Length: 271 pages
Start Date: Sometime in 2001-2
Finished Date: Sometime in 2001-2
Where From: Chapters-Indigo
Why Read: I’m a Simpsons fangirl :oD Nearly any conversation can be subtitled, “This reminds of that episode of The Simpsons when…” This was the first of several major books written on The Simpsons & I wanted to learn about the show from an inside perspective.
Summary: An anecdotal look back at the first 10 or so years of The Simpsons through the eyes of Bart Simpson and his alter ego, voice actor Nancy Cartwright.
Any Simpsons fan will like this book. Even a casual viewer will find it enjoyable. If you can’t stand the show…why are you reading this review? Ay Carumba! Just kidding :oD But, I wouldn’t bother if you’re averse to the long-running satirical cartoon series, as the majority of the book is about voice actor Nancy Cartwright’s long career as the voice of devilish imp and pop cultural icon Bart Simpson.
A nice, short autobiography of Cartwright’s childhood in Ohio, early forays in voice-over work on local radio, her mentorship with Daws Butler (the voice of Yogi Bear among others), and a variety of small roles, both live action and voice over before getting to the crux of her career: The Simpsons. Starting with bit sketches on The Tracey Ullman Show and leading into their independent stint as Fox’s Sunday night cartoon-sitcom, Cartwright paints an insider’s picture of the show’s development.
Stories of interacting with celebrity voice-over guests will charm the pants off you. My favourites are an unwillingness to correct Kirk Douglas’ script reading, an unexpected twist of fate in a shy moment with Meryl Streep, and a hilarious two-word rehearsal read by Elizabeth Taylor, who gives Maggie a naughty first word! Cartwright also puts to rest any rumours that doubt the true identities of Sam Etic (yes, it really was Dustin Hoffman) and John Jay Smith (yes, it really was late The King of Pop). An appendix lists major guest stars and recurring roles from the show that will get you back into rerun fever or at least rent the prime seasons on DVD (I love #s 2-10).
I was very moved by her memories of hearing the devastating news of Phil Hartman’s murder, whose regular roles as Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz were neither replaced nor explained away, but simply never seen again as no one but Hartman could give them life. Cartwright also touches on friendships with Homer, Marge, and Lisa (a.k.a. Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, and Yeardley Smith), the Emmy awards experience, and the cultural impact of the show.
A sweet end gesture comes in the form of a flipbook-style cartoon in the bottom right corner from page 161 to the end. Even if you’re not keen on buying the book, find a copy & flip through it. It’s very heartwarming :o)
Overall, I was more impressed with Chris Turner’s Planet Simpson, which goes into more detail about individual episodes and the show’s cultural impact, but you cannot beat the inside scoop from Bart herself :oD
Rank: (A)- Very Good, Recommend