A true insider’s guide filled with sweet surprises for fans and the brainy charm to make new ones.

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WELCOME TO DUNDER MIFFLIN

THE ULTIMATE ORAL HISTORY OF THE OFFICE

A comprehensive view of the landmark TV show.

Don’t be fooled by Baumgartner’s character on The Office, the lovable oaf Kevin Malone. This definitive oral history he created with executive producer Silverman is as sharp and well crafted as the groundbreaking comedy that inspired it. The American version of The Officemade stars out of those on both sides of the camera. Steve Carell and John Krasinski became A-list celebrities, while creator and showrunner Greg Daniels has developed hits like Parks and Recreation. Baumgartner gets all of them, as well as nearly everyone else involved with the show, to talk about how it came together and why it became such an enduring success. (Notably absent from the discussions are writers/actors Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak.) Because he was a part of the process, Baumgartner is able to steer the conversations in well-informed ways—e.g., explaining why the ratings were even more important than usual to the experimental show and why they dictated NBC’s approvals of only a handful episodes at a time in the early years. Because Baumgartner’s Kevin was not the fake documentary’s central character (Carell’s awkward regional manager Michael Scott) or part of the love story (Krasinski’s Jim and Jenna Fischer’s Pam) at its core, he is able to observe more of the big picture than those in the eye of the publicity storm. He and Silverman also do a great job showing how shifting viewing habits—especially The Office’s stunning popularity on iTunes and now in reruns on streaming services—pushed it to new levels of popularity. Comedy is rarely simple, but the authors show how complex it was to make such a forward-thinking product. The contributors discuss their wide-ranging influences, including Molière, Aristophanes’ The Frogs, the visual style of Survivor, and the comedic timing of King of the Hill. They also discuss the agonizing decision-making processes behind the show’s major moments.

A true insider’s guide filled with sweet surprises for fans and the brainy charm to make new ones.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-308219-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Custom House/Morrow

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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

NIGHT

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 virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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