The Palin Diaries: 1969-1979
I'm currently reading this book and since there isn't a discussion thread and I know at least one other person's reading it at the same time as me, I thought I'd start one.
I've really enjoyed it so far - I think MP's an engaging diarist, and whether he's discussing very mundane stuff, or his creative pursuits, or commenting on the political/social/economic aspects of the time, it holds some interest for me. Since I'm also a writer it's fascinating to read about him working, and how he feels about his work. I've laughed often, especially at his charming powers of description - his observations about himself, and other random people he meets, about the funny things his children say and do, and about the other Pythons.
I've found the inner workings of Monty Python fascinating: the way their partnerships worked, how they put things together, their factionalism, various individuals' prima donna moments, the sheer hard work that went into creating a thirty-second laugh, the promotional crap they had to deal with, and the fact that there seemed to be a bond between them that could transcend the negativity, and they could calm down and respect each other's differences after they'd fought about them. I find their jealousy of each other's projects a bit odd (but each to their own) and I can't quite decide if MP shares it or not. It seems like he's trying not to, and most of the time manages it!
Another fascinating thing is how the other Pythons come across. Generally MP's a very generous diarist, and a skilled observer; though he's not above criticism. Jones and Gilliam come across the best - especially the former - and Cleese and Idle the worst. But even the negativity isn't constant or judgemental; you don't finish a chapter and end up disliking anyone. Chapman's somewhere in the middle, off with the fairies (literally as well as figuratively!) most of the time. Some of the anecdotes & descriptions make me laugh, as I said: like Chapman roaming the corridors saying 'I may have to go to bed now, but I don't have to go aloooone!' and saying some woman's name repeatedly in a silly voice. And Idle flinging down his napkin and flouncing out of a restaurant - OK, I know that was a serious bit, but it cracked me up. And Jones in the Caribbean worrying about big fish eating him or lots of little ones ganging up, and giggling so much at some hotel or other that people thought Palin had a woman in his room. And a few of the Pythons walking down the street past the Goodies, and them yelling insults at each other. Love it.
That's what I can think to say for now in a semi-serious, semi-intelligent review. And you guys can do the same - but don't feel you have to. Intellectual commentary/debate, perspectives on the period and the people, thoughts on books and films MP mentions, frustration at some of the sketch ideas that didn't end up going into things (like the 'Four Wise Men,' for example, which made me laugh) sharing of favourite snippets, going 'awww' at MP as husband & father, posting of pictures from the book for the purpose of gushing - all those and anything else are welcome on this thread, and I'll join you in all of them!
So I hope you'll join me. :-)