difficult_men_book_coverI’ve always enjoyed Brett Martin’s work for GQ. This piece he wrote on visiting Tokyo with the unlikely trio of Aziz Ansari, James Murphy and David Chang is probably my favorite thing they’ve ever published. After reading an excerpt from his new book Difficult Men, that looks back at the recent history of television I marked the release date in my calendar and thanks to the Brooklyn Public Library was able to get it soon after. For me, the book was like intellectual candy. I respect and relate to Martin’s point of view and he’s able to report with surprising access on some of my favorite shows – The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men and the recently wrapped Breaking Bad with sharp insight and compelling anecdotes. The book’s well-chosen title refers to both the lead characters on these shows as well as the men who created them. As a writer it was inspiring, as a reader I couldn’t get enough. Even chapters on shows I never watched (The Shield) or didn’t particularly like (Deadwood) were fascinating. I would read three more books just like it. Martin also uses the stories of these individual shows to make a convincing argument that modern episodic television has become the dominant cultural art from. It’s an assertion I certainly agree with and important to remember pre-Sopranos what TV looked like and where it’s place in the cultural hierarchy was (hint: low). If you’ve ever sought out a recap on a favorite show or dreamed about writing for TV there isn’t a better book that I’ve come across. I plan to add a copy to my personal shelves immediately.

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