The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray by Robert Schnakenberg is the first in-depth reference book on the man touted as “the world’s finest actor.” The softcover book is a full-color volume of articles, compiled much like an encyclopedia or reference book.
Some people are loved not just for what they do, but who they are. Bill Murray is an actor beloved as much for his on-screen performances (Saturday Night Live, “Meatballs,” “Caddyshack,” “Stripes,” “Ghostbusters”) as his approach to life. For Bill Murray aficionados, the closest thing to a full-length book is Murray’s own biographical Cinderella Story: My Life in Golf published in 2010, but that book covers mostly Bill Murray’s love of golf. I looked a few times for a book on Murray and was surprised to find there was nothing comprehensive out there, despite more than three decades in the public eye. Pop culture and history author Robert Schnakenberg realized the rich subject matter that is Bill Murray and went to work on this unauthorized biography.
As you will read in the book, Bill Murray has no agent, manager, and certainly no publicist. His direct line to the outside world is a heavily guarded 1-800 number. Despite Schnakenberg’s best efforts, he was never able to contact Bill Murray about the book, therefore there is no direct contribution or interview from Murray that is found in the book. Considering this lack of participation from “The Murricane,” the book manages to be entertaining and informative.
The book lists topics alphabetically. If you want to learn about Bill Murray’s appearance in “Kingpin”, you simply turn to that entry. Topics are varied from themes in Murray’s life, such as “Love”, to the minutiae of Murray’s fondness for Mexican soft drinks (see Mexican Coke). Entries include films featuring Bill Murray and even those he had a connection to, but does not appear in, making it a complete reference guide to date.
What I found most interesting about the book, and perhaps any person ever, is the revelations of Bill Murray’s personality. In the entry entitled “Mendel, Gregor” we learn that the person Bill Murray would most like to go back in time to meet is friar and geneticist Gregor Mendel. This entry was glommed from a 2014 “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit and his explanation of why is indicative of Murray’s truly original perspective and mind. The entry on “The Weather Channel” reveals Murray’s dedication to the channel.
The book is also broken up with pages called “Tales from Murrayland,” which share the many stories quickly approaching legend of Bill Murray in his natural habitat. Bill Murray has long had the habit of “hiding in plain daylight.” Many celebrities masquerade themselves as somehow different or more elite than so-called “ordinary” people. They have a gatekeeper at all times, whether it be a manager, personal assistant, bodyguard or publicist. Bill Murray has never been the one to do that and these stories are proof of this. Bill Murray may share a few words with a bachelor party, crashing a premiere, or take over the bartending duties at Austin’s SXSW festival. That’s what I suppose makes Bill Murray magnetic and why the book is a success. We wonder about Bill Murray because he is real.
Hardcore Murray devotees will be impressed, but my only wish is that Murray would have participated. Of course, this was beyond the control of the author. Reading The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray only makes me appreciate the man and his matchless work even more. As Cameron Crowe is quoted describing Bill Murray, “In a world where most careers are xeroxes of each other, his is uniquely his own.”
About the Author
Robert Schnakenberg is the author of more than a dozen books on American pop culture and history. His website can be found at www.schnakworld.com
Published by Quirk Books / $22.95Semnat de Paul Leslie