Performing the Literary Interview: How Writers Craft Their Public Selves

Overview


When authors are interviewed about their books or themselves, much more is going on than a simple conversation. The interview becomes a performance space for authorial orchestration and self-promotion, and interviewers in turn respond to such self-display and theatrics.
 
Featuring absorbing conversations with nine well-known authors, including poets Richard Howard and Gerald Stern, novelist Isabel Allende, and scholar-intellectual ...
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Overview


When authors are interviewed about their books or themselves, much more is going on than a simple conversation. The interview becomes a performance space for authorial orchestration and self-promotion, and interviewers in turn respond to such self-display and theatrics.
 
Featuring absorbing conversations with nine well-known authors, including poets Richard Howard and Gerald Stern, novelist Isabel Allende, and scholar-intellectual Camille Paglia, Performing the Literary Interview is the first in-depth look at this type of performance art. Interviews with poets, fiction writers, and intellectuals enable John Rodden to identify a range of rhetorical strategies and their effects and to formulate a typology for appreciating the various roles that interviewers and interviewees assume. Traditionalists foreground their work rather than themselves, raconteurs are storytellers who skillfully spin anecdotes and creatively showcase their personalities, and advertisers more explicitly use the literary interview to promote and sell themselves. This pioneering, persuasive study stakes a claim to a new area of scholarly inquiry in the humanities. The literary interview can no longer be considered only as a voyeuristic window on an author, or a celebrity vehicle, or even an entertaining diversion, but should also be approached as a serious genre meriting scholarly attention and analysis.
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Editorial Reviews

James Arnt Aune

"John Rodden takes the art of the literary interview to a new level of achievement in this book."—James Arnt Aune, The Pennsylvania State University
Michael Levenson

"Here is a strong and timely book, rich in implication for all who study the complex culture we inhabit. Anyone interested in our current intellectual trajectory should quickly open these covers."—Michael Levenson, University of Virginia
James van Oosting

"Performing the Literary Interview makes a major contribution to understanding an increasingly popular genre of public discourse. This book deserves a wide readership."—James van Oosting, Seton Hall University
Library Journal
Rodden (Lionel Trilling and the Critics: Opposing Selves) carefully examines the genre of the literary interview, dividing authors into three basic types according to their interview personae. There are the traditionalists, who emphasize their works; the raconteurs, who focus on the anecdote; and the advertisers, who promote themselves and their work. Rodden includes nine interviews with authors in various literary genres, including Rick Bass, Marge Piercy, Gerald Stern, Camille Paglia, and Isabel Allende. Each interview begins with an introduction about the author and the process of the interview, followed by the question-and-answer dialog. The interviews are well orchestrated, revealing the literary personalities of each of the authors and how their lives relate to their craft and "to their self and public images." Rodden thus makes a claim for the author interview as a literary genre of its own. This successful study provides well-crafted models in support of its thesis. Recommended for academic and large public libraries. Sue Samson, Univ. of Montana, Missoula Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803222366
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2007
  • Pages: 276
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author


John Rodden is the author of six books, including Lionel Trilling and the Critics: Opposing Selves (Nebraska 1999).
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Note to Readers
Introduction: The Literary Interview as Public Performance 1
Pt. I The Traditionalists
1 Wild Man: Rick Bass 25
2 The Thinking Poet: W. S. Di Piero 38
3 The Masters' Apprentice: Frank Conroy 58
4 "Bitter" Poet-Prophet: Marge Piercy 67
Pt. 2 The Raconteurs
5 Splendor in the Weeds: Gerald Stern 97
6 The Masked Man of Letters: Richard Howard 122
7 The Translator as Team Player: John Nathan 141
Pt. 3 The Advertisers
8 The Performing Artist-Intellectual: Camille Paglia 165
9 The Chilean Scheherazade: Isabel Allende 203
Notes 227
Selected Bibliography 257
Source Acknowledgments 261
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