Poet at the Piano

Michiko Katutani, Author, Michiko Kakutani, Author Crown Publishers $18.95 (247p) ISBN 978-0-8129-1277-7
New York Times book critic Kakutani here gathers 35 interviews, mostly published between 1979 and 1987, of people whose work has become part of the cultural vernacular. Included are David Byrne, Laurence Olivier, Joan Didion, Stephen Sondheim, John Updike and Mary McCarthy. Some of the ``portraits'' have the fleeting, ephemeral quality of old snapshotsvaluable as a record of an event, but now dated and fuzzy: Milan Kundera, for example, had just published The Book of Laughter and Forgetting and gives no hint that The Unbearable Lightness of Being is in the works; Steven Spielberg discusses his ``breakthrough'' film, E.T. Other intervieweesnotably Saul Bellow and Jorge Luis Borgessurvive the topical constraints of news reporting and speak of their craft in ways that cannot be ascribed to a specific time and place. For such moments, in which Kakutani offers the artists an opportunity to discuss elements of their creativity, even these hurried glimpses are worth a closer look. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1988
Release date: 06/01/1988
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