Grobel, Lawrence 1947-

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GROBEL, Lawrence 1947-

PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced "Grow-bell"; born February 10, 1947, in New York, NY; son of Seymour and Estelle (a singer) Grobel; married Hiromi Oda (an artist), June 1, 1978; children: Maya, Hana. Education: University of California, Los Angeles, B.A., 1968.

ADDRESSES: Agent—Peter Matson, Literistic Ltd., 264 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10001.

CAREER: Writer. United States Peace Corps, Washington, DC, volunteer teacher at Ghana Institute of Journalism, Accra, Ghana, 1968-71; Antioch College (now University) West Los Angeles, Venice, CA, assistant director, 1974-77, director of graduate writing program, 1977-80; writer.

AWARDS, HONORS: Winner of Newsday essay contest, 1963; interviewing award from Playboy, 1980; grant from National Endowment for the Arts, 1981; special achievement award in nonfiction from International PEN, 1986, for Conversations with Capote.


Conversations with Capote, New American Library (New York, NY), 1985.

The Hustons (biography), Scribner (New York, NY), 1989, updated edition, Cooper Square Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Conversations with Brando, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1991.

Talking with Michener, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 1999.

Above the Line: Conversations about the Movies, Da Capo Press (Cambridge, MA), 2000.

Endangered Species: Writers Talk about Their Craft, Their Visions, Their Lives, Da Capo Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.

Also author, with Sam Merrill, of screenplay "Helix." Contributing editor, Playboy; contributor to periodicals.

SIDELIGHTS: Lawrence Grobel, a longtime writer for such publications as Playboy, Movieline, and Rolling Stone, has specialized in chronicling the elusive, whether it's movie star Marlon Brando or the late novelist James Michener. In Talking with Michener, Grobel updates his interview with the South Pacific author twenty years earlier. Michener shared many of his strong views on race, sexual politics and education with his biographer in what Booklist's Dale Edwyna Smith called a "wide-ranging romp."

In Conversations with Brando (titled Conversations with Marlon Brando in its U.K. release), Grobel portrays the enigmatic actor as a "celebrated zipped-lip merchant who turns out to be lucidly witty about his job," as Jonathan Romney wrote in New Statesman & Society. Adapted from a series of interviews first published in Playboy in 1978, Conversations has Brando "doing a tremendous PR job on his own supposed depth of character and political insight," Romney said. Casey Harrison, in the London Review of Books, said Grobel's interviews with Brando's family and associates "give glimpses of a less temperate Brando, and restore to us some of the screen personal, the murmuring hulk promising childish storms of violence and tenderness. Which is the real Brando? Both, no doubt."

Grobel's biography, The Hustons, follows the acting family (Walter, John, Angelica), focusing on John, a "womanizer, a heavy drinker, a man who enjoyed playing practical jokes," according to a Kliatt reviewer. Grobel, the critic added, "leaves nothing out."

Anthony Pucci, also in Kliatt, reviewed Endangered Species: Writers Talk about Their Craft, Their Visions, Their Lives. The work, a compilation of interviews over thirty years, presents background on the subjects and the circumstances of their conversations together. "There seems to be less emphasis on the craft," Pucci said, "and more focus on the visions and the lives" of such subjects as Saul Bellow, James Ellroy, Joseph Heller, and Joyce Carol Oates.

Another compilation of interviews, Above the Line: Conversations about the Movies, explores the lives and careers of those before the camera and behind the scenes, including actors Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster, director Oliver Stone, and producer Robert Evans. In this book, Grobel "produces entertaining, informative chapters on people who have made a difference to the way we understand movies," a critic wrote in the Virginia Quarterly Review.



Booklist, September 1, 1991, Martin Brady, review of Conversations with Brando, p. 20; September 1, 1999, Dale Edwyna Smith, review of Talking with Michener, p. 57.

Chicago Tribune, March 3, 1985.

Chicago Tribune Book World, March 9, 1986.

Films in Review, March, 1992, review of Conversations with Brando, p. 131.

Kliatt Young Adult Paperback Book Guide, April, 1991, review of The Hustons, p. 30; July, 2002, Anthony J. Pucci, review of Endangered Species: Writers Talk about Their Craft, Their Visions, Their Lives, p. 33.

Library Journal, January, 2000, Michael Rogers, review of Conversations with Brando, p. 173.

London Review of Books, November, 1991, Carey Harrison, "Harrison Rex," p. 30.

New Statesman & Society, March 27, 1992, Jonathan Romney, review of Conversations with Brando, p. 38.

New York Times, October 27, 1989.

New York Times Book Review, November 19, 1989; August 9, 1992, review of The Hustons, p. 3.

Publishers Weekly, November 23, 1984; August 23, 1999, review of Talking with Michener, p. 40.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), January 20, 1991, review of The Hustons, p. 12.

Variety, September 9, 1991, Stephen Schafer, review of Conversations with Brando, p. 104.

Washington Post Book World, April 14, 1985, December 31, 1989.*