Hello Everyone and Welcome Back to The Boss Book Club!
Today we will be looking at Billy Crystal’s autobiography called Still Foolin’ ‘Em. It is a look at the life and career of one of American’s greatest comedians.
This book has a focus on ageing and growing old. Billy was 65 years old when he wrote this in 2013, and the book opens with a hilarious chapter that had me laughing out loud as he reflects on what being 65 looks like- and how terrifying that is!
The book follows a standard autobiography format- the chapters are separated by decade so Billy talks us through his 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. These chapters are interspersed with small, funny chapters that work off the ‘growing old’ theme. These are comedic chapters that serve to provide some laughs in between the more ‘serious’ chapters where he talks about growing up, and his life in show business; they include such topics as: the five stages of forgetting things, sex when you’re old, and why you should take care of your teeth. These funny interludes were a delight to read every time.
The book has strong points and weak points. Firstly, the not so good. If you’re not a baseball fan, or don’t know much about the sport, then this book will have large, large sections that won’t appeal to you. Billy, as it turns out, is a big baseball fan, and he talks about his experiences with Mickey Mantle and his time spent with the Yankees a lot. And I mean that, it’s not just one chapter you can skim over, it’s interspersed throughout the entire thing. This may be a really strong point if you are a baseball fan- if you love Billy and Baseball- then definitely get this book, you will love it!
Secondly, this book is edited a little oddly at times. There are sections where he talks about his first daughter a lot, and you can tell he’s a very proud father to both of them, but his second daughter gets only briefly mentioned, and often in the context of other projects or stories. It reads a little bit strangely.
Lastly, and this isn’t necessarily a negative point but is something you should be aware of, the book is quite factual and detailed throughout- a serious account of his life, with funny chapters about ageing placed in between. Some people might expect a comedian’s autobiography to be funny throughout, but that ‘s not what Billy aims to do here. This book is better suited to big fans of his work; it doesn’t suit the casual reader. Some of the chapters about his growing up years read a little dry after the initial funny chapter.
Now, the good points, and there are plenty! Billy has many interesting stories that give people background info into the making of City Slickers, 61, Analyze This and When Harry Met Sally. He tells great stories about the Oscars, and living in New York. One of the most wonderful parts of this book is when Billy talks about his family. He grew up in a big showbiz family, with many musicians and talented artists. He really paints a picture of an amazing upbringing, full of music and laughter, which will make you smile by proxy. However…
I was very surprised to find myself in tears at the end of his book. A book about ageing has to mention death and dying in there somewhere, and whilst he discusses it throughout the book with laughter and jokes, the final chapters of the book talk about the losses of his loved ones, and the difficulty of having to say goodbye to all the wonderful people he introduced us to in the opening chapters. It makes for heartfelt reading which has a real emotional impact.
I would recommend this book for big Billy Crystal fans, fans of baseball, and it would make a great gift for anyone that’s hit the grand mark of 65 years of age or older, there’s a laugh or two to be had here.
Happy Reading and thanks for joining us at The Boss Book Club!