Michael Palin is best-known for – take your pick: The store proprietor in the Dead Parrot sketch? The priest who blurts out “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!!”? Or any of a half-dozen other memorable Monty Python characters?
It’s hard to say. But Palin has plenty – maybe too much – to say about it all, in his recently published Diaries 1969-79: The Python Years.
For more than 600 pages, Palin amiably recounts his days as the Python phenomenon grew from a group of guys desperately hoping to get some BBC airtime to hobnobbing with celebrities as the new kings of entertainment.
Some readers might find this a tough slog – there are a lot of entries devoted to seaside hikes, visiting his parents, taking his kids to school. On the other hand, there’s casual descriptions of story meetings ruined by Graham Chapman slugging down gin like it was water.
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Palin seems to be an easy-going guy, one who often acts as a liaison between the more high-maintenance Pythons. Then again, he’s the one doing the describing, so he may be biased.
He offers plenty of detail on the making of The Life of Brian; today’s readers may find it difficult to believe just how controversial the film was at its release.
Any Python fanatic will devour every word of this book. Even those who are less enthusiastic will find it rewarding, even if it entails skipping over the repetitive stuff. – Richard Connelly
Diaries 1969-79: The Python Years, by Michael Palin, Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin’s Press, 650 pages, $29.95