Review: Celebrating ‘The Sopranos’ | Book reviews and short stories


“Woke Up This Morning: The Definitive Oral History of The Sopranos” by Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa with Phil Lerman, William Morrow, 509 pages, $30.

“The Sopranos,” the groundbreaking television series that aired from 1999 to 2007 on HBO, was the first cable program to feature a deeply flawed, sociopathic main character who was still able to remain sympathetic to audiences. Tony Soprano, played by the late James Gandolfini, has become one of television’s iconic figures.

“Woke Up This Morning” is a compilation of observations and anecdotes from “Talking Sopranos,” the podcast launched in 2020 by two of the show’s stalwart cast members, Michael Imperioli who played Christopher Moltisanti, and Steve Schirripa, who played Bobby. Baccalieri. The book, like the series. can be shocking, hilarious, profane and emotional in the span of a few pages.

Those, like the reviewer, who have been gasping for each of the 86 episodes across six seasons or binge-watched them during the pandemic will find this book unlocking forgotten TV highlights. Those who didn’t like the original series or have already watched the podcasts are invited to “fuhgeddaboudit”.

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Excerpts from interviews with the cast, writers, directors, crew, and series creator David Chase illuminate and amplify the reader’s appreciation for the creative effort that goes into producing the shows . The variety of ways the cast, who were mostly Italian-born New Yorkers, got their roles is fascinating and explains much of the rapport generated by the ensemble cast.

Glimpses of the actors’ emotional response when told that their familiar characters would be “ejected” are vividly portrayed. Both authors were able to experience their own deaths on screen. Gandolfini, who died of a heart attack aged 51 in 2013, is remembered by everyone interviewed in the book.

A comedic highlight of the book is the uncensored camaraderie shared by Imperioli and Schirripa over their long affiliation with the show and their podcasts. Many of their comments sound like dialogue from 4 a.m. bar conversations.

This is a book for readers who might be curious if squids came to Earth from space or if Schirripa would score higher than a porpoise on an IQ test. A generous section of personal color photographs enhances the mood of the book.

Finally, readers will discover the meaning of the series’ controversial finale which is…

J. Kemper Campbell, MD, is a retired Lincoln ophthalmologist who lists “The Sopranos” as one of his five favorite TV shows along with “Rescue Me,” “Justified,” “Breaking Bad,” and “Game of Thrones.” “.

Alycia R. Lindley