It's Good To Be The King
The Seriously Funny Life of Mel Brooks
Book by James Robert Parish
Review by Brookslyn
I am a true Mel Brooks fan, I'll take the good, the bad and everything in between. In the past dozen years or so I've tried to learn as much as possible about this man who makes me laugh so much. Recently, keeping up with Mel has become a bit easier with the proliferation of the internet, even some of his earlier works are finding their way on-line. But despite this vast respository of knowledge, there is a void in search engine queries and online encyclopedias, a lack of context and possibly completeness in materials.
In "It's Good To Be The King; The Seriously Funny Life of Mel Brooks," James Robert Parish dedicates the book to "Mel Brooks fans everywhere," which to no surprise, includes the author, himself. I never thought I would use this term in this manner, but "thank you Sir, may I have another." Parish's book doesn't merely serve as a much needed update to the now out of print Seesaw A Dual Biography of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft (1979!), but is the worthy successor to it. From the get go it's clear that Parish has done his homework, as the book is littered with anecdotes about Mel and his life, but in a very structured manner. I for one, despite reading many books and interviews, never knew that Mel's mother once dated Eddie Iskowitz (who later became Eddie Cantor) or that the reason the world hasn't seen much Spaceballs merchandise is because of a promise Mel made to George Lucas in seeking his blessing to spoof the genre that Lucas had made so popular (I personally say forget Lucas, gimme my Spaceballs Action Figures!).
What makes the book successful, beyond the sheer amount of information, is the intimacy Mr. Parish creates with the reader. It's as if Mel Brooks himself were telling the story. Of course, nothing less would be acceptable from such an accomplished writer. In the introduction Parish removes all barriers between himself and the reader by describing his first exposure to the works of Mel Brooks and confessing that at a young age he "had become hooked on Mel Brooks' talent and zany persona - and remains so to this day." This is by far the single best book for Mel Brooks fans out there. For more about Anne and Mel stick with SeeSaw, for more about the individual films of Mel stick to The Big Screen Comedies of Mel Brooks or Method in Madness. There are also plenty of other coffee table books centered on specific movies or providing a more cursory look at Mel's life. But for Mel's life, this is the best single source of information (other than Mel himself).
The main subject of the book aside, technically the book is divided into an introduction, thirty two chapters, a short listing of Mel Brooks credits (for a more comprehensive listing see The Big Screen Comedies of Mel Brooks by Robert Alan Crick), Bibliography and Index. By the time you are done reading this wonderfully entertaining book you'll be very appreciative of Mr Parish. Personally, I was thinking about what I might be able to share with other fans... for starters, I figured I'd write this review.
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
LC : PN2287.B695P37 2007
ISBN : 978-0-471-75267-7 (cloth)
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