- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Three Rivers Press; 1 edition (August 31, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1400050715
- ISBN-13: 978-1400050710
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 19 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #423,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Art of the Interview: Lessons from a Master of the Craft Paperback – August 31, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
To conduct a good interview, you must "converse like a talk show host, think like a writer, understand subtext like a psychiatrist, have an ear like a musician, be able to select the best parts like a book editor and know how to piece it together dramatically like a playwright." This is the sound advice of famed Playboy interviewer Grobel, the man who scored the only in-depth interview with Patty Hearst and who got the elusive Marlon Brando to agree to a week-long interview in Tahiti. Grobel, who has also written a biography of the Hustons and contributed to numerous other publications, gives readers the equivalent of a master class in this thoroughly entertaining treatise on one of the toughest tasks in journalism. He is generous with information and journalistic tips, explaining, among other things, how to prepare for the meeting and how to get the subject to open up. An invaluable resource for aspiring journalists, the book also satisfies the voyeuristic desires of a celebrity obsessed culture by raising the curtain on the idiosyncratic demands of stars and by putting the reader in the interviewers chair. Grobel does this throughout the book by deconstructing some of his more famous dialogues, including those of former Indiana Hoosiers coach Bobby Knight, Drew Barrymore and Barbra Streisand, who presented him with a contract drawn up by her attorneys when he arrived at her home for the interview. The book is an overstuffed treat, full of anecdotes, advice from other top writers and the kind of commiserating stories about difficult editors, hellish assignments and prickly stars that will seize the attention of both professional interviewers and their audiences.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Not only are interviews the staple of television and radio talk shows and news, they are also the wellspring of myriad articles and most nonfiction books. Interviews vary from tightwire acts to prolonged, in-depth conversations, and at their liveliest and most revealing, they are true collaborations between interviewer and interviewee. Grobel, the author of eight previous books, is a respected veteran of the form--the first celebrity he spoke with was Mae West--and his work has appeared in such venues as Playboy, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times. He now energetically and entertainingly covers every aspect of the arduous task of interviewing, from research and prep work to handling reluctant interviewees to coaxing out revelations (Mel Gibson thinks the theory of evolution is bunk; Joyce Carol Oates explains her obsession with molestation and rape) to editing raw transcripts. He provides running commentary on a conversation with Drew Barrymore, includes observations by editors and other journalists, and shamelessly name-drops. Rich in irresistible celebrity anecdotes and genuinely useful information, this is an unusually sharp and vibrant how-to. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
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I like the conversational style of the book. It feels like you're sitting in a quiet room with the author while all the information just pours out of him. While nonfiction books can seem a bit dry, this one is anything but that. The examples are entertaining and engaging. Pay attention though, or you'll be so busy listening you'll find you're not taking notes.
On the issue of notetaking, I found that having this in Kindle form is very helpful. I have recently transitioned my entire reference library over to my Kindle, which allows me to take my little library and my notes from the books along with me. I can refer back to them and add to them the things I learn with each new interview.
I searched a long time to find good references on interview techniques. I definitely will keep this one on the electronic bookshelf.
This book was really invaluable. I do agree with the reviewers that Grobel spends a fair amount of time name-dropping and telling celebrity stories, but they are all in service of points he is making about interviewing.
The book is well-organized and I was able to skim or skip over whole sections that didn't apply to what I was doing. And the rest of the time I was gaining real insight and taking lots of notes. I couldn't recommend it more!
Where it misses is in trying to instruct. The midsection of the book covers several different types of interviews (for print, online, TV, etc.) but completely neglects covering what I consider to be some very important ground. Most celebrity interviewers, like myself, are not at the highest echelon - most of us will not get exclusive sit-down TV interviews for the Playboy Channel; will never spend weeks with Marlon Brando on his private island; or get five or six sessions with Barbra Striesand for a big magazine cover story. Grobel's been there, done that. (But it's nice to know that even Grobel has the same experience with brick-wall publicists; he doesn't necessarily have Oscar winners banging his door down all the time.)
I have interviewed quite a few of the same big stars Grobel has - Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, Meryl Streep - but my experience is quite different. I usually get about five minutes at a red carpet premiere, four minutes at a TV junket, or 20 minutes at an on-the-set press conference in which I must compete with other reporters for answers. It's rather appalling that Grobel does not even mention press junkets, red carpet premieres, or set visits in his book - let alone e-mail interviews which are becoming more and more commonplace as the world goes online.
Grobel has the time to make an "art" of the interview - given the limitations of the situations, what the vast majority of reporters do is a quick caricature or a sketch. Still, there is a certain excitement and spontaneity to the randomness of a red carpet premiere, or having a chat at a press junket with young up and comers who aren't so guarded around the press. As long as the interviewee can express themselves well in writing, even e-mail interviews can be cool. It's too bad that Grobel doesn't mention any of this.
Had I been looking for tips to break into the business of interviewing celebrities, I would have been pretty disappointed in The Art of the Interview. However, if you are looking for more of a memoir and are interested in the process of what an interviewer actually does, then The Art of the Interview is highly recommended. Grobel is an excellent writer, and he does a good job of seamlessly going from point A to point B.