry, complete with two star ratings: how good the movie is, and how important the film is to be seen by Murray fans. Longer anecdotes are titled “Tales From Murrayland”. Other entries are entertaining random bits, ranging though
- things Murray likes (including armagnac, mountains, and pickles)
- parts he didn’t get
- names of his roles
- people he’s worked with or has opinions about
- things Murray has memorable quotes about (such as South Carolina or tipping)
The clip style is well-suited for today’s audiences, particularly those with short attention spans or people used to reading this kind of thing online. I found the items that featured movies he turned down or otherwise didn’t appear in kind of pointless after a while — those tidbits might have been better grouped together as a list, since they’re not really about Murray (unless you want to envision alternate universes where he did star in King Ralph or Airplane!). Here’s a web piece that did just that.
The book can be superficial, but the casual fan will learn more about Murray’s off-screen life, particularly his love of the Chicago Cubs. For example, I didn’t know that he was such a fan of The Breakfast Club. It’s great pickup and putdown reading. (The publisher provided a review copy.)