Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Nonfiction Files

The Nonfiction Files is a weekly journal of my adventures reading my toppling piles of nonfiction books. I won't be posting reviews, but rather my thoughts about what I'm reading, while I'm reading it.

My current read is Moon River and Me by Andy Williams

Synopsis from publisher:

When in the mid-1950s Andy Williams reached a low point in his career, singing in dives to ever-smaller audiences, the young man from Wall Lake, Iowa, had no inkling of the success he would one day achieve. Before being declared a national treasure by President Ronald Reagan, Williams would chart eighteen gold and three platinum albums, headline at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for more than twenty years, and host an enormously popular weekly television variety show whose Christmas specials still occupy a tender spot in every baby boomer's heart.

Williams knew everybody who was anybody during his seven remarkable decades in show business (including Judy Garland, John Huston, Jack Lemmon, John Lennon, Elton John, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, and Barbra Streisand, among others) and was a close friend of Bobby Kennedy for many years, and he shares memories of them all in Moon River and Me. His millions of fans guarantee a huge audience for the autobiography of the plush baritone who- at the age of eighty-one-still draws thousands of fans to his Moon River Theater in Branson, Missouri.

My thoughts:

I had intended to talk about this book for 2 or 3 weeks, as I usually do in the Nonfiction Files, but shortly after I started reading it realized it probably wouldn't work for those purposes. It's an entertaining memoir, but I don't think I'll have multiple posts worth of things to talk about.

Andy Williams is a bit of a celebrity where I live, as he started his career here singing on the local radio station. It was fun to read about his early years in Iowa, and try to figure out the locations he mentioned - I'm not familiar with the street he said he lived on, but I have a feeling I know where in town it would be located. His depiction of small-town Iowa life was full of affection, and I think we can be proud to call him a home town boy.

His early years in show business had plenty of ups and downs, and he doesn't sugar coat the feelings of helplessness and failure he felt. He illustrates that making a name for himself in his business requires a lot of work, and a lot of luck, and he is careful to thank those who paved the way for him. He drops plenty of names, and his anecdotes about the famous people he brushed shoulders with, and occasionally befriended, are amusing and never mean-spirited.

I don't know that this book will win any prizes for writing, but it has a certain folksy charm - I can easily imagine sitting across a table in a smoky restaurant with Williams, listening to him tell these stories. At times I felt somewhat bogged down in what seemed to be too much detail, but that could be my unfamiliarity with the politics and events of the time hindering my enjoyment. I would anticipate that readers who lived this period of history with Williams will be delighted to gain a more intimate knowledge of the figures who were have probably seemed larger than life on television.

I found this to be a pleasant, entertaining story of the journey of one very famous man. I'm not sure it gave me any deeper insight into his life, but it certainly chronicled his rise to stardom, and the people who helped him along the way. If you are an Andy Williams fan, this would probably be a real winner!

Source: the publisher - thank you!
Rating: 7/10

Make sure to stop by and visit Jehara, who is also participating in The Nonfiction Files.


Zibilee said...

I am not very familiar with Andy Williams, but this book looks like a fun way to get to know a little more about him. I am glad that you liked it!

Nina said...

I never heard of the books before, but they do sound very interesting.

The Book Girl said...

I'm a new follower. I love the title of your blog, because I need some more bookshelves, too. =D

I'm trying to start up/keep up my own book blog; feel free to stop by!

Kailana said...

This looks good! Thanks for the review!