The interviewer

Truth Be Told: Off the Record about Favorite Guests, Memorable Moments, Funniest Jokes, and a Half Century of Asking Questions by Larry King

Despite the things I didn’t love about this book, I liked it plenty.

I’ll lead with the negatives: This is not a well-thought-out memoir. (It wasn’t meant to be.) This is a collection of anecdotes, strung together rather loosely. Probably it should have been called Stories I Tell My Friends.

But still I liked it. And I’m not even a big Larry King fan. (If I’m in a cable TV environment [oh, hotel rooms!] I’m watching junk like HGTV and What Not to Wear and those scary-intense shows about wedding planning. So I haven’t actually watched Larry King so very often.)

But the guy’s met darn near everyone interesting and important, and he tells great stories about them.

For example — I like envisioning Larry King and Colin Powell leading off the dancing every year at Ben Bradlee’s big soiree. That’s excellent stuff. Who’da thunk?

My favorite part of the book, though, is this: I like the way he writes about his life’s work. Turns out, I’m a complete sucker for books about people’s work, when they really, really love their work.

Here’s a sentence from page 1, when he’s describing how conscious he is of time: “When you’ve repeatedly got to slide into a commercial break, you understand exactly how long five seconds lasts.”

He also tells a hilarious story about his first radio job and his first time on the air, when he completely froze up and ended up playing the theme song 3 times to cover his silence when “the station manager kicked open the control room door and screamed: ‘This is a communications business!’” (p. 3)

I love that. I love it because it’s fabulous that the guy kicked in the door and screamed exactly that, and I love it because it shows that even a Great once was a scared kid. It’s wonderfully human, and you gotta like that.

So yes, I didn’t love this book, but I liked it plenty.

And then The Onion told me what truly was involved in a Larry King interview, from the other side of the table…

NASA Simulator Prepares Astronauts For Rigors Of An Interview With Larry King