A series of short, sometimes revealing celebrity interviews that try to probe beyond the usual "How does it feel to be a star?" material. These 50 interviews are collected from a newspaper column (also called "Conversations") written for the Boston Globe. The author (Invasions of Privacy: Notes from a Celebrity Journalist, 1984) was a fashion reporter and editor for the Globe when she proposed an interview format that would be "akin to what goes on in a session with a trusted psychiatrist." She saw it as a form of oral history that would both reveal psychic battles and lend weight to what is ordinarily celebrity ephemera. Her subjects, some no longer so celebrated, range curiously from steamy novelist Jackie Collins to poet Maya Angelou, Coretta Scott King, Jihan Sadat, and Suzanne Somers. The author's experiences with a demeaning and chauvinistic father, described in a prologue and epilogue, are used intentionally to make a quick, but powerful connection with women who then reveal aspects of their interior lives, such as pride (Ginger Rogers), "prevailing" (Rosalynn Carter), attitude (Chita Rivera), and being battered (Jake LaMotta's wife, Vikki). When the author interviewed Nien Cheng, imprisoned and tortured for six and a half years during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Cheng challenged her: "What do you know of prisons?" Christy described her own history of "emotional abuse" and her efforts to break out of an "invisible jail of ignorance." Cheng bought that (perhaps you had to be there) and, in turn, spoke searingly of physical and mental abuse, isolation, and the qualities that helped her to survive. Each segment is short, introduced with a brief summary of the gist of the conversation and a description of the subject, followed by excerpts from what were clearly much longer tapes. Recycled but occasionally tantalizing sound bites from an eclectic group of accomplished women.
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