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Summary

Unleash your inner Soprano and relive all your favorite moments with this companion guide to the award-winning television series The Sopranos.

We all know and love The Sopranos, one of the most important television dramas to ever hit the small screen, having run for six seasons on HBO. The story of the Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano balancing his family life with his role as the leader of a criminal organization pioneered decades of genre-bending "peak TV". 

Now, Off the Back of a Truck takes you one step further into the world of Tony Soprano and his families, offering an Italian potluck of fresh and fun takes that any true fan can get lost in for hours. 

Off the Back of a Truck includes: 

  • New looks at everyone’s favorite episodes, scenes, and characters
  • All 92 deaths analyzed, evaluated, and ranked
  • An investigation of true crimes behind the families’ schemes 
  • An exploration of movies and shows that inspired The Sopranos 
  • Reflections on the use of music, food, and fashion from writers who are also huge fans 
  • A provocative conversation about what happens in the controversial ending 

This book takes you on a journey through the six seasons you have watched time and time again - but it's organized so you can dip in at any time, at any place. Roam around as though you’re in Tony’s backyard for a BBQ.  

©2020 Nick Braccia (P)2020 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

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  • Buretto
  • 02-04-21

Misses and a few hits

I guess I'm not a true blue diehard fan, then. Despite promising that the book won't contain mere dissections of episodes, they essentially do just that by categorizing chapters rather than running purely chronologically. Examining therapy, the mafia, New Jersey, Americanized Italian cuisine, they provide moderately interesting commentary for good chunks of the book. Though a bit of sycophancy might be expected, the degree of worship does get tiring. I nearly had to jump out by the time they get to the rating of every single murder in the show by narrative impact, how cinematic, performance, surprise. (No prizes for guessing which rated a perfect score of 40, even though her death isn't actually onscreen. Like the rest of the book, it's predictable).

The deconstruction of David Chase's references and allusions are particularly numbing, as they are presented as if the listener is being schooled about deep truths. (Who knew there was subtext to the lives and deaths of Pie-O-My and Tracee?..... hint: literally everyone.) I knew there was trouble when on a couple of occasions the authors refer to characters "losing them" because of their actions, which is to say they felt they were no longer sympathetic. This came as a surprise to me, as I never thought Tony Soprano, nor any of his motley gang were particularly likable. The brilliance of the show and its writing is showing that even someone as vile as Tony Soprano does have human emotions, but never once did I believe he was the good guy. Therefore I never felt betrayed or let down. I can't imagine anyone actually admiring the character. I think that's why the author's calling him an "anti-hero" is so misplaced. He's nothing of the sort. An anti-hero is, at their core, good, and must overcome cynicism or selfishness. He's the opposite, the flashes of kindness or altruism must be suppressed for his true nature to flourish, the villain. Perhaps, anti-villain is a better description of the character.

There's an odd overestimation of the show's influence on pop culture as well. Apart from the random "fuggedabowdit", I don't see late stage mafia vernacular permeating the culture. And despite Ms. Tremaine's assertion, though people may obsess over the mafia, and crime stories, nobody has ever obsessed over New Jersey, no matter how many Springsteen albums they own.

Some of the more puzzling things, though, were the strange pronunciations. I normally don't focus on such things, but this was truly odd. Sometimes strictly Italian pronunciations, sometimes strictly non-Italian pronunciations, sometimes just ponderous, like referring to Richard Widmark as "Vidmark" and Victor Borge as "Borja". And for people who claimed to watch the show, you'd think they'd know the name was Aprile, not April. Maybe it's just a meta joke.

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  • brian
  • 02-12-20

A must-have for Sopranos fans

A great look at inspirations behind The Sopranos, and so much more. 10/10. Excellent narrations even if they are ones I haven't heard before.

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