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Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years (Palin Diaries #1)

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  1,499 ratings  ·  158 reviews

“Michael Palin is not just one of Britain’s foremost comedy character actors, he also talks a lot. Yap, yap, yap he goes, all day long and through the night . . . then, some nights, when everyone else has gone to bed, he goes home and writes up a diary.” —John Cleese

“For Palin it has been one hell of a ride, but he seems to have maintained equilibrium all along the way. .

...more
Hardcover, 650 pages
Published September 4th 2007 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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El
Michael Palin has always probably been my favorite Python. I didn't know, prior to finding this book at a book sale recently, that he was a diarist as well as comedic genius. This first volume covers the Python Years, 1969-1979 - basically the rise and fall of the Pythons during their glory years. I grew up watching their movies (collective and individual works) and shows and Fawlty Towers, and to be honest, I didn't really appreciate them until my teen years because my younger ears didn't under...more
Lena
I was a big Monty Python fan as a teen-ager, so I was very excited when I learned founding member Michael Palin was publishing the diary he began keeping during the early days of the Monty Python show. The diary, however, is a tricky form in that it is rarely written with the interests of a reader in mind. Because of this, the book gets off to a surprisingly slow start. Palin’s early entries do contain some tidbits about the early days of Python, but, as he mentions, he had no idea at that time...more
Jenn
I didn't buy the book when I saw him speak at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Sitting in the second row back from the stage and watching the Fan Circus was enough to write a short story. There is nothing like a room filled with old dorks. But even better, the new enthusiasm of a 20 something year old Chinese girl who had been recently introduced to the whole Python thing through her American boyfriend. Her gushing went from cute to hilarious as she exclaimed that more Python films and shows sh...more
Frank Kelly
What must it have been like to make "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"? There are numerous tails and myths -- but in his wonderful first volume of diary entries, we find out: "John (Lancelot) and I (Galahad) driving up through Glencoe in a Budget Rent-a-Van full of chainmail." Not a line you will find in most books or memoirs. But you will in Michael Palin's first set of published diaries. Or how about this one? "A good day's filming at last... John Horton's rabbit effects are superb. A really vi...more
Phil Huff
Warning. This is not a scintillating tell-all of the Monty Python world...it is something far more entertaining and at times enlightening. Michael Palin (known as the 'nice' python) wrote diaries throughout his life, and he thoughtfully published ten years worth that start with life right before the creation of Monty Python, and end with the release of their most controversial work Life of Brian. This is a look into a successful balance of the creative process and domestic life. Palin is a devot...more
William
Great little book. Coming hard on the heels of the 6 part PBS documentary, these diary excerpts cover the Python Years (as the title suggests). The writing is remarkable, and if Palin writes this way in contemporary diary style, without the benefit of edits and rewrites (not suggesting anything, Michael), then the writing is even more remarkable. Fantastic behind the scenes look at the Pythons...especially surprised at how little Terry Jones is discussed, considering he and Palin wrote together....more
S.D.
Not since Pepys’ has a diary warranted such literary merit. And Palin’s is better, less a diary than a portrait of everyman’s artist. In crisp, witty prose Palin narrates and ruminates on the creative process, British politics, travel, television, sport, family, film, finances, fine dining, literature, public transportation, and, of course, the inner workings of Monty Python. But what’s unique in Palin’s process is his refined focus on a particular activity, event or thought in each entry. These...more
Isabel Ferreira
May 09, 2008 Isabel Ferreira rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all Monty Python & M. Palin fans
It was extremely interesting to learn how Monty Python formed, planned and carried out their projects. Also, I got to know more about that decade in terms of politics, arts, etc. A must for all Michael Palin and Monty Python fans!
Christine
BBC Book of the Week


1/5 The Monty Python star recalls the influential comedy troupe's huge success in the 70s and the making of their first film.
2/5 The actor and travel writer recalls the Monty Python team's success in America, their break-up and the start of their own solo projects.
3/5 The comic actor and travel writer shares more poignant memories from the 70s, reflecting on his relationship with his ailing dad.
4/5 The comic actor shares his surreal experience of guest hosting a big American
...more
Nigel
This 600 page brick of a book had been sitting on the coffee table waiting to be read for a couple of years. Although I've always been a fan of Monty Python I hadn't picked it up because I was unsure whether the author could sustain a level of interest into all things Python over the full length of the book.
Eventually I plucked up the courage and started it. My initial fears did prove groundless. This is a very readable book.
Palin's writing style does evolve as the book progresses. As he gets in...more
Christine
OK, I updated this. I exaggerated, there are only 600 pages or so, and I felt guilty so I skimmed the rest of the book. There is a little more meat about the making of "Life of Brian", but not much more. Mostly we hear about Palin's trips to the dentist and the tax assessor....
----------------

There is a big difference between reading an unedited diary and reading a memoir. Palin comes across as a very nice guy (and John Cleese not) but if you want to know how Monty Python developed their sketche...more
Kate
It's weird to be assigning a rating and reviewing works that were never originally intended to be published. There's also been entries removed, which I understand. There's stuff that you'd rather not the public see and most of it is with regard to family vacations, which don't fit so nicely into the narrative of Palin's career and the growing popularity of Monty Python. It's not as informative during the first bit of the book, quite honestly it drags quite a bit, but that's also not surprising....more
Chris
I heartily enjoyed this book, but I think it has limited appeal to the general public.

First, I'm a raving Monty Python fan. I have a rough knowledge of the order of events in the Python history, and the members of the troupe.

Second, I'm a big fan of Michael Palin in general. I've seen many of his travelogues and I'm generally not disappointed by his output.

Third, I generally enjoy reading diaries.

Here are some items I found to be engaging reading in the book (in no particular order):

-English Cel...more
Don
“Michael Palin is not just one of Britain’s foremost comedy character actors, he also talks a lot. Yap, yap, yap he goes, all day long and through the night . . . then, some nights, when everyone else has gone to bed, he goes home and writes up a diary.” So writes John Cleese about Monty Python co-member Michael Palin, also known for acclaimed travel programs such as Around the World in 80 Days and Full Circle. With a lucid and witty style, Palin chronicles the early days of Python (from fringe...more
Tobie
Possibly the most enjoyable book I have ever read. Michael is so optimistic it can only rub off on the reader. I was very sad when I was finished. He shares books, movies and plays he's enoyed; I've started a list from his experiences. Also, if you're a huge Monty Python fan, as I am, the behind-the-scenes stories, personal impressions and emotions are priceless. Who knew John Cleese was so snooty, Idle such a hippy, Gilliam and Jones so emotional and Graham so depressed. It made me love and res...more
Angela
A long, funny, fascinating and intimate selection of "the nice one"'s personal diaries. Hidden beneath these rather quotidian observations on restaurant meals, meetings with producers, trips up to the family, and occasional writing sessions with Terry Jones or the rest of the Pythons, is the remarkableness of Michael Palin himself. Remarkable because he seems to have been mind-bogglingly prolific: these diaries, already at 600+ pages, are only 20% of the total diaries he kept for himself. In one...more
Laura
From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week:
The actor and writer recalls how the influential comedy group reconvened in 1977 to make their most controversial film.
Phil
Michael Palin being, by common consent of those who know him and those of us who merely admire his work, one of the nicest men in show business, these diaries always threatened to be entertaining and enlightening, and so they are. From the inception of Monty Python to the huge success of Life of Brian, they track their author's burgeoning career, the growth of his family, his surprise at his business success, his sharp eye for character and absurd situations, and the modest professionalism with...more
Cynthia
Being a Monty Python fan since the show first aired on PBS, I enjoyed reading the background information about the making of the show and the movies. Michael Palin writes diary entries that are descriptive, thoughtful, and colorful. It was a well-blended mix of personal life, past family life, and current business. Lots of insights into the other members of Python; I find I am now interested in reading the books written by other members. The mention of 1970s actors or personalities I had forgott...more
Daniel
If I had written this book I would have renamed it from Diaries: The Python Years, 1969-1979 (Palin Diaries, #1) by Michael Palin to Failing Upward by Daniel Donahue.

Then, instead of various days, months, and years dictating the titles of the various chapters, I would have used the following chapter titles:

Chapter 1: Turning ambiguous into 'deliberately vague'
Chapter 2: Wanting others to believe what you believed happened
Chapter 3: Blurring and obfuscation with an innocence quite touching
Chapte...more
Samdenney
Mar 23, 2010 Samdenney rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Python fans, fans of diary writing in general.
At times I really had to slog through this book. Palin's diary style can be almost unbearably bone-dry. Lots of descriptions of restaurant meals, meetings, and car journeys to and fro. For me, not enough about his actual feelings and emotions. Palin is obviously not a particularly introspective character, which disappointed me as I had hoped for more of an insight into the man himself rather than just his work. At times I felt that the book could easily have been pared down from 600 pages to at...more
Genevieve
Apr 07, 2008 Genevieve rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Monty Python fans
I'm giving this book 5 stars because of the pure enjoyment I got from reading it. It's upwards of 600 pages, but I devoured it.

Deciding to publish his diary was a clever idea. Unlike an autobiography, which is inevitably tainted by current thoughts/feelings on what happened, a diary really charts the ups and downs as they unfolded. He's surprisingly candid and insightful about the good and the not-so-good within Monty Python, and he does it so in a witty and yet nice way. His diary consists of...more
Sylvia
I really enjoyed this book, and given the fact that I originally found this as a sample and just felt like perusing it, only later to buy it and read all 670+ pages.... I think that alone says enough. I found it really interesting to read about the beginnings, as well as endings, of Python... how each member got along, how they worked together and just reading about Palin going from Python to gradually becoming more independent, was great to read. I think this is a must for die hard fans, maybe...more
Ken
A publicity biography of Michael Palin, written by John Cleese, is included in the introduction for (Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years):


“Michael Palin is not just one of Britain’s foremost comedy character actors...he also talks a lot.

Michael chats, quips, fantasises, reminisces, commiserates, encourages, plans, discusses, and elaborates. Then, some nights, when everyone else has gone to bed, he goes home and writes up a diary.”


You can almost hear Cleese’s signature tone of ire in your head as...more
Jake
Aug 03, 2009 Jake added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hardcore Python nerds and probably nobody else.
A fascinating read for anyone interested in Michael or Monty Python - it collects Michael's diaries from a few months before Flying Circus began shooting to the year after the completion of Life of Brian.

I think diaries are more interesting than memoirs because you read about what the person thought was important at the time rather than what was more important in retrospect. Michael is instantly likable - probably the most fun parts are his frank discussions of the personalities in Python - Gra...more
Christopher
Feb 24, 2008 Christopher rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Python fans, diary enthusiasts
I must begin by saying that this uplifting diary of Michael Palin, who commenced it in 1969 at age 25 (at the beginning of his time with Monty Python's Flying Circus), reveals him as mature beyond his years, shrewdly observant, and a very engaging writer. It's arguably the best book I've read in years. Along the way, MP writes frankly and openly about his relationships with the other Python members and their personalities as well as others he meets along the way over the course of ten years. My...more
Kent
May 30, 2011 Kent rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: only the biggest MontyPython fans
Recommended to Kent by: Claire
from Claire for Christmas 2008 -
25 Jan 2009 - started and read 1969-70

This is a slow moving because it goes thru the minutiae of dinners and travel, but throughout Palin's overnight stardom with Python, we see how he copes three young children, a father becoming physically and mentally weak, the strong personalities of the other Python's, newfound wealth - all by the age of 32.

08 Aug 2009 - finished 1974, interesting because that is the year Python filmed Holy Grail

07 Sep 2009 - finished 1975,...more
Kerry
Wow, this took me ages to read. It is long and covers quite a lot of territory but is wonderful. Being a diary and not a memoir, it doesn't always cover the things you would like (there is an awful lot in here about visits to the dentist and troubled teeth) but the breadth is really nice and he has such an considered and insightful way of viewing the world.

The entries cover the beginnings of the series, Holy Grail, appearances on Saturday Night Live, Life of Brian and the very beginnings of Time...more
Sam Still Reading
Oct 09, 2010 Sam Still Reading rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Michael Palin fans
Recommended to Sam Still Reading by: I am a Michael Palin fan
You may have guessed by now that I’m quite a fan of Michael Palin’s travel documentaries. Well, I’m also a fan of Monty Python and couldn’t resist the opportunity to delve into his diaries, starting with the beginning of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and finishing with the Life of Brian.

Michael is himself apologetic at the beginning of the diaries, stating that he didn’t feel there was enough about Python in there, because he didn’t realise how big the whole thing would become. He continues this...more
Amy
Dec 21, 2008 Amy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Python fans, football-playing gynecologists
Recommended to Amy by: Jim
An endearing collection of Michael Palin's diaries from the earliest moments of Python through the premier of "Life of Brian." Fame hit just as his first child was born, and the diaries describe a man at his creative peak trying to be a good husband and father who can't quite believe his good fortune while money and acclaim come pouring in (spoiler alert: he succeeds).

The private Palin is as he seems: a decent guy, a disciplined writer (both of his diary and of his other work), a proud dad, a g...more
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Michael Edward Palin, CBE, is an English comedian, actor, writer and television presenter best known for being one of the members of the comedy group Monty Python and for his travel documentaries.

Palin wrote most of his material with Terry Jones. Before Monty Python, they had worked on other shows such as The Ken Dodd Show, The Frost Report and Do Not Adjust Your Set. Palin appeared in some of the...more
More about Michael Palin...
Around the World in 80 Days: Companion to the Pbs Series (Best of the BBC) Himalaya Full Circle Sahara Pole to Pole

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