Saturday, January 2, 2016

Jim Henson

A nonfiction book.

This book was a gift to me from my mother for Christmas. She gave me a wry smile and said, it has a chapter about him making Labyrinth, as if that was the only part of the book I would read, but she knew the truth. I would pick it up and discover this guy who had brought so much joy and creativity to the world, and I would love him a little more. Throughout my life I have caught glimpses of Jim Henson, but as more of a 3rd generation geek than a normal kid, I never really watched his work with Sesame Street. It wasn't until I was introduced to Labyrinth that I discovered the amazing talent that was Jim Henson. After having my son, aptly named after the goblin king himself, Jareth, I began to see a little more of Henson's work. Labyrinth remains my all time favorite with my 9 year old son having seen it about 20 times and owning his own copy since he kept having to borrow mine, and my husband will always prefer The Dark Crystal to nearly any other film from his childhood, but we are gaining a new respect for Henson's other works. A part of this I have to thank this book for, since I tried to find each work of his as I read about Henson's work on them. With reading this book, therefore, I have come to see both sides of the man behind the widely known Muppets, and it was a very interesting trip to see.

Brian Jay Jones does an excellent job of capturing the quiet, creative, loving nature of Henson. Through interviews with the family, numerous friends, and a great many co-workers, he shows the reader the Jim Henson as everyone had come to know him. And with how little time along Henson seemed to have, the view is nearly all encompassing. What little gaps were left, were filled in with notes from Henson's personal journals. Many times I found myself laughing, smiling, and nodding my head as if I had known Henson personally and could attest to how "Jim" that one thing was. Countless times I found myself rushing from my seat to go tell someone else in the house this amazing little tidbit about Jim, his antics, his process, his life. I was constantly fascinated by him. And Jones does a great job of pulling the reader into the Henson's life, making sure you get just as excited about this amazing man as I am sure Jones is.

My only complaint throughout the whole book (just shy of 500 pages or it would have knocked that one off the list) was the long-winded family descriptions at the beginning. For a while i was afraid that everyone Henson met would be given a complete family history going back a few generations. Turned out those genealogy reports were reserved for Jim and Jane. After they had been given and Jones began to delve into Henson's personal history, things picked up and I grew increasingly fascinated with the story unfolding.

Outside of that, I think everyone should give this book a try. Jim Henson was a fascinating man with such a wonderful personality crammed into his tall, lanky frame. He is someone everyone should get to know a little better. Then come back here and tell me what your favorite thing about Henson is. I love his creative vision. As a writer that sees worlds in my mind, I can relate to him in that aspect, and the products of his creativity fascinate and leave me in awe.

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