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Chanoff OlliFrom the first page of The Simpsons Guide to Springfield, which is a big color picture of Attorney Lionel Hutz on a Vespa, teeth bared and eyes ablaze, chasing an ambulance under an arch that says "Welcome to Springfield," you know you're in for a good time. For casual "Simpsons" enjoyers, this book is a lot of fun -- a tour through the city of Springfield with great drawings and classic "Simpsons" humor. But for true connoisseurs (and you know who you are, you unhealthily devoted lunatics who endlessly make obscure "Simpsons" references, to the delight of your fellow fanatics and the annoyance of your less enlightened acquaintances, and who pause the VCR while watching prerecorded episodes so you can see what some list or sign that flashed on the screen too fast to read actually says), this book is an overflowing treasure trove of "Simpsons" lore.
Set up like a real guidebook, The Simpsons Guide to Springfield begins with a historical retrospective of the Greater Springfield Area, which recounts the story of how the coonskin-capped Jebediah Obediah Zacheriah Jedediah Springfield founded the city, and how in the 200 or so years since it has become a place that "due to a near-constant economic state of recession gives more bang for the tourist buck than Beirut and Tijuana combined!" After this introduction come guides to special attractions, lodging, dining, nightlife, shopping, annual events, and survival, which really just serve as excuses to take a look back at hundreds of the funniest people, places, and events from "Simpsons" episodes since the show's beginning, along with what I'd like to assume (because I've never seen them) are some new additions.
In the "Attractions" section you get descriptions of things like Duff Gardens, Barney's Bowlarama, Mt. Splashmore, Itchy and Scratchy Land, the Springfield Mystery Spot, the Ah, Fudge! Factory, Springfield's Lower East Side, and a score of others, with accompanying drawings. The dining guide lists the Frying Dutchman (owned by the salty old sea captain and sight of Homer's all-you-can-eat debacle-turned-lawsuit), Two Guys from Kabul, Wall E. Weasel's, the Municipal House of Pancakes, Chez Guevara, Luigi's ("Hey Salvatore, two more a the red slop!"), Java the Hut, and, of course, Krustyburger. The nightlife and shopping guides are the same (Moe's, the Maison Derriere, the Leftorium, the Jerky Hut, the Corpulent Cowboy). In the Annual Events calender you can read about Whacking Day, the Springfield Chili Cook-off, Scotchtoberfest -- the references go on and on.
This stuff alone constitutes "Simpsons" overload; but of course, there's a great deal more. Little sidebars contain Springfield artifacts, which range from Marge's portrait of Mr. Burns to the Stonecutters' Sacred Parchment to the silver prosthetic tongue of Jebediah Springfield. Springfield's most esteemed residents, from Apu to Dr. Nick Riviera, M.D., talk about their favorite parts of town in segments called "What's Right with Springfield?" and essays by Rev. Timothy Lovejoy ("Come for the Fun, Stay for the Guilt: A Vacationer's Guide to Worshiping in Springfield"); Kirk Van Hauten, Millhouse's divorcé dad ("Swingin' Springfield: A Bachelor's Guide to My Favorite Town"); and Bart Simpson, Esquire ("Everybody into the Cool: A Kid's Guide to Springfield").
Just like in the episodes themselves, every picture has ten jokes in it. It's almost exhausting. The Simpsons Guide to Springfield will bring a little more joy into the life of any "Simpsons" fan.
— Olli Chanoff, barnesandnoble.com