Depending on your interest in a myriad number of things, you are going to either love or loathe William James Murray. He is an avid golfer with a reported handicap of 7, owns minor league baseball teams, loves major league sporting events, and any of that could teeter your opinion of the man to one side or the other. His acting style, his choices of film he’s been in, his not being the typical movie “star” all might send opinion of the man to a similar direction as above. Myself, I’m a fan. From Bill’s early days at Saturday Night Live, to his first films (Meatballs and Caddyshack), to the genius of Wes Anderson’s movies, I dig Bill Murray. Did you see The Sweet Spot? I did. Don’t know what it is? Head on over to IMDb and find out.
It was a few weeks ago at the New York Comic Con that I learned of a new book on Bill Murray, a strange collection of art and anecdotes passing through the career of our esteemed Bill. I was given the chance to chat with one of the authors, Ezra Croft, who enthusiastically signed a copy that I read cover-to-cover on the train ride back to Connecticut. The Art of Being Bill, The Many Faces of Awesome fulfills all things Bill, drawing out practically every facet of a favorite performer within an incredibly sweet package. From the bright white cover depicting a tattooed, detailed likeness of present-day Bill, to each following page of art all dedicated to something Bill has appeared in, it’s a stylized honorarium in picture form, and it’s just good.
Coming in under 200 pages, this is a conversation piece for film and art lovers, or just fans of Bill Murray. It plows through all Bill’s major (and minor!) successes on the silver screen with excitement, invoking brief summaries of each, in chronological order. Interspersed between these are examples of artwork from a series of gallery shows and unique depictions for the book, all of Bill Murray. Some are amazing, some funny, some absolutely silly, and some are practically gut wrenching. With Ezra Croft an avowed fan of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, there are a multitude of depictions of Bill as Steve, which all run the gamut of emotion, as the character in that film did. As I am also an avowed fan of that particular movie, it added to the book’s enjoyment, as it should any reader.
Each summary of the films of Bill are handled with a sort of reverence, even those that were either dismissed, like The Razor’s Edge, or ignored, like Quick Change. The Harold Ramis comedies are written about with whimsy, the Wes Anderson movies have a sense of awe, and the oddballs of the bunch, such as Tootsie or Where the Buffalo Roam or the absolutely fantastic St. Vincent, are treated with a similar appeal that might have you wondering if Bill Murray has ever appeared in a bad movie. It’s a thought any reader may have through to the conclusion of the book, as this one did.
There probably isn’t a whole lot of information within the book a fan of Bill Murray hasn’t learned before. There are some interesting snippets of knowledge and some quotes that add to the book as a whole, a sort of glue between the art and the films. It is unlikely that a true fan of Bill Murray has seen all of the art here, making it a must-have. The scattered details of his life, work and interests keep it from becoming a static reproduction of a gallery.
The Art of Being Bill is a neat book of focused enthusiasm, which inspires frequent, repeated perusal. That’s a book I can endorse mightily.
The Art of Being Bill, The Many Faces of Awesome, written by Ezra Croft and Jennifer Raiser is available now from Race Point Publications. Find it through your favorite bookseller or at this fine online location.