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the Complete Review
the complete review - interviews

Conversations with Stoppard

Tom Stoppard / Mel Gussow

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To purchase Conversations with Stoppard

Title: Conversations with Stoppard
Author: Tom Stoppard / Mel Gussow
Genre: Interviews
Written: (1972-95)
Length: 148 pages
Availability: Conversations with Stoppard - US
Conversations with Stoppard - UK
Conversations with Stoppard - Canada

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Our Assessment:

B- : not especially informative, overall quite disappointing

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The NY Times Book Rev. A 3/3/1996 Bevya Rosten
TLS C 29/9/1995 Jane Montgomery
World Lit. Today A Winter/1996 Susan Rusinko

  Review Consensus:

  No consensus, though some eem to enjoy the banter and found it informative.

  From the Reviews:
  • "Mr. Gussow offers a chance to engage with the witty and quirky mind of a unique artist." - Bevya Rosten, The New York Times Book Review

  • "Gussow's interviewing technique is frankly anodyne; soothing, unchallenging and ultimately soporific. (...) Gussow's interrogation is not probing, however, nor is his search for Stoppard's inner balance particularly cogent. (...) Without Gussow commenting on the tone, atmosphere or potential tensions of their meetings, these conversations are little more than pleasant chats about everything from quantum physics to travelling bookcases." - Jane Montgomery, Times Literary Supplement

  • "(O)ne need go no further than Gussow's conversations with the author to have a curiosity-satisfying peek into the thinking and the creative processes of one of England's two major dramatists of the second half of the twentieth century." - Susan Rusinko, World Literature Today

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       There are surprisingly few biographical books about the playwright Tom Stoppard and we hoped to get more of an insight into the man from his conversations with The New York Times drama critic Mel Gussow. Regrettably, this book fails in that regard. Consisting of a number of conversations between Gussow and Stoppard, covering the time from 1972 to 1995, they generally meander aimlessly about, seeming more like the background information a journalist might jot down for a profile of the person being interviewed. There are bits and pieces that are worthwhile, and some domestic and biographical detail emerges, but far too little (and far too haphazardly). Gussow also wishes to talk to his subject as an equal and so he tries to engage in some repartee (with mortifying results). He is not a stupid journalist (we like many of his articles), but he is an inadequate interviewer for the purposes set out here.

       In lieu of any other biographical book about Stoppard we hesitantly recommend this, warning you not to expect too much.

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Tom Stoppard: Other works by Tom Stoppard under review: Works about Tom Stoppard under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Drama under review

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About the Author:

       British dramatist Tom Stoppard, born 1937, is author of such notable plays as Arcadia and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

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