(Please: All Concise Interviews with Notable People are real and unembellished, and should not be considered satirical or fabricated. To think so would be wrong. The first four interviews first appeared in Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, the print brother of Timothy McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. The remaining three appear here for the first time.)
This cluster of interviews was conducted over a 15-month period, from April 1997 to July 1998, by Jill Stoddard, a writer and bookseller living in Cambridge, Mass. Her subjects are Al Gore, the president of the United States; Stephen King, a novelist; David Mamet, a playwright; and John Tesh, the multimedia artist.
JS: You have to pay for that over where it says “cash register.”
Al Gore: Oh. Thank you.
JS: You know, I didn’t think the doll thing was scary at all.
Stephen King: Really.
JS: Can I get your last name, please?
JS: Great. We can hold that book for you for four days.
JS: Would you like one of our discount cards?
John Tesh: Heh heh. No thank you. I’m not from around here.
The following interview was conducted in June 1997 by Greg Beato, a journalist based in San Francisco. Joe Eszterhas, a writer of screenplays, lives in Los Angeles.
GB: I was wondering what products and/or processes you use on your hair to achieve such body and luster? I have seen pictures of you from the ’70s, and your hair did not seem quite as spectacular.
Joe Eszterhas: I let the sun beat up my hair, and I spend as much time as possible in Maui. I’m also happier in my life than I’ve ever been. That might have something to do with it.
In September, Tim Rogers, a journalist based in Texas, posed the following two questions to Heidi Murkoff, the co-author of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” the nation’s best-selling pregnancy guidebook.
TR: So, drinking during pregnancy — that’s a bad thing, right? I mean for the woman?
Heidi Murkoff: Yes.
TR Is it ever appropriate to tell your pregnant wife, “I don’t want to hear it”?
Heidi Murkoff: You don’t want to hear it?
TR: You know, like if she’s going on and on, and then you just say, in a loving way, “Hey, I don’t want to hear it.”
Heidi Murkoff: Sorry. She needs that support 24-7.
The last interview was conducted in 1993 by Todd Pruzan, an editor at McSweeney’s. His subject is Pam, a star of the MTV television program The Real World San Francisco.
TP: Where’s the baggage claim? I’m totally confounded!
Pam, from The Real World San Francisco: Ha ha ha!