Don’t read this

21 September 2005 at 09:25 Leave a comment

Classic example of a terrible interview:

The Guardian
interviewing Gore Vidal.

One of those interviews that seems to be about the interviewer and not the interviewee.

“Vidal enters the drawing room stiff-backed and eyes fixed forward, leaning heavily on his assistant. I have read that the house was sold for £9.5m and ask him who bought it.

“That is just the press,” he growls, with such contempt that the photographer and I exchange looks; oh God.”

Let’s unpack this.

It’s not like he was picking on the press unfairly, the house hadn’t even sold yet.

And who cares what the interviewer was experiencing? Is this about Gore Vidal? Or the fact that the interviewer clearly doesn’t have any respect for him? Because a good interviewer should be able to interview anyone and get to the heart of the person, the heart of their work, etc. without the whole thing just being about their impressions/conceptions of the subject.

Oddly, several of the questions are couched so that you can’t tell they are questions, until Vidal answers them.

And if you weren’t convinced that Ms. Brockes was the actual subject of this interview:

The packing boxes give it such a melancholy air – “it doesn’t fill me with joy, either,” says Vidal – and feeling the hairs on the back of my neck rise, I look over my shoulder and catch the reflection of Vidal’s assistant, staring passively at me through a mirror from a side room. It feels like a scene from Death in Venice.

It reminds me of bad poetry: all autobiography and no ideas.

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Entry filed under: reading, writing.

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What I’ve been reading:

  • James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, L.L.D. (London, 14 King William Street, Strand: William P. Nimmo, 1876). 4 years ago
  • Marsilio Ficino, Letters of Marsilio Ficino, v. 3, trans. Language Dept. School of Economic Science, London (New York: Gingko Press, 1985). 4 years ago
  • Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988). 4 years ago
  • Stephanie Kallos, Broken for You (New York: Grove Press, 2004). 5 years ago
  • Marsilio Ficino, Letters of Marsilio Ficino, v. 2, trans. Language Dept. School of Economic Science, London (New York: Gingko Press, 1985) 5 years ago

T. Anderson Painter

I am a misanthrope. No one ever believes me, but this seems to prove my point.

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