All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians, and Artists [NOOK Book]


"I'm Terry Gross and this is Fresh Air . . ."

Now available in paperback--a selection of revealing interviews from the award-winning National Public Radio show

Originating from WHYY-FM in Philadelphia and heard on more than 450 NPR stations, Fresh Air with Terry Gross has become a daily habit with ...
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All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians, and Artists

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"I'm Terry Gross and this is Fresh Air . . ."

Now available in paperback--a selection of revealing interviews from the award-winning National Public Radio show

Originating from WHYY-FM in Philadelphia and heard on more than 450 NPR stations, Fresh Air with Terry Gross has become a daily habit with millions of listeners nationwide--a must for anyone hoping to keep up with what's happening in the arts. Over the last twenty years, Terry's guests have included our most significant writers, actors, musicians, comics, and visual artists.

For her first collection, Terry has chosen more than three dozen timeless interviews that prove to be as lively on the page as they were on the radio. Her questions--probing yet sensitive--encourage revelations from figures as diverse as John Updike, Isabella Rossellini, Conan OBrien, Samuel L. Jackson, Johnny Cash, and Nicolas Cage. And in her introduction, the generally self-effacing host of Fresh Air does something she wouldnt dream of doing on the air--she reveals a thing or two about herself.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Twenty years of interviewing experience have taught NPR veteran Terry Gross how to draw out even the most skeptical or shy guests. Ever curious and seldom confrontational, the host of Fresh Air inspires reciprocity. These conversations with creative people display a smooth blend of banter and surprising insights. The subjects include Dennis Hopper, Michael Caine, Isabella Rossellini, Uta Hagen, Eric Clapton, Sonny Rollins, Conan O'Brien, Chris Rock, Jodie Foster, John Updike, Mary Karr, Nick Hornby, Mario Puzo, Chuck Close, Samuel L. Jackson, Divine, Carol Shields, and Johnny Cash.
Publishers Weekly
Conducting a good interview requires exhaustive research, good timing, the ability to steer the interview back on course when it meanders, a knack for close listening and thinking about the next question, flexibility and editing skills. Gross, the polite and generous host of NPR's Fresh Air, is a pro, and here she collects some of her favorite interviews with people in the arts. The result is a wide-ranging and entertaining look into the creative process. With a few exceptions, the interviews are from the show's national broadcast debut year in 1987, but they never seem dated, as many of the guests are still active or well known, and the topics are timeless. Whether she's asking Johnny Cash about the difference between a singer and a song stylist, discussing the role of class in British actor Michael Caine's life or examining the eternal intricacies of the human face with Chuck Close, Gross remains sensitive, engaged and informed. The two notable exceptions are her interviews with cable opinion-slinger Bill O'Reilly and Kiss front man Gene Simmons, whose pugnacity and sexism, respectively, unseat the usually collected host and challenge her to summon interview skills she rarely exercises. Overall, however, this is an often funny and completely fascinating anthology. Agent, Jonathan Lazear. (Sept. 8) Forecast: Magazine features and cross-promotions with NPR should give Gross's book a boost. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Fans of National Public Radio's Fresh Air with Terry Gross are in for a treat. For the first time, listeners can read transcripts from the popular talk show, chosen by the Peabody Award-winning host herself. The compilation begins with an informative introduction from Gross, who provides a behind-the-scenes look into the production of the program. She also reveals insights into her interviewing process and her continuing interest in the arts throughout her 25-year career with Fresh Air. The eclectic and sometimes confrontational interviews are edited for readability and are prefaced with background information about the guests, who range from John Updike to Johnny Cash to Jodie Foster. A fun read; for large public libraries and academic libraries with communications collections. Donna Marie Smith, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., FL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401381660
  • Publisher: Hachette Books
  • Publication date: 9/1/2004
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 338,525
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Terry Gross started out in public radio in 1973 at WBFO, the NPR affiliate on the campus of her alma mater, the State University of New York at Buffalo. She became producer and host of Fresh Air in 1975, when it was still a local program. Fresh Air won a Peabody Award in 1994 for its "probing questions, revelatory interviews, and unusual insights." In 2003, Terry herself received public radio's highest honor, the Edward R. Murrow Award. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, the writer Francis Davis.
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Read an Excerpt

"You may be wondering what the point is of reading interviews that were meant to be listened to. I've asked myself that. But in going through transcripts in preparation for this book, I was pleasantly surprised that so many of the interviews I remembered as having been good radio also made for enjoyable reading. In reading the ones gathered here — I probably shouldn't admit this—I've learned things from them that went right by me in the studio." —from the Introduction
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Table of Contents

Introduction ix
Don't Do It 1
Like a Skinny Boxer 13
Being Square 19
A Man's Voice 29
Lift Everything Up 37
Erotic Cheese and Crackers 45
A New Gift 53
The Craft Itself 63
Use the Disadvantage 69
Right in the Gut 81
You Will Not Find the Word "Lesbian" 87
We All Die 95
A Family Courtesy 103
Make Sense of It Later 111
Bootzilla Twenty-seven Hours a Day 119
Dissonance 127
In the Junkyards 137
Alive in a Coffin 143
A Difficult Place to Grow Up 157
I Never Told Jokes 167
Beauty Gone Berserk 177
Kissing and Licking Boots 185
To Iron a Shirt 193
So What? 205
Not to Think 213
Send the Salami 221
Like Raw Meat 227
A Little out of Whack 237
The Way People Look 247
It Gets Harder 255
Mom, Dad, I Want to Be a Tap Dancer 263
Nothing Else Would Matter 277
A Large Feminine Side 287
Too Much for You to Take 293
Dramatic Beats 305
Stop Acting 319
In That Hurricane 327
A Place of Protection 331
A Fraudulent Angel 339
Acknowledgments 347
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2005

    A wonderful read!

    I'm a long-time fan of Terry Gross and Fresh Air, and also am an avid reader. Had the pleasure of seeing Terry in person when she performed at the Kravis Center in WPB, Florida, a year or two ago. I had heard many of the interviews appearing in the book, but for me it was a must-have for my library (bought extras for Christmas gifts too). Terry has a wonderful gift for asking just the right questions and letting the interviewee express him/herself. Highly recommended!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2004

    Looking at a piece of an incredible body of work.

    There isn't a way to access all the interviews in the 'Fresh Air' archives. What a treasure trove of culture that would be. Out of the thousands of interviews, Terry Gross has picked through and chosen these standouts. It would have been so diffcult to cull into this book everything, I am sure, she would have wanted to highlight. The parts where she explains the process and leaves us with her own observations are enlightening. Knowing a little of what went on in her head (especially about the Gene Simmons interview) gives me a different view of the interview I remember hearing. It takes what I thought was a planned and prepped interview going down the tubes into a 'radio by the seat of your pants' experience. This book kinda does for Terry, what her interviews do for the interview subjects we are so interested in.

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    Posted September 14, 2010

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    Posted January 22, 2012

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    Posted October 29, 2011

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