Picks and Pans Review: Absolutely Mahvelous
by Billy Crystal with Dick Schaap
This silly book reads like the afterthought of a crafty agent who has already landed his quota of movie and TV deals for the actor-comic: "Oh, yeah, we'll get Billy to do a book, see. Nah, it won't take much work—a few laughs, a lot of names—just a quickie deal." The product, in any case, is a superficial and self-absorbed 128-page bore that probably will disappoint even hard-core Crystal fans. Crystal never seems to have made up his mind about whether this should be an autobiography or a reprint of his comedy routines, so we get some of both. There are jokes, anecdotes from his hungry years (and a few from his successful ones) and liberal doses of name-dropping: Mickey Mantle, Woody Allen and Orson Welles are among those cited. What the book lacks is intelligent insight into the comedy business and Crystal's place in it, and any meaningful glimpses into his psyche. Sorry, Billy, this effort is anything but mahvelous. (Putnam, $9.95)
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