Top Fall 2013 Biographies: Jim Henson: The Biography

2013 is shaping up to be a tremendous year for readers with long awaited novels Inferno from Dan Brown as well as And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. For those of you who prefer non-fiction, we began looking at Fall 2013 Biographies recently beginning with our #6 Pick, Wilson by A. Scott Berg. We continue with the Top Fall 2013 Biographies with:

#5 Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones

jim hensonFor those of us born in the quarter century between 1970 and 1995, few would claim not have been impacted by the work of Jim Henson. Whether it be the hijinks of The Muppet Show or learning your letters and numbers from Bert and Ernie via Sesame Street, it was hard to be an American kid and miss out on Henson’s beloved creations. With that in mind, on September 24th Ballantine Books will release Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones. Jones is, like myself and so many others who grew up in the 70s and 80s, a strong member of the “Jim Henson Generation.” This is the first major biography in a while of Henson, and of course takes a look at all his famous creations. The most famous are obviously the Muppets, and Jones’ book takes great lengths to describe both the creative process and the actual work that brought these beloved characters to life. Henson’s other projects are examined as well, like his semi-live action work – Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal – and what he was personally like.

Jim Henson on Muppet Babies

Jones had access to the Henson’s family and a lot of the main players around Henson like Frank Oz, so Jim Henson may well be the closest work we ever get to an authorized biography. There has been some rumor that the biography doesn’t take a critical enough look at Henson, for example that he was rarely successful when he strayed from his main puppetry themes. How deeply Henson’s dark side is probed – to the extent that he had one – will have to remain unknown till the book hits the shelves. The press for the book, using the quote describing Henson as “the new Walt Disney” probably takes the praise a bit far. However, there is no denying the man’s genius and Brian Jay Jones’ Jim Henson gives us the best look yet at a man who made it his life’s career to bring a smile to your face.

Author Brian Jay Jones is also the author of Washington Irving: An American Original released in 2008.

Commentary and analysis provided by Nonfiction Editor James Richard White.

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