Essential for fans and the definitive celebration of a show that made history by knowing the rules and breaking every one of...

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THE SOPRANOS SESSIONS

Everything you ever wanted to know about America’s favorite Mafia serial—and then some.

New York magazine TV critic Seitz (Mad Men Carousel: The Complete Critical Companion, 2015, etc.) and Rolling Stone TV critic Sepinwall (Breaking Bad 101: The Complete Critical Companion, 2017, etc.) gather a decade’s worth of their smart, lively writing about New Jersey’s most infamous crime family. As they note, The Sopranos was first shot in 1997, helmed by master storyteller David Chase, of Northern Exposure and Rockford Files renown, who unveiled his creation at an odd time in which Robert De Niro had just appeared in a film about a Mafioso in therapy. The pilot was “a hybrid slapstick comedy, domestic sitcom, and crime thriller, with dabs of ’70s American New Wave grit. It is high and low art, vulgar and sophisticated.” It barely hinted at what was to come, a classic of darkness and cynicism starring James Gandolfini, an actor “obscure enough that, coupled with the titanic force of his performance, it was easy to view him as always having been Tony Soprano.” Put Gandolfini together with one of the best ensembles and writing crews ever assembled, and it’s small wonder that the show is still remembered, discussed, and considered a classic. Seitz and Sepinwall occasionally go too Freudian (“Tony is a human turd, shat out by a mother who treats her son like shit”), though sometimes to apposite effect: Readers aren’t likely to look at an egg the same way ever again. The authors’ interviews with Chase are endlessly illuminating, though we still won’t ever know what really happened to the Soprano family on that fateful evening in 2007. “It’s not something you just watch,” they write. “It’s something you grapple with, accept, resist, accept again, resist again, then resolve to live with”—which, they add, is “absolutely in character for this show.”

Essential for fans and the definitive celebration of a show that made history by knowing the rules and breaking every one of them.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3494-6

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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