'Breaking Bad,' 'True Blood' inspire essay collections

Actor Bryan Cranston stars in "Breaking Bad." Actor Bryan Cranston stars in "Breaking Bad." Photo Credit: AP

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"Breaking Bad and Philosophy: Badder Living Through Chemistry" Nineteen essays on Bryan Cranston's chemistry teacher turned meth kingpin Walter White assess his arc from "geek hero to Greek tragedy." Editors David R. Koepsell and Robert Arp collect musings on the AMC antihero's body count, "cost-benefit analysis," existentialism, "will to power" and black porkpie hat. He's also compared to fellow AMC lead Don Draper ("Mad Men"). Other essays ponder Giancarlo Esposito's Gus Fring and viewers' own interpretation of moral principles. "Breaking Bad" begins its final AMC season Aug. 11. ($20, Open Court)

"True Blood: Investigating Vampires and Southern Gothic" Eleven essays eye the eerie potboiler in the context of fairy tale folklore, "traditional television aesthetics," the paranormal, "divine absence" and HBO's marketing of the show. Editor Brigid Cherry also includes a look at fan fiction and a season guide/recap. HBO's season 6 starts June 16. ($18, I.B. Tauris)

"My Life Is a Situation Comedy" -- No essays here, just chatty anecdotes from sitcom writer Bill Persky ("The Dick Van Dyke Show," "That Girl," "Kate & Allie"). His memories unfurl stream-of-consciousness through a parade of famed names -- Peter Sellers, Farrah Fawcett, Mary Tyler Moore, Orson Welles, Gene Kelly -- plus his own search for love and the forgotten password. ($15, Mandevilla Press)

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