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on 13 May 2014
Not quite as action packed as the first (nor, likely, the next) volume. This is nonetheless a great read and Palin does come across as one of those truly blessed with a positive outlook on life who genuinely enhances the lives of those around him.
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on 27 November 2009
This volume of diaries sees Palin through the last few years of Python, including Hollywood Bowl performances and Meaning Of Life film, into a period where he combines writing projects with more mainstream acting, culminating with his brilliant performance as Ken in A Fish Called Wanda. Interestingly, although Python ceases to exist as a performing group, Palin and the others keep in very close contact and often contribute to or appear in each others projects. The years 1980-1988 see a maturing Palin successfully transition away from idol status to friendly family favourite, and start on his way to becoming the national institution he is today. For all his success during this post-Python period I sense that Palin is trying to find a path to follow and is a bit unsure of himself. Whilst his films are almost all critical successes he does not find himself becoming a heavyweight actor, more confirmed as a good supporting man. Nevetherless, his creativity continues to blossom and his sense of adventure grows, so that by the end of the diaries you can palpably feel his enthusiasm (and even a kind of need) for round the world travel and the chance to forge a separate identity for himself and the chance to set his own agenda. The diaries are better edited than The Python Years (where injudicious cuts sometimes meant that the events became disjointed) and Palin's niceness still shines through, although we also get a better sense of his political views and personal philosophy, as well as learning more about his friends, including his close bond with George Harrison. Nothing sensational here, but very good bedtime reading!
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on 14 January 2010
I'd read and thoroughly enjoyed Michael Palin's first volume of diaries, but had only heard a couple of reviews of this, the follow-up, and neither were encouraging. Words such as boring and unenlightening were used, and I was a little worried. I needn't have been. This second volume is every bit as good, if not better than the original.

Palin is such a natural writer, his words trip off the page as though he were casually sitting next to you making pleasant conversation. His warmth, wit, love of his family and insecurities, all come to light in this fine book. He sheds light on a world most of us can only speculate about - the tantalising world of screenplays, movie deals, TV appearances etc., but makes most of it seem about as terrifying as a wander down to the local corner shop for a pint of milk. And this is no bad thing. He definitely name drops, but in such a casual pleasant way that you hardly notice it. For instance when he frequently refers to his friend "George", you have to keep reminding yourself that this is George Harrison from The Beatles! There is comedy and heartbreak along the way. Be prepared.

I think my favourite moment is when he takes his 80-year-old mother to New York on Concorde and she ends up co-presenting Saturday Night Live with him on national American TV.

This book is a wonderfully easy read, you will struggle to put it down as you just want to keep going, turning the page again and again to find out what happened next. And if nothing else this book has taught me two things - 1. I cannot wait for the next volume of diaries to be published, and 2. I would really love to have Michael Palin round for tea. Perhaps he could mention it in his diaries sometime?
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VINE VOICEon 14 December 2009
Michael Palin is a man you just can't dislike (although you might think him a bit silly - see lumberjack song, parrot sketch etc). The same is true of his diary: what's not to like (apart from the fact that it's not silly at all)? He's a witty, warm, intelligent guy, and his diary is a very rapidly readable account of what it's like to be him and to move in the circles he does. There's lots about getting film scripts developed and getting films made, an astonishing amount of jet-setting (considering that when I watched his adventures abroad in various documentaries he seemed quite an innocent abroad), plenty about fellow Pythons and quite a bit about his mother and family. I haven't seen most of the films that Palin was working on when he wrote this diary, but that doesn't detract from it: I couldn't put it down and had read the whole fat book within a week.

It's not prurient, heart-breaking or laugh-a-minute. But, like so much of Michael Palin's work, it is sensitive, well-observed, down-to-earth and studded with pithy wit. It's just a pleasure to be in his company. No surprise that he seems the most popular Python within the group, and he gets on with all of them (with the possible exception of Graham Chapman, who may have been too zany for anyone on this planet to really connect with). Palin is self-effacing but not *too* nice - he bristles when he's being taken advantage of and stands up for himself, and it's nice to see him land the occasional punch. He also delivers what all good celeb diarists should - nice character portraits that show the human side of figures we know and love.

What did surprise me was just how much hobnobbing celebs do with each other - Palin is forever "bumping into" household names like Richard Branson and Rupert Murdoch - so the diary is rich in characters, not to mention the Pythons and others involved in his films, like Alan Bennett, Maggie Smith and Denholm Elliot. Another surprise was just how professional and affable John Cleese seemed to be, compared to my Fawlty presumption!

So, Palin for President! Cleese for Vice President!
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on 30 January 2010
I really enjoyed reading the second volume of Michael Palin's diaries in which he charts the aftermath of the Python years as he moved from his success in television comedy to focus on acting and writing films and making documentaries. Palin's writing is sensitive and controlled as he wear the hats of successful performer, struggling writer and proud father and the balance between the public and the private is well-controlled. The section about the tragic death of his sister is particularly moving.
Palin manages to balance the everyday concerns such as problems with his car or decorating his house with the superstar moments such as working with Kevin Kline and Robert de Niro.
If I was being picky, I would have to say that I didn't enjoy this volume as much as the first but I'm looking forward to more.
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on 23 January 2010
This book is a must for anyone that remembers Britain in the 80s - and not only Python or Palin fans. I'm not sure I was really that aware of Michael Palin's prolific output in the 80s but I now realise that I've loved pretty much everything he's ever done. His diaries make much passing comment about events outside his own world of entertainment and very often he seems to get dragged into all sorts of causes and issues of the day. I was at the Free Nelson Mandela concert and had forgotton that Palin was on the stage that day but his diary recalls all the behind the scenes shenannigans. I once slept overnight on Southwold beach before a village cricket game and the chances are that Palin was in the Sole Bay Inn that night having a pint on one of his visits to his mother. Familiar TV shows, music, movies, plays from that era and everone who was anyone at the time seem to pass through Michael's orbit although sometimes just tantilisingly out of reach. Michael Palin comes across as a very modest man with a lot of talent and a life that seems to take him constantly by surprise. A typical day can involve a jog past Michael Foot on Parliament Hill then lunch with George Harrison, a bit of writing for his next big movie followed by the parent teachers evening at his daughter's school. Many diary entries reveal a slight anxiety about the things he hasn't managed to do with his day rather than the many things he has. The only constant in the diaries are his family and the various members of Python who become increasingly fragmented as solo and splinter projects take priority. All his thoughts are captured with quiet humour and un python like straightforwardness. Even better than his first volume of diaries!
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on 8 October 2009
Michael Palin is a writer, performer, producer, family man, and much more besides. His Halfway to Hollywood diaries reveal a tantalising insight into his life during the 1980's where he was writing screenplays (Time Bandits, The Missionary, The Meaning of Life, etc.), performing (Time Bandits, The Missionary, Brazil, A Private Function, The Dress, etc.), and producing (The Missionary). His diaries reveals his hopes, frustrations, friendships, business deals, and observations of life during the period. It also opens up the chaotic American and British film industries during the time in which video seen as a major threat to the cinemas.

Palin is a wonderful diarist, and this volume will keep fans of Michael Palin and/or Monty Python engrossed for a good while. And it serves as an excellent playlist to revist his films on DVD, something I look forward to doing ASAP.
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on 1 November 2009
Michael Palins first diaries were a thoroughly enjoyable read, and these are too. If, like me, you have enjoyed his films, Python, railways and the World travels - then Palin is an interesting chap. Diaries give us the opportunity to read behind the scenes. A bit voyeuristic really. What strikes one is the uncetainty of a writer/actors life. Films get writen, then can't get financed and so on. There seems to be a lot of travelling around looking for actors to take roles, begging for money to finance projects, an awful lot of boozy lunches (lucky chap, and all in the name of work!). Not much mention of Mrs Palin though which is a shame.
Overall a really well put together book (hardly surprising considering the author) and highly recommended. Let's have the next diaries soon please Mr Palin!
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on 31 January 2012
When this diary starts in 1980 Palin is part of Monty Python about to start "The Meaning Of Life".When the diary finishes the Pythons have disbanded,he has made some very individualistic films and is about to start,unbenkown to him,a new career as a globetrotter.whilst the travel programmes are enjoyable ,what it has meant is that no more are we treated to such funny and original works as "The Missionary" and "A Private Function".however one can well understand his reluctance to continue with the frustrating life of trying to make films,however rewarding they may be.Continually revising the script,finding the actors only for the finance to fall through.The book is on the whole an enjoyable read.Although in the course of 632pages you can get irritated at him on a number of occasions.
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on 27 February 2014
Palin's life was less focused in this second decade of diaries, with python behind him, he forges forward with handmade films and becomes more of a gun for hire, a writer and observer of the social scene. His publicity trips take him from New York to Prague, Russia to Rutland as the idea of travel journalism and round the world documentaries slowly grows. There's great fun to be had with Alan Bennett and Terry's Gilliam and Jones, Cleese and co, and tragedy too, in a doomed attempt to help his depressed sister. The least interesting parts are when he's co opted to Transport 2000 as spokesman and he cannot wait to untangle himself. Always lively, positive and kind, Palin is your ideal companion to show biz life in the Eighties.
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