Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book #104: Live From New York

Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By Its Stars, Writers and GuestsTitle: Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Life
Author: Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller
Enjoyment Rating: 6/10
Source: Ordered used from Amazon
Referral: Back cover of the Shales/Miller ESPN book

When we went to Alaska, Ed took Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller's new book Those Guys Have All the Fun to read. He set a goal to read a chapter a day (which sounds pretty wimpy until you realize that the chapters are a hundred pages each), and I felt that by the end of each day, I'd read half the chapter too because he kept showing little tidbits to me. The Shales/Miller method is one where it's easy to show little tidbits, because basically they interview people, and then they string together paragraphs from their interviews in order to construct the text. There's very little actually written by the authors, except for the chapter intros. The work comes in deciding where to put the quotes so they create a cohesive narrative, show conflict, or give insight into character.

Live From New York, is (unsurprisingly for anyone who is familiar with the title) a history of Saturday Night Live. I've been watching the show as long as I can remember (it premiered the year I was born) and we still end up in bed most Saturday nights trying to stay up until Weekend Update. It's definitely an interesting book, and at 600+ pages, I learned more than I ever cared to know about SNL. In fact, Lorne Michaels haunted my dreams for several nights after I finished reading. It's a good book for an SNL fan, but I think you'd have to be a pretty serious fan to get through all of it. Or else you'd have to be someone who loved SNL in its heyday. The book was published in 2002, and reading it made me realize that it belongs to that category of nonfiction books that becomes dated very quickly. There was only one Amy Poehler reference. Tina Fey was quoted just a few times. This was pre-30 Rock, pre-Andy Samberg, pre-Seth Meyers. I missed reading about last decade, but I don't know if I'd want to get through 200 more pages to have the pleasure of hearing about the current story.

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