BOOKNOTES by Brian Lamb


Writers and Their Stories from C-SPAN's Author Interviews
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 These excerpts from more than 150 of C-SPAN's weekly Booknotes interviews have all the conversational richness of the fabled Paris Review interviews. The informal pleasures of the spoken word distinguish this collection, in which Booknotes host and C-SPAN founder Lamb's questions are omitted, allowing interviewees' voices to take center stage. Unadorned, these authors reveal themselves with honesty and vigor; the interviews, divided into three sections, ``Storytellers,'' ``Reporters,'' and ``Leaders'' (this breakdown isn't as clean as it sounds; the reporters, of course, have plenty of stories to tell in their books, too). Among the best are biographers Stephen Ambrose and Robert D. Richardson Jr., and journalists Neil Sheehan and Stanley Crouch. The selections range from such well-known writers as David Halberstam and David McCullough to such lesser-known figures as Nicholas Basbanes, a chronicler of bibliomaniacs. For numerous reporters the civil rights struggle and the Vietnam war were defining experiences. Richard Nixon talks about the long view of history. Colin Powell describes signing 2,000 to 4,000 of his books at a sitting--one every 2.9 seconds. Doris Kearns Goodwin and John Keegan summarize their longhand writing methods, while Halberstam says using a word processor has probably doubled his productivity. Edmund Morris brazenly chides editors who ``love to obliterate,'' and Paul Kennedy celebrates the care given by his copy editor but laments that once his proofs have been read it's too late to change anything--``you're deep frozen in what you've said.'' Time and again these authors assert that writing is terribly hard work, and rarely fun; many just despise it; only a handful (George Will, famously) dare claim to love it. All would seem to agree with David Hackworth that ``writing a book takes a lot of your life.'' An often riveting insider's perspective on the writing life by some of our foremost authors. (16 pages photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-8129-2847-4
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1997


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