In our monthly book club, we discuss whatever we happen to be reading and ask everyone in the comments to do the same. What Are You Reading This Month?
Woke Up This Morning: The Definitive Oral History Of The Sopranos by Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa
The Sopranos oral history by Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa is an extension of their popular podcast, Talking Sopranos, and don’t you forget it—not that you could. Woke Up This Morning (November 2, William Morrow) reads like a transcript of the podcast or, at the very least, outtakes from it. That’s not to say it’s boring. Imperioli and Schirripa’s interviews with the show’s cast and crew, including heavy hitters like Edie Falco, David Chase, and Steve Buscemi, are frequently funny and insightful. There is no shortage of late-night tales from the production or moving tributes to James Gandolfini here. While not wholly essential for fans of The Sopranos or Talking Sopranos, Woke Up This Morning will probably end up under the tree this year anyway, and with it, a handful of hilarious Tony Sirico stories that make the whole thing worthwhile. Still, of all the ways to hear these two talk Sopranos, which includes the podcast, speaking tours, and fan conventions, Woke Up This Morning doesn’t feel like the optimal one. [Matt Schimkowitz]
All Of The Marvels (October 12, Penguin) is Douglas Wolk’s attempt to read all 27,000 or so in-continuity Marvel comics published since 1961, and then cogently explain them to the reader. It could have been an exercise in any number of nerdy indulgences: snobbery, gatekeeping, masochism, navel-gazing, take your pick. Instead, longtime comics and music critic Wolk has penned a love letter to the best that the thousands of people who’ve contributed to this gargantuan serial narrative have had to offer (while keeping a firm eye on the missteps that have dotted the company’s near-century in operation). Warmly written and informative without being overwhelming, Wolk’s book operates both as a primer on characters ranging from the obvious to the obscure—if you’re curious about the origins of this fall’s break-out star, Shang-Chi, Wolk has you covered—as well as a log of insightful ruminations on what the Marvel story, in all its far-flung, digressive glory, is actually “about.” [William Hughes]
The Storyteller by Dave Grohl
The title is a bit of a misnomer. Dave Grohl, former Nirvana drummer, current Foo Fighters frontman, and one of the last remaining old-guard rock star dudes, certainly has stories to tell. And the ones he does share in his memoir, The Storyteller (Dey Street, October 5), can be pretty entertaining at times: stranger-than-fiction experiences from the touring life, the surreal nature of fame and the access it grants you (not one, but two U.S. presidents make appearances), and the unique day-to-day of life as a world-famous musician.
But terming yourself “the” storyteller suggests a definitive role as the chronicler of your life, and there are some pretty big gaps here. Anyone hoping for a revealing and open recounting of the last tumultuous years of Nirvana, recording In Utero, or the group’s final tours, is out of luck: After just 40 pages (out of nearly 400) largely dedicated to joining the band and recording Nevermind, Grohl jumps to after Cobain’s death. And for someone who writes as though he casually treats his personal life like an open book, Grohl really doesn’t: At one point he references being in the middle of a divorce—which, given he never even mentions his ex-wife’s name, let alone anything about their relationship or the existence of his marriage, can make the reader go, “Wait, what?” His writing is exactly as you’d expect—loose, easy to read, riddled with clichés and fatherly platitudes about family and what’s really important in life—it certainly seems to capture his voice. If only that voice were a little more forthcoming about things besides the life-changing nature of music, dude. [Alex McLevy]