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700 Sundays Hardcover – October 31, 2005

4.6 out of 5 stars 294 customer reviews

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Hardcover, October 31, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Actor and comedian Billy Crystal has forged a highly successful career by portraying other people in movies like When Harry Met Sally… and City Slickers. But in 700 Sundays, a memoir based on his one-man Broadway play of the same name, Crystal tells his own story, dissecting an often complex relationship with his father and how that relationship resonated in other aspects of his life. His father, Jack Crystal was an influential jazz concert promoter and operated an influential jazz record label, affording his son an opportunity to tell stories of being taken to his first movie by Billie Holliday and seeing his grandmother suggest that Louis Armstrong simply "try coughing it up." But Jack died when his son was fifteen years old, soon after a forever-unresolved argument between the two, leaving Billy to cope with crushing grief while simultaneously and perhaps ironically trying to launch a career in comedy. This lends 700 Sundays much needed gravity in a volume that is packed with zingy one-liners and whimsical observations that serve to illustrate the comedy career Crystal forged, while also providing some decent laughs. Interestingly, there is very little reference to the better known accomplishments of Crystal’s Hollywood career as the author chooses to focus instead on the seemingly mundane but highly entertaining aspects of his Long Island roots. Though 700 Sundays (the name comes from Crystal’s estimation of how many Sundays he got to spend with his father) is packaged here in book form, it reads like a piece of theater and, more specifically, like a selection of memories about a father, lovingly and touchingly re-told by his loving son. --John Moe

From Publishers Weekly

Reading the book version of comedian Crystal's Broadway solo show can be initially off-putting. The jokes he uses to warm up his audience (on why Jews eat Chinese food on Sunday nights, his complaints about his circumcision, the nasal pronunciation of Jewish names, etc.) are distinctly unfunny on the page. But once Crystal is finished with shtick and on to the story of his marvelous Long Island family, readers will be glad they can savor it at their own pace. There's the story of Crystal's uncle Milt Gabler, who started the Commodore music label and recorded Billie Holiday singing "Strange Fruit" when no one else would. Then there's the Sunday afternoon when Holiday takes young Crystal to see his first movie at what later became the Fillmore East. There's even Louis Armstrong at the Crystal family seder, with Crystal's grandma telling the gravelly-voiced singer, "Louis, have you tried just coughing it up?" At the heart of these tales is Crystal's father, the man who bought his little boy a tape recorder when he announced he wanted to be a comedian and didn't scold when he recycled off-color borscht belt routines for family gatherings. Crystal's dad worked two jobs and died young, so they had maybe 700 Sundays together—but how dear they were. Photos.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (October 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446578673
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446578677
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (294 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #474,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I bought this book at the Hudson News Stand in Grand Central Station on Saturday morning and finished it at home in Huntington Beach, California on Sunday night. My trip home across the country in 24 hours seemed like nothing compared to the sentimental journey in time that Billy Crystal took me through.

This is a book that a baby-boomer guy will enjoy with its references to the Beatles, the Yankees, the family cars of the 1950's, the first girl we fell in love with, and family outings every Sunday. While Billy took me through a Jewish version of growing up at this time, I could see some similarities with the way I went through my Japanese-American coming of age. Like Billy's family, our lives were built around the Sundays, the holidays, and summer vacations.

I've read a few negative reviews on this book which I'm sure have their place in criticizing this as a great literary piece. But this is Billy Freakin' Crystal! Mr. City Slicker and Harry of When Harry Met Sally. This is the guy who does the big award shows and Saturday Night Live. This is a regular guy of our time...one of us. This is not James Michener or Ernest Hemingway.

So read it because it's a joy to look back at our lives growing up in the 1950's and 1960's. When families didn't have much in terms of financial resources, but life was real,innocent, and darn good although lacking by today's material standards. But I'd never trade in those baby-boomer years for the shallowness that today's youth must deal with.

I hope that Billy does well as he takes his Broadway show across the country for the rest of America to enjoy. I'm glad he wrote this book and created the play. For me, it was a special adventure and one I'm so grateful for.

I hope that Billy continues to share himself with the public with his thoughts, humor, and candor.
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Format: Hardcover
If you're familiar with Billy Crystal's comic delivery, you can almost hear him narrating this book, which is the script for his one man autobiographical Broadway show of the same name. Although it loses something in translation when read, the story of Billy Crystal's "700 Sundays," the number of days he calculated he actually got to spend with his father, who worked six days a week and spent Sundays devoted to his family, prior to his sudden and unexpected death when Billy was only 15, is enjoyable reading for two reasons. In addition to the humor he injects, the author tells the remarkable story of a loving, mutually supportive, successful, "functional" family, which is refreshing. Second, the story offers some historical sense of the era in which it was written, because so many of his extended family were innovative and influential, particularly in the entertainment industry. Billy's father promoted jazz in New York, and put together iterracial bands to play at major venues. None of these threads overpower the story itself, the simple story of a son recounting his memories of the love and support he received from his father, and the effect the relationship, more than the premature loss of it, had on his life. Although it's a poignant story, the reader essentially feels uplifted.
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Format: Hardcover
The only thing that makes the Broadway performance better is the fact that Billy Crystal performed it in person on Broadway. Here, we read the script...but in reading the script, you can hear his voice, and his mannerisms come easily and readily to mind. This is a good book, true to the stage play, just as good, except we don't have Billy Crystal in person...All the pathos, joy, frustration and delight, the happiness and security of family. That's what this book is about, his family and our families, and Billy Crystal makes it come alive for all of us. Don't miss the Broadway show (now touring) and don't miss this book.
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Format: Hardcover
I expected to laugh---and I did. I expected to enjoy the stories---and I did. I did not expect to get all teary-eyed and choked up---but I did.

I did not know that Billy Crystal grew up knowing famous musicians and athletes. But he did: his father, his uncle, and his grandfather owned a music store and the Commodore jazz label, and were great friends with the jazz and pop and rock greats. Billy saw his first movie while sitting on Billie Holiday's lap. At his first baseball game, he sat in Louis Armstrong's seats at Yankee Stadium.

But it's not the relationships with famous people that make his life and this book memorable. His life, of course, is memorable for his own achievements in comedy. His book is memorable because of its touching portrayal of his relationships with his father, his mother, and the rest of his large and loving extended family.

For those of us who grew up, as Billy Crystal did, in the 1950s and 1960s, for those of us who've lost a parent or both of them, for those of us who've already lived more than half of our expected span of years, this book is a funny, touching, sentimental, and ultimately optimistic echo of our own sometimes painful journey through life.

Now I want to go watch some Billy Crystal movies.
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Format: Paperback
Billy Crystal is one of those comedians that can make me laugh out loud when I am all by myself. I took it to a Doctor's appointment and found myself giggling in the reception area.......a little embarassing. Billy is terrific.
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