Monday, May 9, 2011

Sopranos. Books.

Here are a few more:

1. The Sopranos Family Cookbook, 2002, by Allen Rucker. Recipes by Michele Scicolone.

Fun. Half actual recipes, half "interviews" with various characters from the show; fans of the show will dig this, a lot. Great photography, too (opening inside cover is Livia burning the mushrooms). I've honestly only made two things from this cookbook, the Sunday Gravy recipe and Totoni (almond cream dessert) but they were both amazing. Next time I need to blackmail someone I may just look up the Ricott Pie Carmela used, that looked pretty good, too.

2. The Sopranos, A Family History, 2000, by Allen Rucker.

Mostly this is good because of the photography, but there's a nice interview with David Chase toward the back as well as a complete episode list and synopsis, but the volume I have is only current through the second season. There is some interesting "history" included, stuff you won't really get from the show, about Livia and Junior, but some of the other material (FBI office memos, journal entries, Meadow's chat transcriptions, etc.) seems a little . . . cheesy. I don't know, you can keep the attitude light when it comes to food, but the rest of this subject is very dark and sinister. I'm not saying it needs to be more Godfather-ish or anything, but, actually, yes. This needed to be more God-fatherish and less, I don't know, flighty and Jenny McCarthy.

3. A Sitdown With The Sopranos, 2002, edited by Regina Barreca.

This was heavy. Less so than the Lavery (This Thing of Ours) but nice, interesting reading. The best things about it were that all the essays were written by Italian Americans (Berreca, Flamini, Parini, Pestana, and so on)---it was awesome hearing what they had to say about a narrative that has caused some riffs within the culture, and secondly, only about half of the contributing authors were professors. As a result, the essays were much more fun to read and less of a downer than the critical essays in the Lavery. More personal stories + hardly any mention of post-modern = WINNER. I liked it. Jay Parini's essay, The Cultural Work of The Sopranos was easily my favorite:

"In general, The Sopranos holds up a mirror to American middle-class life, and the distortions viewed in the mirror seem exaggerated for the sake of narrative effect. But these effects are not nearly as distorted as we like to imagine. Though comprising less than twenty-five percent of the global village, we consume over seventy percent of the world's resources. Our gaudy lifestyle, with its insatiable thirst for resources, presupposes a level of violence: against nature, against our world neighbors, against each other. In The Sopranos, this violence is normalized, made to appear casual, unremarkable."

You said it, man. The more I watch (well, re-watch) the more I realize: The Mafia obviously isn't very nice, but capitalism honestly isn't very nice, either.