Book Review: Like a Soprano by David Starkey

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  • September 8, 2015

Like a SopranoReviewed by Arthur Kayzakian

David Starkey’s Like a Soprano is an impressive episode-by-episode book of poems based on the original HBO series The Sopranos—and never misses a dark heartbeat of the entire show. Starkey captures the inner voice of Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini R.I.P) as if he’s speaking to his therapist in each poem; I can hear Tony’s Italian accent in Starkey’s brilliant use of poetic language. He truly digs up the body of each episode, throws it in the trunk of a black Buick and takes us for a ride. I literally logged on to my hbogo.com and watched “Isabella” again, the twelfth episode in season one which happens to be the twelfth poem in section one of Starkey’s book. In his poem, “Isabella,” Starkey reenacts the psychoanalytical tribulations of Tony Soprano’s imagination of what seems to be a longing or a desire for the archetype of his mother: “She’s the tenderhearted mother you never had, her voice like church  / bells ringing, her breath a lemon-scented breeze.” With quick-witted language, like that of an Italian mobster, Starkey’s precise language that demonstrates tasteful texture not only matches that of the original episode, but allows the reader to delve deeper into the psyche of Tony Soprano. Like a Soprano urges me to revisit the series because it continues the series in poetic form. I don’t know about you, but I love Tony and nothing gives me greater pleasure than to indulge in a poetic perspective of his character. If you love poetry and mob stories, then there is nothing more appealing than to be in the mind of a crime boss like Tony Soprano written in verse. I am an instant fan of David Starkey’s untouchable poems dedicated to James Gandolfini. Like a Soprano is by far a must read.