I bought The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray for our annual White Elephant gift exchange this past Christmas but when someone who lived out of town opened it I panicked that I wouldn’t be able to borrow it and stole it on my turn. While that may not be the intended spirit of a gift exchange it was probably in the spirit of Bill Murray.
Robert Schnakenberg is clearly a Bill Murray super-fan; his resulting encyclopedia is colorful and entertaining but its format limits its depth. Most Murray fans know the basics: Murray rose to fame with SNL in the ’70s, he loves to work with Wes Anderson but had a falling out with Harold Ramis and in the early 2000s he abandoned his agent and began using an 800 number instead. He elaborates on these well known factoids as well as other lesser known collaborations and quirks. Schnakenberg also sprinkles in “Tales from Murrayland” for the reader as well as expands on particular Murray movie performances as they relate to his entire body of work.
In the summer of 1984, three goliaths bestrode the American cultural landscapes: Bruce Springsteen, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Murray- star of the season’s highest-grossing film, Ghostbusters.
Cannonballers know I’m a stickler for chronology (particularly in memoirs & biographies) so this next complaint shouldn’t be a surprise. See, to keep with the encyclopedia format all the anecdotes are alphabetized which means at times the timeline jumps decades despite the reader not even flipping the page.
Overall The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray is cute but relies too heavily on its clever format which allows Schnakenberg to avoid being in-depth or particularly revealing. However, if you’re a Murray aficionado this is a mostly fun read.