One of the best film books of the year is also one of the most unusual. Conversations With Clint, edited by Kevin Avery, presents the "lost interviews" conducted by the writer Paul Nelson between 1979 and 1983, for a Rolling Stone cover story that Nelson, who could be stone-cutter slow in the composing process, never completed. Eastwood's a good interview, well-schooled in the art, but Nelson was an unusually sensitive and knowledgable interlocuter, which Eastwood is known to appreciate (I recall during our own single conversation, a phoner for a sidebar in Premiere, Eastwood was inclined to extend our brief discussion for a bit after I had demonstrated that I knew who henry Bumstead was), and the two men had friends in common, and they got on. So these chats go well beyond standard interview stuff and give you a lot of unfiltered Eastwood, which is pretty entertaining in and of itself, but also shows just what a deft filmmaking mind the man has, how thoroughly well-versed he is in pretty much every aspect of moviemaking. In this respect, I'd say it's as crucial a text as Lumet's Making Movies, for instance, and of course it's just as impressive a study in voice, if you will.
On Thursday, December 1, at 7 p.m., I'll have the privilege of leading a discussion with Kevin Avery, the editor of this volume and the writer/editor of the equally impressive and crucial Everything Is An Afterthought: The Life And Writings Of Paul Nelson at the 7th Avenue Barnes and Noble store in Park Slope, Brooklyn. If you can make it, please do; it ought to be a very stimulating chat.