Dick Cavett's new collection of essays, drawn from his recent weekly column in The New York Times, does exactly what you expect, exactly as well as you expect it to. After 50 years in the talk show business, he has many great stories to tell and a sizable but casual wit with which to tell them. As a selection of his columns, this book collects not only the many historic moments in television that Cavett had a hand in, but also an array of amusing anecdotes from his childhood, and also his general opinions on contemporary politics and pop culture.
The essays are not arranged chronologically, and the ever nimble Cavett jumps from scene to scene with the ease of both the person who has been there, and the person who is accustomed to discussing it. Cavett reveals hilarious bits of his childhood, from an obsession with illegal firecrackers to the military precision with which he studied to become a magician. He weighs in on recent news headlines as a staunch liberal, including his thoughts about Sarah Palin, among other political figures. Of course, his behind-the-scenes look at writing material for Groucho Marx and Johnny Carson is fascinating, and his tales of celebrity horror are hilariously personal without getting too gossipy.
To have Cavett himself narrating the book is immediately and unmistakably a real treat. This experience feels like having Sunday dinner with your grandfather, except your grandfather is a deeply literate and highly animated character with a vast stockpile of friends in high places. Of particular delight are his terrifyingly good impersonations of Katharine Hepburn and John Wayne. Cavett tells of listening to Nixon strategize about how best to ruin him, the time a fitness expert died on stage in the middle of a taping, and his effort to contain an extended feud between Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer that famously boiled over during a live show. Spanning five decades and essentially covering highlights of the entire history of commercial television programming, there isn't a tedious moment in the whole book and you'll definitely want to pass these stories along. Megan Volpert
For years, Dick Cavett played host to the nation’s most famous personalities on his late-night talk show. In this humorous and evocative book, we get to hear Cavett's best tales, as he recounts great moments with the legendary entertainers who crossed his path and offers his own trenchant commentary on contemporary American culture and politics.
Pull up a chair and listen to Cavett's stories about one-upping Bette Davis, testifying on behalf of John Lennon, confronting Richard Nixon, scheming with John Updike, befriending William F. Buckley, and palling around with Groucho Marx. Sprinkled in are tales of his childhood in Nebraska in the 1940s and 1950s, where he honed his sense of comic timing and his love of magic.
Cavett is also a wry cultural observer, looking at America today and pointing out the foibles that we so often fail to notice about ourselves. And don't even get him started on politicians.
A generation of Americans ended their evenings in Dick Cavett's company. Talk Show is a way to welcome him back.
©2010 Richard A. Cavett (P)2010 Macmillan Audio
I've always wanted to spend time with Dick Cavett and now, with this book, I feel I have. Intimate, funny and immensely entertaining. You won't be able to put it down (figuratively, of course).
Say something about yourself!
I already have recommended it to several friends. It is so refreshing to know that there are still intellectuals among us and Dick Cavett is certainly one of them. It was a joy to listen to Mr. Cavett read his essays on a wide array of subjects ranging from the quirky show business folks he has met and interviewed to recent political events. I particularly liked his essays on the decline of the English language.
If you are interested in stories about famous and infamous people of years gone by, then this book tells a few tails by a person who was there. Dick Cavett and his newspaper column gives interesting reading. Dick narrates this audiobook which I feel gives his written words the feeling he wants to portray.
He has an interesting career which allowed him to interview interesting people. Back in the 70's and later, he had the opportunity to meet people who are legends of music and movies, stars who now have passed on. He share some of there stories amongst other interesting observations. It keeps you wanting more.
Dick Cavett performance is what you would expect from Dick Cavett. He was not disappointing. You even get some English lessons.
Name dropping and bragging rights.
I rarely watched Cavett's show (he always seemed TOO full of himself), and yet I've seen brief clips of many of the shows I missed and have thoroughly enjoyed them. Maybe that's the answer...Cavett in small doses is manageable. At least I found MOST of these columns to be either interesting, humorous (the ones about Richard Nixon, George Bush) or downright poignant (the one about Paul Newman brought tears). I DID NOT enjoy learning he was not only friends with - but GOOD FRIENDS with - the irksome William F. Buckley. And Cavett seems to get far too much enjoyment remembering tales of his childhood/teen vandalism, minor though it may have been.
His writing skills are exceptional, and he's a pleasant narrator
If there ever was a book that needed to be HEARD, rather than read, this is it! When you listen, you’d swear that Cavett does not have a printed page in front of him. Having only heard the audio – via the Audible version – and not seen the book, I can’t tell if he is adding some asides or not. Hey, I don’t care. This is “user friendly” Dick, who is among one of the top people I’d love to have a long conversation with. He is witty and funny and SMART! I was a big fan of all his TV shows and loved his first book, Cavett, which he wrote 30 years ago.That said, in all honesty, I have a problem giving the book 5 stars and I’ll explain why in a minute. As you may – or may not – know, this is a collection of essays that Cavett wrote for the New York Times in 2008 and 2009. They are read in chronological order. Cavett covers a large variety of subjects (just like his TV talk show; hence the book’s title) from celebrities he’s known (especially Groucho Marx) to the misuse of the English language. He tells about his high school reunion and going to magic conventions. These are all great! But then he discusses politics. I’m very much on Cavett’s side of issues and, if they were current, this would be great to read (and hear). But most of the columns were originally written during 2008 before the Presidential election and so Cavett spends a lot of time talking about John McCain, George W. Bush and Sarah Palin, among others. Barack Obama is hardly mentioned until after the election and, even then, he was newly in office. The Iraq War is covered but in a “time capsule” of what was happening then.
Even though this is only 2 ½ years after the columns were printed, the political columns are stale. The book was published in late 2010 and, in my opinion, should have been edited to reduce the number of “dated” columns. Not every column need to be included. even though I listened to the whole book all the way through, I feel I need to deduct one star because of the old material.
I found Dick to be flaccid and angry. He dislikes fat people, conservatives and Republicans but mostly the Dick dislikes Americans. He seems upset that we aren’t French, or, at the least, European.
I have an idear…yeah, that’s right idear and I’m proud it. I know who I am. My idear is for the Dick to move to Europe and when we Americans finally snap out of it and become the effete whine lovers he wants us to be, we’ll call him and he move back and disapprove of us from another angle. But don’t come prematurely, Dick. We’ll call you when it’s safe.
The good news is Dick writes for a newspaper so his babbling will go unnoticed. Now if we could just get him to stop writing books. Well I’m being generous. This isn’t actually a book its mean spirited hissing of an old guy stuck in 1970 something. I’m an old guy too. I was there in the 1970 somethings. The entire decade dreadful. Move along. Get new stories. But he doesn’t and with the Dick’s second cheap shot at Richard Nixon within a few pages of the first one, you think “Oh come on Dick, straighten up. Dick Nixon was a dick we all know that. Get over it, or on it, or whatever you’re pleasure is with that sort of thing, but again, move along.”
He does move into more recent times by going on about the word “nuclear” and George Bush. What about Jimmy Carter’s repeated malicious attacks on the word. Remember that? “Nu-ca-Lar”. It took the world an entire year before we figured out he wasn’t talking about a newly discovered planet. But Carter and his God awful diction doesn’t get rammed by the dick. That would be politically incorrect.
Isn’t that so very sad? Dick Cavett has joined the ranks of scared, thin lipped set. In his prime Dick Cavetti was a cool breeze. He defined politically incorrect AND he was likable and independent we rooted for him because he seemed to be amused by it all. What happened to that guy and who the hell replaced him with this mean spirited little twerp? For those of you don’t know…and you won’t learn this from any of his recent writing…Dick Cavett was a very funny guy. Very funny. And a rapid fire witty as well. Where did that go? It’s not in this compilation…that’s me being polite and calling this a compilation but not discribing what it is a compilation of…..that would be mean spirtied. That doesn’t mean that everything the guy writes has to be funny and so on, but it doesn’t have to be this tripe either.
Anyway, back to dick pile, he might have fired more shots across poor Nixon’s coffin, I don’t know. I stopped reading after the second groin punch at a guy who isn’t here to defend himself. Besides, life is too short for this short of limp wristed snippiness of a pompous angry little man. On the up side, Cavett does go on to tell us about his battle with depression which he apparently won, but I don’t see how that give him the right to dishearten the rest of us with this ingratiating writing.
Here is the problem with the dick. He’s a very smart, funny, observant self-made man of incredible accomplishments and he can do better than go on with these smarmy swipes at the human race.
Have I called this work childish and tiresome? Let me check….no…so it’s childish and tiresome too but only because it comes from such an exceptional, urbane wit who really better than this.
If it were truly about his talk show. It is a cheaply produced book because all the material in it had already appeared in Cavett's newspaper column. If he had started fresh, the book would not have been so stale.
Perhaps, but only if he wrote it with greater care and avoided repeating the same story several times.
I had forgotten how arrogant Cavett can be. He comes across as the undisputed defender of the English, French, German and Latin languages. A little petty criticism goes a long way. Cavett forgets that English a living language. Regionalism and even novel usages and phrasing are to be judged not by their form but by their courage to speak the truth.
I would cut Grocho by half, Allen by three-forth, and if I never hear another story about Norman Mailer it will be too soon. These are especially annoying when he repeats the same stories.
I wanted to like this book else I would not have purchased it. All in all, I like Dick Cavett's wit and the way he would seem to befriend his guest. I always disliked his tendency to turn conversations to his favorite subject - which is himself. I can overlook some of that, but his book is over the top.
This book is basically a compilation of all of Dick's columns for the NY Times. Cavett spends so much time complaining about George W. Bush's mispronounciation of the word NUCLEAR that one wonders how he ever had a career before Bush was president. He spends so much time bashing Bush(Probably helped get the gig at the NYT) that it makes you wonder how he has survived the last president's 2 terms without killing himself. Here is a good breakdown of the book: 10% Dick Cavett TV show memories 15% Dick telling you how stupid you are(He loves to use quotes in foreign languages and references to Shakespeare to get this point across) 15%Dick telling you about who he knows/knew and his great adventures with them 60% conservative bashing. Yes, Dick does show some kindness to John McCain, but McCain is not very popular with the conservative base. The book has some interesting moments such as when Dick describes the death of a guest on his show and his adventures as a child, but most of this is a series of trashy, condescending columns compiled into a "book." Read at your own risk, but remember you will always be a small person and too stupid to hang with Dick.
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