Gay Talese, noted author of literary nonfiction, was interviewed by Blake Eskin of the New Yorker (on the New Yorker Out Loud podcast). He had some very insightful comments about interview technique and note-taking -- in fact, the conversation quickly moved from Talese's encounters with the soprano Marina Poplavskaya to a discussion of how Talese takes notes on shirt cardboards, and to his thoughts on the perils of using a tape-recorder for interviews. Talese has discussed his shirtboard method before, in an interview in the Paris Review, for instance. The image above is of one of Talese's manuscripts, on shirt cardboard.

Talese is quite a character -- he doesn't let Eskin finish or even half-compose a single question, cutting him off each and every time. The interruptions are telling: Talese goes to great pains to instruct Eskin in how important it is to listen carefully and have empathy for the other person in a conversation. At one point he tells Eskin "Writers are, no less than other people, sometimes self-centered. And that's one thing I never was... I was never self centered."  It is a typically self-centered interjection. Even so, his comments on note taking are worth a listen.

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