27 October 2016

Review: Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones

Trade paperback, 565 pages
Published 2013

Acquired August 2013
Read October 2014
Jim Henson: The Biography
by Brian Jay Jones

I'm not a Henson-ite the way other members of my generation are. I grew up on Sesame Street, but I never saw The Muppet Show or Fraggle Rock until I was an adult, though I did see most of the Muppet films at various points. I didn't see The Dark Crystal until adulthood; I've still never seen Labyrinth. But reading this book made me wish I had been a Hensonite, or at least would become one. I might have never seen Labyrinth, but now I'm even curious about Henson's early work in experimental film. I'm not a Hensonite, but I do like behind-the-scenes examinations of film and television, and getting a glimpse into creative people, and this book provides both of those, and in an area I don't normally go. (The making of The Muppet Show is very different to that of 2001!)

Brian Jay Jones writes an exhaustive and entertaining portrait of an endlessly creative and inventive mind. Both outside and within his puppet-related work, Henson was restless, continuously pushing the boundaries of what he thought possible, continuously trying new things. Jones captures that very well in this book, which despite its length, and despite being a biography (a genre I find tougher to read than novels), I tore right through. The ending, especially, is very moving, with an account of Henson's funeral that makes you feel like you were actually there. A good biography, I think, makes you feel like you've lost someone when you reach the end of their life, and Jones definitely does that here.

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