Book Review: “Jim Henson” by Brian Jay Jones

jim hensonI don’t remember Jim Henson’s death.  I was eight years old and probably more concerned about connecting Legos than connecting with current events.  I do, however, remember loving the Muppets.  They were zany, crazy, funny, and entertaining.  Not only did the Muppet movies provide me with a growing sense of humor, but the Muppet Babies show would also provide me with a sense of sleep deprivation every Saturday morning when I would wake up earlier than I should have to watch a cartoon that I was devoted to.  Even now in my thirties, I can still sing the theme song word-for-word.

As I have grown into adulthood, my respect and interest in the creator of this enterprise has intrigued me.  And besides what I could learn on Wikipedia, my curiosity has always been on the back burner.  Until I heard about the release about of Brian Jay Jones’ new biography simply titled, “Jim Henson.”  I bought in on pre-order and put it in my ever-growing stack of books to read (this blog post was originally published in March 2014 on a previous blog).  Upon finishing it I have grown to love and respect Jim Henson more and have a deeper appreciation for his genius.

Though this is not an “authorized” biography, Jones has obviously done his homework.  The amount of time that it took him to research and write the book would have been ample time for a doctoral student to write two dissertations.  However, Jones’ research and his ability to connect personally with the people in Henson’s life should be commended.

With that being said, “Jim Henson” was one of the most detailed biographies I have read.  You cannot read this book without feeling that you know Jim Henson well.  This however, is also Jones’ greatest weakness in writing the book.  It is so detailed that there were a few points in the book where I was ready to put it down because I never felt like I was going to get through a chapter.  This one one of the few biographies that I truly enjoyed, in the overall sense, but had to force myself to finish.  I can distinctly remember one chapter (the chapter on the Labyrinth movie) that I skipped ahead to the next chapter.  It was too many details for this part of Jim’s life.

When I trudged through those chapters, however, and I got to the last couple of years in Henson’s life, the pace moved much quicker and was a more enjoyable read.  The details (medically speaking) of Jim’s death were interesting, if not overkill, but it helped to move the story along.  There were sections following his death that I moved emotionally.  And the last chapter seemed to codify the aftermath of Jim’s life and the destination of his company well.

In the end, I am glad that I read Brian Jay Jones’ “Jim Henson.”  I was able to glean a few potential sermon illustrations, and I feel like I got to know a man who was truly a genius, destined for one thing in life, and who would have been happy to my friend and yours.

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