Saturday, June 16, 2018

BOOK: Amazing Biography of Jim Henson

Jim Henson has always had an incredibly special place in my heart. Not only did I love Sesame Street, the Muppets, The Dark Crystal, Fraggle Rock, Muppet Babies, and Labyrinth, but there was something about his voice, his presence that reached a very young me and has stayed with me ever since. He was an early inspiration and idol to me and to this day, everything he did brings joy to me. I was in fourth grade when I wrote my first ever research paper, it was about him, the same year as his death. I still have that report with it's green (Kermit colored, naturally) construction paper cover and hand drawn picture of Jim.

I'd been waiting to get Brian Jay Jones' biography Jim Henson since it came out and was gifted it for Christmas this year (thanks Amazon wish list!). I just finished reading it a few days ago. It is a meticulously researched biography (with a 50 page reference list documenting every interview for every quote) that is also a joyous read. It captures him as a person, a creator, and his lasting influence on others.

And yet for me, through no fault of the author, it read like a tragedy. From the beginning, I knew how it would end: a premature and possibly avoidable death of someone who was transcendent in my early identity formation. Having this extreme loss of someone so important to me hanging over the work from the beginning made it feel more like a funeral elegy than a biography. That in no way is meant to diminish the wonderful spirit of the book (which is filled with joy and wonder, admiration as well as honesty) nor the fluid and engaging writing of the biographer. It merely reminded me of how powerful the loss still feels to me all these years later.

I would highly recommend this book, a 9/10 for sure. It is so imminently readable, fascinating from a human and technical/artistic standpoint, and completely engrossing. In many ways, it is quite unlike any other biography you will read as it so effortlessly captures Jim's spirit and presence even with the looming tragedy of his death. A must read.


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