700 Sundays, by Billy Crystal

Cover ImageFinished 8-18-09, rating 4/5, memoir, pub. 2005

Now you can’t pick the family that you’re born into.  That’s just the roll of the dice.  It’s just luck.  But if I could pick these people, I would pick them over and over again because they were lunatics.  Fun lunatics.  What a crazy group of people, and great characters too.  It was like the Star Wars bar, but everybody had accents.

Chapter 2

Actor and comedian Billy Crystals writes a touching memoir of the 700 Sundays that he had with his father before before his death when Billy was 15.  Although this is a tribute to his parents, it is also a celebration of his family.  He has an impressive and accomplished extended family and his love for them is evident on every page. 

His family owned Commodore Music Shop in midtown Manhattan and because of the connections made there Billy grew up surrounded by artists.  He included snapshots of these meetings and relationships.  My favorite may have been when the great Billie Holiday took him to see his first movie and he watched Shane sitting on her lap.  These stories added to the book, but were not the focus. 

One page I was laughing out loud as he discovered his newfound manhood and on the next I was in tears as I read about the last time Billy saw his father.  There was humor (most of it successful), but it really reached out and touched my heart as I raced to the end. 

I will admit that there were several chapters at the beginning that I found boring, but the second half of the book made up for it.  A man who loves and appreciates his family, like Billy, is one to admire.

It is relatively short and includes photos of the people he’s writing about.  He also performed this book on Broadway in a one man show and I wish I’d had the chance to see it.  I highly recommend this memoir of his memories with his father and mother.