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A charming look at a cherished American show.

A cartoon pioneer walks us down his Memory Lane.

In 1988, an at-the-time extremely progressive, heavily funded Fox network asked Matt Groening and Sam Simon to create a cartoon. Not believing that the show would be a success, they wrote scripts that would please them rather than imaginary viewers. But The Simpsons became a hit and made their creation a 20th-century institution. Reiss (Santa's Eleven Months Off, 2007, etc.) joined the crew of writers after many rejections for other positions. The Simpsons was not his first choice. During this time, he worked closely with the two creators, learning nearly everything through them. “A writers’ room is a delicate thing—it’s not enough to be funny; you also have to get along with everyone,” he writes. “One irritating or obstinate writer can bring the entire machinery of a show to a halt.” The author breaks down his story just like he would organize an episode of the show: in three acts. He takes us from his early days in the writer’s room to his subsequent excessive weight gain as a devoted writer who paid little attention to self-care, the various failed and successful visits he made to campuses around the country to discuss the show, and the behind-the-scenes nitty-gritty of production. Interspersed throughout are “Burning Questions,” assumedly those that people have asked him over the years. Each time, Reiss provides both a question and answer that injects the text with entertaining humor. “The Simpsons thrives on human stupidity,” writes the author. “The dumber people get, the better our show is.” Always honest, playful, and engaging, the book will provide fans with deep insight into the show’s history but also into its daily production and future. Superfans might even be tempted to go back to the first episode and experience the show all over again.

A charming look at a cherished American show.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-274803-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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