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"The Survival of Soap Opera" anyone else read? (And other recent soap books)


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I remember when this collection of essays on soaps was being made, there was some discussion on it, but now can't find anything. I know that one of our very own posters (I'm sorry, I'm forgetting who but I think it's edgeofnight) is interviewed for one chapter about his memories of The Edge of Night.

Anyway, I'm doing a paper about sexuality, audience reaction and daytime soaps, and came across the book in our university library--I had kinda forgotten about it, especially when I saw how much it cost (due to being on a smaller university press imprint, I assume). So far it's a fascinating--and long--read, with a lot of different view points, and since it came out last year, very up to date. Some of the contributors are people most of us know (Sara Bibel has a short bit, as do Tom Casiello and Roger Newcomb), but there's a lot I hadn't read before. Has anyone else read it?

I also found a 1997 book called Consuming Pleasures: Active Audiences and Serial Fiction from Dickens to Soap Opera by Jennifer Hayward. It's first two sections are about earlier forms of serialized fiction and audience reactions, etc--focusing primarily on Dickens' serialized novels, and then on the popularity for a time of newspaper comic strip serials, but the last third is pretty indepth about soaps--specifically the two Hayward admits to loving and growing up on--AMC and OLTL. It's so far an interesting, and fair read too. She also touches on the early days of internet forums (back during the usenet era) and quotes some pretty funny posts, an example being the way people reacted with anger, but humour, to the hated Maria sleeps with Dimitri storyline, for example.

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It's a fascinating read, even if one of the pieces does *yawn* praise Ron Carlivati to the high heavens (granted this was written during the height of "Kish"), but I suppose it's fair enough to be each contributor's opinion. I loved reading your memories, and actually wish they had been a few pages longer.

There's one essay that also is sadly all too short about, taken by a soap watcher and scholar (she has been a fan since the radio days as a kid) who Interviewed Agnes Nixon over 6 months. It's frustratingly brief--I'd love to read the full interviews, but she alludes to the fact that only once--a sharp criticism of Carles Pratt Jr (who apparently justified characters acting out of character as a neccesary "Chemistry test" to see what would stick)--was the interviewer allowed to quote a negative thing about her colleagues Nixon said... I hope if Nixon's book about writing soaps and AMC comes to happen she'll not censor herself. (She mentions how Pratt was basically bored with the very idea of the Brott story before it even started, as well as the fact that he quickly got bored with Bianca/Reese and wanted to "chemistry test" Reese and Zack, against not only Nixon's consultation but even apparently what the oh-so-important focus groups said, those same groups also complained that stories were happening too quick before character motivation or empathy could even be formed, but apparently the network execs were happy to not listen to focus groups with such "oldfashioned" viewpoints).

Anyway, a fascinating read.

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It was, in fact, a great deal longer, but at the last minute, there was some editing done (it was not my choice). But, it was a labor of love to do it. And, within the month, I will be able to publicly share my memories of Edge at the very place where its greatest storyline ended -- at the 'Whitney estate,' where on Dec. 3, 1971, while reciting the Presidential Oath of Office, tripped down the staircase to his death. I was thrilled to speak in St. Louis, two years ago, with my fellow contributors to the book, but this upcoming trip to Pennsylvania is a 40 year dream of mine coming true.

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Appreciate your writing a note on this, Eric. I'm one of the co-authors on the collection. We were blessed with a great number of contributors: from the soap opera industry, from the online journalism/critic community, from the academic world (both well known scholars and up-and-coming scholars interested in soaps), and from the fan community. As such, of course, it led to a lot of shorter "perspectives" pieces interspersed with longer academic studies/considerations. But glad to hear that you found it a great read. We were frustrated not to have a paperback book at the outset, considering how timely and relevant the book was when it came out in late 2010. But we were glad that a few months back they released it in paperback, and glad to hear that the pieces still seem contemporary. The pricepoint for the original ($50) was completely out of our control and was really the cost of getting it published. We hope the $30 and $28.50 for paperback and Kindle is a little more palatable for soap opera fans (even though I know it's still steep), since we had written and edited the book with an audience outside academia in mind....but unfortunately a price point that limited our traction there.

If anyone has any questions on the book our would like more info, feel free to be in touch: [email protected] It was a wonderful project, working with people like William (who commented above), although the volume could never be as long as we wanted, and we couldn't include everyone we'd like to have involved, to be sure. :) I really appreciate the feedback.

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