Review: The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray

Narrator: Johnny Heller
Publisher: Quirk Books
Published: September 15, 2015
Paperback, 271 Pages 
Audio Book Length: 7 hours and 58 minutes
ISBN: 9781594748011
Genre: Biography


The man. The movies. The life. The legend. He’s played a deranged groundskeeper, a bellowing lounge singer, a paranormal exterminator, and a grouchy weatherman. He is William James “Bill” Murray, America’s greatest national treasure. From his childhood lugging golf bags at a country club to his first taste of success on Saturday Night Live, from his starring roles in Hollywood blockbusters to his reinvention as a hipster icon for the twenty-first century, The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray chronicles every aspect of his extraordinary life and career.

He’s the sort of actor who can do Hamlet and Charlie’s Angels in the same year. He shuns managers and agents, and he once agreed to voice the lead in Garfield because he mistakenly believed it was a Coen Brothers film. He’s famous for crashing house parties all over New York City—and if he keeps photobombing random strangers, he might just break the Internet.

Part biography, part critical appreciation, part love letter, and all fun, this enormous full-color volume, packed with color film stills and behind-the-scenes photography, chronicles every Murray performance in loving detail, recounting all the milestones, legendary “Murray stories,” and controversies in the life of this enigmatic performer.

My Thoughts

I grew up watching movies starring the great Bill Murray. Ghostbusters, Little Shop of Horrors, Scrooged were some of my favorites as a child and then I was introduced to old episodes of Saturday Night Live from the 70's and found a whole new appreciation for this comedian. I've never seen Caddyshack or Groundhog Day, which are probably the roles he's most famous for. When I mentioned this to my husband and suggested that maybe we watch them, his face lit up like I gave him a Christmas present. So, I must be missing out on something. 

I didn't know much about the actor before reading The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray by Robert Schnakenberg, and when I flipped through the pages, it wasn't quite what I expected out of a biography. In fact, I'm reluctant to even call it a biography, it's more of an encyclopedia filled with facts about the actor. If you want to know Murray's view of cats, well you can find it listed under C. How does he feel about golf? Look under G, and spoiler alert: He loves it. 

Everything you never knew you wanted to know seems to be in this book. My particular favorites is the roles he was considered for and didn't want and Tales From Murrayland. Robert Schnakenberg hasn't met or conducted interviews with Murray, so all this information is collected through books, television, newspaper, and magazines interviews with Murray as well as his colleagues. However, it is nice to have it all compacted into one book. The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray is a great homage to this beloved comedian.

I had a paperback copy of this book, but I also listened to it as an audio book as well. And while I'm a fan of audio books, I think I would pass on it in this case. Please note: This has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the audio book or the narrator. Both were excellent. The book has images and is visually stimulating. While listening to the audio is good. but it's as if someone is reading entries to an encyclopedia. Johnny Heller, the narrator, did a wonderful job with the material. I would absolutely listen to another book narrated by Heller. This book didn't work as an audio book for me. 

If you'd like to listen to a sample of this book, click here.