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Editorial Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Average

I honhonestly found the book really enhancing and in depth, it was just a bizarre format.
Dick Cavett reading it was worthwhile, I love his voice!

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Too much anti-McCain garbage

Reasonably entertaining, except all the Anti-McCain electioneering. He should have spent much more of the book on entertaining us, not trying to get us to vote his way...

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Wonderful storyteller.

Calvert really knows the art of conversation, storytelling, and wit better than so many other media figures. I could listen to him talk with reverence about his childhood entertainment heroes, political figures, and colleagues all day and don't think I would get bored. We are sorely lacking a modem day equivalent o his intelligence.

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I Truly Could Not Take This Any Longer

Would you try another book from Dick Cavett and/or Dick Cavett?

That's a good question. I really thought this would have been more about his talk show and the business of show.

Instead, it was a series of his columns, read by the author.

Now, I *do* like Dick Cavett. Except for a few really good and funny moments, this book was just boring.

The part I did like best, however, was when he was talking about his experiences with his publisher. Quite funny.

But, it wasn't enough to salvage the book. I stopped listening to it after that.

What was most disappointing about Dick Cavett’s story?

I understand he is an "intellectual". But, Dick, do you really need to sound like such a fop?

And, all the political bashing of Bush just went on and on. Just made you sound like a typical liberal intellectual pining away for the current guy's "third term". Ugh.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Pretty much. It's Dick's delivery, which is fine. I'm okay with it. But the stories about Mailer and such... sooo boring.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

I was very disappointed. Sorry, Dick.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Robert
  • PETOSKEY, MI, United States
  • 01-23-15

Not at all what I expected.

I went into this book expecting a pleasant reminiscences of past guests on his talks shows; and behind the scenes stories.
This it is definitely not. This book is just one long anti-conservative rant. I spent my youth watching and enjoying his various TV shows. But this book is just disgraceful. If your looking for a retelling of every anti-Bush, anti-Cheney, anti-Rumsfeld, and anything conservative; this is your book. If not like me; this book will turn your stomach.
This is a recorded example of an ultra liberal doing what they do best; doing anything they can to insult people they disagree with. I have been willing to over look his politics in the past because he always had great guests that interviewed; and never attacked them for their politics.
The name of this book is very misleading. It is in fact just a way to sell more books to people like me who have enjoyed him in the past; and thought this book was about that show.

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  • Gary
  • Minden, LA, United States
  • 09-03-12

The Title is Misleading

What would have made Talk Show better?

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.

Would you ever listen to anything by Dick Cavett again?

Perhaps, but only if he wrote it with greater care and avoided repeating the same story several times.

What didn’t you like about Dick Cavett’s performance?

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.

What character would you cut from Talk Show?

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A Fascinating Life

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).

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Honor for the intellectuals

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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.

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  • Russell
  • Marsden, Australia
  • 01-30-12

Name dropping and bragging rights

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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.

What did you like best about this story?

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.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

Dick Cavett performance is what you would expect from Dick Cavett. He was not disappointing. You even get some English lessons.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Name dropping and bragging rights.

  • Overall
  • Steven
  • Philadelphia, PA, United States
  • 04-06-11

GREAT listening! Quite a bit is “dated” however.

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.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful