Eric Idle recalls that when publishers approached Monty Python to do their first book, in the nineteen-seventies, “nobody was very interested.” Little seems to have changed, and this book was put together by Bob McCabe, a film critic, who interviewed the Pythons about life before, during, and after the TV show. The result could easily have felt warmed over, but in fact it’s consistently absorbing. The principals have obviously told their story too many times to bother with concealment, and are disarmingly frank about their frequent disagreements and rows. Accompanying the text are hundreds of photographs, including many unfamiliar ones from private collections—backstage shots and shots of school plays, cricket teams, and university revues. Such is the legacy of the show that the pictures of the Pythons’ schools and touchingly ordinary-seeming parents look as if they had come out of Monty Python sketches.
Plenty of the anecdotes here have been told before, but the Pythons are such entertaining talkers that it doesn't really matter. And the book comes loaded with a thousand photographs -- so many that you can only wonder why the publisher included so few pictures of the boys' magnificent sidekick, Carol Cleveland. David Kelly
This massive autobiography/oral history offers a full literary meal about the irreverent Python troupe and an equally satisfying wealth of photos covering childhoods, weddings, film and TV appearances. It opens with members Michael Palin, Eric Idle, John Cleese and Terry Gilliam supplying witty commentaries about their collaborators, then follows with the foursome-plus Terry Young-profiling themselves. Graham Chapman, who died in 1989, comes alive through sparkling reminiscences by his longtime partner, David Sherlock. The groundbreaking sextet first captured attention through David Frost's The Frost Report in 1966 and became comedy cult kings with the BBC series Monty Python's Flying Circus. The accounts and accompanying photographs regarding their experiences and conflicts on Circus and the subsequent motion pictures The Life of Brian, Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Meaning of Life are captivatingly honest closeups of the creative process; the reprinted postcards the gang sent Terry Jones from Amsterdam are priceless. "Dear Terry," reads one, "Graham is sitting on my right. On my left is an empty chair. Opposite sits John Goldstone & to his left (not mine) is Little John. To his left & slightly in front of him i.e. at the head of the table sits a silly little man who is in charge of us." Despite inevitable skirmishes, an open attitude prevailed that allowed everyone to express themselves freely: says Idle, "You could say anything-`I think that's crap'-and nobody would punch you and get upset." By book's end, readers will feel they know each Python intimately and marvel that six such different personalities could collaborate to produce such hilarious, scathingly subversive comedy. 1,000 color and b&w photos. (Oct. 7) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Santa's sled has pulled in early this year and left every naughty and nice boy and girl the definitive story of the preeminent English comedy consortium of our day, Monty Python. The surviving members of the group-John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin-collaborate with noted film critic Bob McCabe (Dark Knights and Holy Fools: The Art and Films of Terry Gilliam) to tell the Python story in this magnum opus of previously unpublished diary entries, interviews, and a sumptuous photographic buffet of more than 1000 images and illustrations. Designed much like the Beatles Anthology, the text is divided into seven sections that detail the Pythons, their biographies, life before their union, Monty Python's Flying Circus, the Python films, Graham Chapman's death, and their subsequent individual projects. Pythonophiles have been blessed with numerous celebratory texts, notably Kim Johnson's troika (now all o.p.), but this glorious offering is the bible, the last word, and, yes-the full Monty. One of this season's best offerings; a pox on every library that doesn't acquire it! [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/03.]-Barry X. Miller, Austin P.L., TX Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.