I know a great deal of the history of the Muppets, but the many personal recollections, details, reasons, and even anecdotes of specific Muppet and artistic moments gave me a better picture of this guy I've either loved or feared since I first watched Sesame Street.
The Narrator (Heyborne) is clearly a fan. His subtle (but deliberate) impressions of Jim, Frank, Jerry, Richard, and others when they are directly quoted were wonderful embellishments to the text. Very nicely done.
In case anyone wonders, Jim's life was not about fame, money, or scandals and neither is this biography.
Many great insights into the roots and planning of Muppet and Henson projects.
Jim's love for his kids from their birth long into their success as adults.
Jane, Juhl, Oz, and Bernie Brillstein were far more important to Jim than you'd guess.
Jim was a great artist and he knew it, but he was very grateful for others. Honestly collaborative and trusting. His gentle, visionary leadership really allowed talented people a chance for greatness.
Overall a very clever, insightful, and encouraging view of art and the freedoms and dangers in revenue and commercialization.
If you're a fan of Jim Henson and are a creative person yourself, you will enjoy and benefit from Steven's book.
Please remember the author released the book as a serial to Amazon (one chapter at a time). There are some repeated introductions to people, projects, and concepts that are not meant to be patronizing, but allow readers to appreciate isolated chapters.
The narration was clear and (consistently) adopted cadence and tone of the people quoted. (Henson, Oz, Brillstein, etc.)
Written decades before more familiar stories it carries the intrigue of originality. Particularly it's not "Indiana Jones with a twist" or "Treasure Island... with a twist". It was wild and odd but not trying to outdo itself in the third act.
As a warning (or caveat emptor) Native Africans are depicted with some obvious cultural insensitivity. Some of the bias comes from the characters (the story is told by first person by a hard-bitten white man who can speak several African dialects) and some come from the author's era in history. There are some awkward moments for my ears, but nothing I felt was sensationally exploitative... monsters are monsters regardless of culture.
Classic adventure stories from Jules Verne or Robert Louis Stevenson
The narrator is clear, interesting, and a pro.
I suspect the director was asleep... some sections of dialog were heavily characterized (using different voices/styles) and others were not. I could tell during some chapters who was speaking by the tone of voice, but it was not consistent.
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