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Gabereau, Vicki.

Toronto, Collins, 1987. 256pp, cloth, $19.95, ISBN 0-00-217753-6. CIP

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Joan M. Payzant

Volume 16 Number 2
1988 March

This bright, breezy book by broadcaster Vicki Gabereau follows in the footsteps of Peter Gzowski's Morning-side Papers. The short autobiographical beginning is written with the same light touch as the transcribed interviews of "the famous, the not-so-famous, and should-be-famous" (to quote the dust jacket) that make up the bulk of the book. The interviews are grouped into chapters with rather flippant titles such as "Almost Identical to Marilyn Monroe," "Rode Hard and Put Away Wet," and "The Dreaded Book Tour." The whole book flows smoothly and its parts are joined neatly by Vicki's personal introduction and her thoughts on her subjects during and after each interview.

Even if one is not keen on Gabereau's radio program, the index of names in her book is varied enough to tempt anyone to open the book and sample. From there on, one is hooked. A reader interested in auto racing, for instance, turns to the interview with Stirling Moss and then is drawn painlessly into the next on boxer George Chuvalo. Intrigued by Gabereau's interviewing style (which is more an informal discussion than a dreary question and answer period), he will not be able to resist turning to the front of the book to find out more about this irreverent female and her ability to ask questions that penetrate the reserve of the most reticent of guests.

I enjoyed the interviews with authors like Kingsley Amis, Robertson Davies and John Mortimer (author of Rumpole of the Bailey (Penguin, 1980) ), but I most of all looked forward to the surprising questions Vicki threw at them. She asked Kingsley Amis, "Do you ever read jealously? Do you think to yourself, 'Oh I wish I'd written that?' ” What author could resist such a question, and what reader wouldn't want to hear his reply? She asks Robertson Davies, "Are you a man of ritual?" and John Mortimer, "Who coined the phrase, 'She who must be obeyed?' "

While her conversations make for good reading, it is audacious Vicki Gabereau herself with her piercing insight into the lives of her subjects who is The central attraction. Too many interviews at a time tend to be a little indigestible, but taken a chapter at a time at bedtime, This Won’t Hurt a Bitmakes satisfying reading. Recommended as a great gift for almost anyone over fifteen.

Joan M. Payzant, Dartmouth, N.S.

*Reviewed vol. XIV/2 March 1986 p.82.

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