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The Art of the Interview: Lessons from a Master of the Craft

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  167 ratings  ·  22 reviews

“I had a fantasy the other night that this interview is so great that they no longer want me to act—just do interviews. I thought of us going all over the world doing interviews—we’ve signed for three interviews a day for six weeks.”
—Al Pacino, in an interview with Lawrence Grobel

Highly respected in journalist circ
Paperback, 459 pages
Published August 31st 2004 by Three Rivers Press
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Apr 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this to try and learn from those in the business of interviewing others how to become successful at interviewing others. I would like to help book bloggers learn how to make their author interviews more interesting.

Larry Grobel interviews the super stars, and isn't afraid to tell you about it. Over. And over. And over. Name dropping and reminding you about it is his forte. But after excusing his braggadoccio you will find some legitimately valuable tips for newbies. They are basically:

David Wolinsky
Jun 03, 2012 rated it did not like it
Whoo boy.

I read this book based on a recommendation from a colleague. We're both professional writers. I interview people for a living, he doesn't. I thought I would scoop up a tip or two at the very least, but as it turns out, I didn't learn anything other than the fact that the author is in love with himself and thinks making the same point for nearly 500 pages is the same as being incisive.

You want to interview people? Here's what Larry recommends: Prepare.

Really. That's it.

Other than that
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Since my major is Journalism I saw this book at the library and thought maybe it would help me out a little bit for when I am writing a story for class. It helped a little bit but not that much.
As a reporter, getting an interview right is paramount to a good story. While I found a number of tid bits in Grobel's "Art of the Interview," it predominantly talked about dealing with celebrities and their agents, which doesn't help as much when reporting on cops and government.
The later half of the book is a series of Q & As with editors and others who have conducted interviews with celebrities. Tried to getting through it but lost interest, especially with a staunch lack of interest in deal
Beth Jusino
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
A book that did not age well. 100,000 words of the author's self-aggrandizing stories and transcripts of interviews with now-dated celebrities facing now-forgotten scandals, and maybe 5,000 words of advice on how to interview.
Mar 04, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people who like "insider" anecdotes about famous people
Interviewing has been part of my professional life for nearly 20 years, so I was looking forward to reading a book by someone who's been doing it twice as long, and with far more famous interview subjects than I tend to work with.

But it wasn't too far into the book before I realized the same points were being made over and over and over, using scenarios with different famous people as examples. The book seems to be part memoir, part how-to, and doesn't really satisfy as either one. It's too repe
Dec 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
This book specializes in techniques the author developed to interview celebrities for profiles and, more lately, Q&As in glossy magazines. He teaches an interview seminar at UCLA for students who aspire to a variety of careers where they believe his skills would be useful: medicine, social work, business. Some of my favorite passages are his anecdotes about interviewing Brando and Pacino; excerpts from his interviews with Jesse Ventura and an LA prosecutor who believes a man should be the boss i ...more
Alex Jeffries
Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
From time to time I get obsessed with taking on a new career path. One of the most recent iterations of that was the idea of interviewing people full-time, all the time. It was helped a long when a friend gave me Stud Terkel's Working, which lead me to The Art of the Interview. Grobel doesn't shy away from the amount of work and preparation and research goes into the best interviews you read, and the book is all the stronger for it. For me, who is often responsible for guest interviews on talk s ...more
Mar 10, 2013 added it
Shelves: read2013
Sprawling compendium of advice and stories about doing celebrity interviews, which sound mostly horrific. For every piece of advice given, there's a contradiction elsewhere in the book, so you're left with: do whatever works to get the story. Excellent trivia: for example, I did not know that Alex Haley introduced the interview to Playboy, years before he wrote Roots. The crowdsourced advice from reporters was quite useful, the advice from editors less so. The back quarter of the book is a trans ...more
Dawid Zaraziński
Książka typowo poradnikowa, której treść skondensować można w dwóch zdaniach: zawsze się przygotowuj oraz mimo najszczerszych chęci wywiady nie zawsze się udają. Na plus zaliczyć można: wiele przykładów z przeprowadzonych przez autora wywiadów, rozdziały prezentujące opinie innych dziennikarzy na temat wywiadów, sporo anegdotek dotyczących gwiazd. Minusów jest jednak więcej: ego autora, nierozwinięte wątki chociażby i najgorszy – fatalna redakcja książki (osiem brakujących stron!, błędy merytory ...more
Ryan Meitzler
May 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Lots of great insight into how to conduct and plan for interviews for print, TV, etc. As I wanted to learn better interview techniques, Art of the Interview is a great starting point with lots of examples, but also marred by a bit of overindulgence. At many points it feels like Grobel is rambling, and when the book is spinning its wheels or repeating itself, I just felt the book could have been more succinct and not lose much because of it. But, AoTI is still enjoyable, especially for Grobel's t ...more
May 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
God I love this. As someone who enjoys speaking to people and hearing their stories, and does it for a living too, I equally enjoyed reading about my craft. I went through this so fast, too fast, because I couldn't get enough. Grobel writes with so much clarity, intention and eloquence, it's easy to see why he would be the immediate choice of author to pen this topic. I've always wondered that if my house were to ever burn down and I could only take one book with me, which it would be. I think I ...more
Susan Cronk
Mar 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When you're conducting research for a nonfiction book, it stands to reason that interviews will be a part of that research. Grobel's book is a great help in learning how to interview others well, to make the best use of your time, and how to prepare beforehand. I'm glad I have this as part of my library so I can refer back to it.
Andrew Kahn
Jun 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
Some good tips, but could have been half the length. Most important thing when it comes to interviewing: preparation. The more you learn about your subject in advance (research, including reading prior interviews) the better your questions will be and more likely the subject will be to open up to you.
Kelly Lynn Thomas
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, writing
I really don't give a crap about the celebrities he talks about interviewing, but the way he takes you behind the interviewing process definitely helped me improve my own interviewing skills as a journalist. If you are a journalist or even if you talk to people a lot as part of your job, this is a good book to pick up.
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
I had to read this book for my journalism class. It was so incredibly dull I had to force myself to keep reading and turning the page. Aside from being boring nothing in the book was memorable less than a week after I had read the book I could not remember a single word of advice from it.
Jul 14, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, writing
This book is in a sense a huge pep talk, so it's good for people starting out in journalism. It's very entertaining (you learn crazy stuff about celebrities, and in that sense it's also distracting).
Jun 30, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
If you can sift through the incessant name dropping and dirt dishing, maybe you can find some pointers on how to conduct a good interview. I personally wasn't able to, but knock yourself out.
Mar 27, 2012 added it
Shelves: favorites
This is an important read for aspiring interviewers. Grobel has great tips on how to get the good stuff and how to write profiles even when you don't.
Mur Lafferty
Jun 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fic, 2010-books
Yeah, there was name dropping but it didn't bug me. The examples were useful and I learned a lot.
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