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Halfway to Hollywood: Diaries 1980–1988
By Michael Palin
(Thomas Dunne Books, $33)

As writer, comedian and Monty Python member Michael Palin wove his way out of British comedies and into a Hollywood career, he kept meticulous notes on his life. The fascinating Halfway to Hollywood, which is his second volume of personal reflections, covers Palin’s life from 1980 to 1988. A keen diarist, Palin makes the ordinary sparkle, whether he’s writing about redubbing curse words in A Fish Called Wanda or how his family named their cat, Betty. It’s a most enjoyable look at a great talent’s time of transition.