Martin's book is a companion to the best series of the 1990s and 2000s. If you're watching (or re-watching) The Wire, Deadwood, Breaking Bad,Mad Men or Six Feet Under this summer, Martin has the inside scoop on how these shows got made. And for those of you who went back to watch early episodes of The Sopranos in a state of shock after James Gandolfini's sudden death in June, this book will be irresistible.
Martin has the inside scoop, in part because in 2007, the GQ correspondent was hired by HBO to write an official behind-the-scenes companion to The Sopranos. He was given incredible access to the show's production of its final season.
Martin is a deft writer who used his contacts wisely – which is to say he doesn't fall in love with the people who granted him access. There's no glossing over the flaws here. Instead, the actors, the suits and, particularly, the showrunners/executive producers are presented in their full egomaniacal glory.
The book begins with the disappearance of James Gandolfini while The Sopranos was in expensive mid-shoot: "one cold winter's evening in January 2002, Tony Soprano went missing and a small portion of the universe ground to a halt."
Gandolfini was having an increasingly difficult time plumbing the depths of Tony Soprano. Martin describes:
[Gandolfini was in] a self-directed rage as he struggled to remember lines in front of the camera – he would berate himself in disgust, curse, smack the back of his own head …"