I am of the opinion that reviewing a book about a topic one is familiar with is an exceptionally difficult thing to do. After all, it is often quite hard to surprise an “expert” with new information on the topic of his or her expertise, especially when that information is of a historical nature. And that’s the dilemma I face when reviewing The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company. I know Pixar, and it’s history, very well; I likely don’t represent the average reader.
Upon first hearing about The Pixar Touch, I was interested by the concept but not particularly thrilled, for the reasons above. Also, there is already in print an excellent authorised resource dealing with Pixar’s history, To Infinity and Beyond!: The Story of Pixar Animation Studios, written by Pixar associate Karen Paik, who authored The Art of Ratatouille book.
When I received my advance copy of Touch in the mail last week, I didn’t know what to expect. I soon found out. The Pixar Touch is a very informative book, even for a person knowledgeable in the subject. Having finished reading the book, I can say that I came away better informed on many aspects of Pixar’s roots, this due to the inclusion of various previously unpublished anecdotes. Most would find an even greater amount of the facts contained in the book to be new to them.
Touch delves deeply into the company’s history, providing a great amount of detail, even more so than To Infinity and Beyond!. Also, it is unrivalled when it comes to recounting the various feuds from Pixar’s past. From Steve Jobs’ near fistfight with co-founder Alvy Ray Smith (who left the company in 1991) to Roy E. Disney’s apt description of former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, the book did not fail to fill my large appetite for info on the nasty.
Thus, as much as I hate sounding like those talk show hosts who plug a book or movie or whatever, I would certainly recommend that anyone with an interest in Pixar –especially the corporate or really behind-the-scenes side of things– read this book.
However, Touch does have it’s faults. For one, I would have liked to see some humour throughout the book, or at least a greater number of humorous stories. That would have contrasted well with the more serious aspects of the book. Also, at times, Price speaks sympathetically about Pixar nemesis Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks Animation, a known jerk. He writes: “The studio’s treatment of Katzenberg in the book [To Infinity and Beyond!] was perhaps ungracious considering his role in giving Pixar its entry into feature animation.” Yeah, right. Poor Katzenberg, what a victim.
Nevertheless, all things considered, I do regard The Pixar Touch to be an enjoyable, very engrossing and different read. Just another key to the Pixar puzzle.
Be sure to check back soon for my long-awaited Q&A with the book’s author, David A. Price.