Susan Sontag: The Complete Rolling Stone Interview

Yale Univ. 2013. 176p. index. ISBN 9780300189797. $26. LIT
In 1978, on two separate occasions (June/November) and in two very different locales (Paris/New York), Cott (Dinner with Lenny: The Last Long Interview with Leonard Bernstein) interviewed National Book Award-winning American writer and filmmaker Susan Sontag (1933–2004) for Rolling Stone magazine. These interviews comprise 12 hours of discussion, but only a third of these conversations originally appeared in the October 4, 1979, issue. This book includes the entire interview transcript. Cott knew Sontag since his college years in the early 1960s. In the preface to this work, he provides an exciting overview of Sontag's life, her major works, and the numerous interactions he had with her before and after these interviews took place. Cott describes Sontag's interview style as measured and expansive paragraphs, which the text of these interviews confirms. The discussion falls to a variety of topics including Sontag's battle with breast cancer, her writings, East Coast vs. West Coast mentalities, rock and roll's influence, sexuality, Nietzsche, French feminists, and the joy of reading. This riveting work would have been made even more interesting if Cott had included the reaction of Rolling Stone readers to the original material.
VERDICT This fascinating interview will appeal to anyone interested in Sontag, literature, and American culture and society.
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