cover image Listening: Interviews, 1970-1989

Listening: Interviews, 1970-1989

Jonathan Cott. . Univ. of Minnesota, $29.95 (360p) ISBN 978-1-5179-0901-7

Rolling Stone contributing editor Cott (There’s a Mystery There) offers fascinating insights into the minds and work of renowned creative figures in this collection of 22 interviews he’s done over the course of his career. Cott speaks to Bob Dylan in 1977 shortly after the release of the second movie directed by the singer, Renaldo and Clara, drawing connections between the film’s symbolism and Dylan’s lyrics. Chinua Achebe discusses the importance of storytelling and of “preserving and refurbishing the landscape of the imagination,” while Elizabeth Taylor, interviewed in 1987, recalls her early stardom unsentimentally, describing golden-age Hollywood as less an “extended family,” as described by one of her peers, than as a “big extended factory.” John Lennon, just three days before his murder, tells Cott about the pitfalls of fame and myriad failings of music critics. Cott sets the scene for his 1973 interview with Henry Miller by describing the author’s hilarious bathroom, featuring statues of Buddha, a portrait of Hermann Hesse, and pornography. Cott’s interviews are notable for their famous subjects, but also for his remarkable skill and ingenuity; he’s clearly researched each interviewee exhaustively and knows just what to ask. The author’s rare conversational gift elevates this collection to must-read status for fans of any of Cott’s subjects. Agent: Michael Mungiello, InkWell Management (May)