February 22, 2010

I used to read constantly. In the last two years, I have found it very difficult to read anything. I used to have a policy about finishing everything I start. Recently, I find it difficult to finish any book easily, if I manage to read it all the way through.

Last year, in late summer, I received the eighth volume of Walt's People: Talking Disney with the Artists who Knew Him by Didier Ghez, also the man behind the Disney History blog. After reading the contents and dedication to Emru Townsend, founder of Frames Per Second, I thought to myself, "Surely I will read this soon," as I put it on the top of my pile.

And there it stayed for several months, as life sped on.

I'd read previous volumes and knew I was in for a treat. Two weeks ago I reminded myself of that, and during one of my busiest times ever, I took the time to read this latest volume. Walt's People is an anthology of about three dozen interviews with different people who knew Walt Disney, interviewed by different people, including animation historians and other animators, over quite a span of time.

I am probably the last reviewer to mention this book, but I had to chime in:

I couldn't put it down. What's great about this series is that these interviews are not chopped up versions of interviews, with the author's tracts including a lot of supposition instead of actual direct quotes from the subjects. On paper, this is the closest we get to being in the room.

Most of the interviews brought knew information to light or recontextualized information as I previously understood it. Some just made me laugh. The interview that stood out for me was Carl Barks. You definitely get a sense of the man through his words. Also notable were the recollections of Retta Davidson. Some interviews are interesting because they give you all the goods; others are equally successful because you feel like you need to know more. Hopefully, this book will answer many questions for readers but also lead them to ask more, and perhaps spur on future historians.

Luckily, volume 9 is in the works. So start reading volume 8 now in preparation.

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