The interviews hang together superbly as a collection, largely because Gambotto has … the astonishing ability to reveal the absolute essence of a person.
- Australian Bookseller & Publisher
The title is apt: an interview with Gambotto often has the studied savagery of the corrida amid the crystal cruet ambience of high tea at the Ritz. Such ritualistic disembowelling, highly entertaining and in stark contrast to the asinine, PR-driven pap of most modern ‘profiles,’ leave the gored stirred and very shaken.
- from Undercover Agent by Murray Waldren
Thus, Jean Baudrillard – (French philosopher and) the pride of a new academic orthodoxy – and Antonella Gambotto … play quite similar tricks.
Antonella Gambotto … obviously cares, not merely about herself, but about ideas and passionately, about words. Whilst some have found her writing ‘cruel’ – the young can be very cruel, as Stephen Knight used to say – I found it tough-minded while enjoying her prose with its – Italianate? – tendency to rococoquetry.
- Don Anderson, The Sydney Morning Herald
Geoffrey Wheatcroft called their tool of trade ‘the killer interview’. Mark Lawson christened the movement ‘jugular journalism’. It was like a bullfight, he said. ‘Fifteen hundred words flash by, a succession of passes with the muleta, and then comes estocada, and another carcass is dragged away by the mule-team’ … [Gambotto is] one of our matador-interviewers.
- The Canberra Times
Antonella Gambotto … is one of the most exciting writers and interviewers it has ever been my luck to read. Gambotto anticipates her shamelessly honest approach to the art of the interview in the introduction to her new book. Explaining why a piece she did on Kylie Minogue was pulled from Elle, she tells us: ‘My experience of her as a charmlessly narcissistic and robotic dwarf did not correlate with her experience of herself as an incandescent, gifted and alluring siren’. As Homer Simpson would say, it’s funny because it’s true. Gambotto’s skill lies in listening to and then – in most cases – summarily dismissing the personal mythology of her interviewee. She asks questions that challenge and disturb them and invites us to consider the implications of their not always straightforward answers … Incidentally, the Capper interview is possibly the best piece in this quite brilliant book. … Gambotto is the MENSA mannequin, a shit-stirrer, a show-off, a fearless, funny, beautiful woman who never sticks to the rules.
- Tegan Bennett, The Weekend Australian
The role of journalist as self-styled vivisector of public personalities is clearly a role that Antonella Gambotto was born to play, and she does it with considerable verve, skill and flair.
- Fiona Capp, The Age
The title is a reference to award-winning journalist Antonella Gambotto’s acute observation, penetrating intelligence and rapier wit. These profiles and essays are compelling entertainment, her subjects are exposed by her skill and their own personal style, body language, public histories and – most tellingly – words … and she is very, very funny. A brilliant gallery of contemporary portraits that verge on caricature, pinned down by a gifted writer whose best work is tinged with satire.
Gambotto’s pen is much more deadly than any sword and her magazine journalism has sliced up some of the biggest stars of our time … Gambotto is the fearless investigator of personality journalism.
In this collection … it doesn’t matter whether [Gambotto] is talking to Charlton Heston, Jerry Hall, Erica Jong or Jeffrey Archer: Gambotto’s aim is to reveal the human behind the name. By what appears to be a mixture of charm, cunning, and a staunch refusal to play the coy sycophant, Gambotto does generally uncover a flesh and blood person. But she’s not a publicist’s delight. The problem is that she has a nasty habit of actually writing what she sees … Be vulgar, be brash, be sleazy – but be a foolish poseur and beware.
- Australian Book Review