• print • Feb/Mar 2007

    Interviewing the Interviewers

    TERRY GROSS

    BOOKFORUM: How do you prepare for your interviews with writers?

    TERRY GROSS: I completely mark up the books I read. I circle everything I think is important or intriguing. I earmark just about every other page. My notes become a memory bank. I return to them to reflect on the book, and hopefully a picture emerges, like developing film, to guide me in the interview.

    BF: What do you focus on when you speak with fiction writers? How do you avoid emphasizing the plot and giving too much away?

    TG: I try not to get too involved in the intricacies of a novel because it’s a world the

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    World Without End

    As the millennium drew to its dismal close, George Steiner was asked to choose the best book of the past thousand years. He named the Commedia, saying: “Dante’s totality of poetic form and philosophic thought, of ‘local universality’ and language, remains unrivaled. At a time when the notion of culture and of European culture, in particular, is in doubt, Dante is the sovereign underwriter.”

    Steiner is perhaps the last of them: the grand masters of erudition who brought illumination to, and brought to the service of illumination, the histories of words, languages, and literatures, the confluences

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