tv [untitled] CSPAN June 27, 2009 11:30pm-12:00am EDT
the american line, which is a book about the life of andrew jackson particularly during the time of his white's days by jon meacham. tom ricks, i guess i could say he is my favorite author who wrote fiasco. his new book, entitled the gamble, which is general petraeus' efforts in iraq between 2006 and 2008, and several others here. clocks-- fox this desert, three victories and a defeat is the rise and fall of the first british empire, the defeat of course being the american revolution. and one that i have just completed, malcolm gladwell's book, the al liars, which tells about why some people are successful and why some people
with fantastically high iq is are just moderately successful and i find it to be quite revealing and explains a lot of people's history as to how well, how they will do. but i am always reading several books, mostly history, a great deal of military history. that is what i do. i am chairman of the armed services committee and i think it is important that people involved with the military understand where we have been because it helps us determine where we are going. >> to see more summer reading lists and other program information visit our web site at booktv.org.
>> this is one of my favorite cities in the country but it is many people's favorite city including yours i trust. the last time, the next, the last time i was here on a book tour was 1991 for my second book, perry aref. i'd been on the 40 city book tour ended in seattle as some money towards do, starting in the east. by the time that i got to san francisco i was stating a by the time i got to portland i had the flu and by the time at the seattle i thought i was probably near death than it came time to go to the l.a. bookstore downtown here and give a talk. i thought i'm not going to make it. i can do this but i didn't have enough nerve to face those new new yorkers and tell them that. they can be abusive you know. so anyway went into the l.a. bookstore, dragging, and i got in there and even though the crowd was about the size of the looked at all of these bases around the stairs there.
i don't know whether it is still the same set up for not, i saw all of the energy in your faces. was anybody there? perry aref? well, so any way solve this energy in your faces and suddenly i felt better and within about five minutes i was scared and that cure lasted for about ten hours. by the time i hit salt lake city and the land of the mormons i was sick again but i can't lay that off on the mormons, i think. anyway, i remember the tremendous energies so i'm going to be feeding off of that tonight except starting with c-span. there these lights in my eyes i can see your faces so well, says and that energy down here. this is the last up on the tour but it is the one i have been looking forward to. this is such a great book city and its library, one of the most of libraries in the world.
[laughter] also one of the loveliest and most fascinating i would say. iae have seen it from the outside for goys is that a quick to or from the inside. in 1980,-- 1983 estate across te street in the pacific botelle, that little. tell on the corner and and the carnegie library was in this location i was working that time. "blue highways" my first but it does come out and i was working on this story for "the atlantic monthly," called a glass of-- it was about the burgeoning microbrew movement, and is probably all of you know, seattle was at the heart of that and northern kelly-- and to some extent new york state. but it was here reporting on that and we were staying across the street and meekham over to the carnegie library because it was such an old and play building and what a shock that to come back into something
that, this is truly at of the 21st century and i guess build the nat century. the first time i came to seattle with the 1962. you know, i was as impressed as everybody is. few cities can match that and i love the waterfront, i love the and the smith tower, all of these things that you all know so well in love. i was fascinated with them but the thing that overwhelms me, in 62 i was about 23 years old and walking up and down the streets of downtown, didn't have any wheels so i was on foot most of the time. i was fascinated with the faces. the mixture here, growing up in kansas city as they did in the heart of america, was in use to such diversity even a generation ago like that. looking at the faces of not only
black and white but asian, but even more than that they kept bringing into american indian faces here and then i really flipped out one afternoon when i came across and in the woods and later that day and elliott. i thought this is marvelous, all in north america coming together here but then everly was fascinated because i began seeing combinations of those people feel that the lost strain is the only one in america are not going to be happy with this but seeing these crosses of the malcolm of the world, thought this really in that way is the fulfillment as i see it of what we are doing in this nation. on that second book to were their bows, i was stopped along the way to get a haircut and was talking with the man sitting next to me while we both were waiting for a haircut. then we got to know each other kind of-- not the way dogs do.
dogs that each other. men do that by knots niching i hope that by asking a simple question, what do you do? if we know what the other fellow does we have some kind of a fix and we can talk, so we were chatting in that game of quickly and he asked me-- he was the high school mathematics teacher. he asthma what i did and i remembered i didn't want to answer that question because certainly in those days when i was a fresh writer if they ask me what i wrote i never knew how to describe it and i haven't got much better about that over time. i and many times not quite sure what my books are about. the hardest question for me to answer when doing an interview at the interview opens with what is this new book about, i am almost helpless to into the question. i going to this long ramble and i think that maybe brit one reason why the new book has the subtitle of an american mosey. i don't know about you but my life is not an interstate kind
of assistance. is born in 1939 and there were no interstates in in my life there are no interstates. i mean that i am not on the short trajectory to a destination as far as i can tell. everytime i think i am, i find how the hell did i get in the swampier? i am speaking metaphorically here but i think most of us don't lead lives from point a to point b to points c. so they were off here so i think my books reflect that. they are mosey paulson they do wonders of that straight line readers, mostly males who certainly compared to the other agenda are straight lines thinkers. let's get there, let's get there. you get a conversation with the man and woman and a woman is talking and talking iniki to the point where the man says, we get to the point? she says this is the point. that is kind of helmet books are. you will see tonight this talk
is like that, wondering around. i figured, he get to a few good things. at any rate back to my story. about the barbershop, so he asked me what i did. i said i am an author, i'm a writer. i never use the word out there. the next question was the one where i was in trouble. what you write? that is the one i did not answer. i guess you can call a travel. andy lost all interest, thank god. he said i just read a good travel book the other day. what is it? i kind of like it. what was that about? seas said oh-- i said what is the title? he said i can remember the title. who wrote it? i can remember who wrote it. what is it about? he said well, there is this guy. i think i may have read this one. i think the mayor fred this one. [laughter] he gets in an old than any
starts driving around the back roads of america. i said, yes. he said the name of it is blue roads, no, "blue highways." i said, did you like it? he said it had some problems and it but it was pretty good. i said i understand it sold pretty well. you what to write yourself a book like that. i said well, i have. oh, said he. what is yours called? i said, "blue highways." no, no, not the one i'm talking about. what is the one that you wrote? i said, "blue highways." he checked my eyes for sanity in the said are you the moon guy? i want to do something, partly because we have the visual audience with us, numbered in the millions.
but i thought i would give some kind of the visual aid. i wish i were like mr. rogers, and we could do an experiment to appear but i don't have that capacity. but i can do this because i am often asked this question. the question is this. when i'm on the road in my writing the book then? yes, it depends of course would you call writing. i tried to convince my family, and he will meet one of them tonight for a few minutes. she is sitting over here. she is a character in this book, quite a character. i tried to convince them that i can be taking a nap and work the same time. i have to be honest it does not often work that way but there have been times in which i have been taking a nap and babil little bit of a dream or a relaxation and a different part of the jury-mad brain starts working and i get a good idea. so, that it's happened twice that means it can happen again so naps count, you are working but writing is more than simply
putting, in my case pencil to paper. i star with a pencil and paper before i go to electronics. so, it might bring is turning i could be working right now and something will come out that i don't know but it any rate, this book, which somebody last week called the doorstop of the book, i am going to take mine in july it in prop one of the doors open with that i guess. i did not mean for to be this big. i wanted to be smaller than "blue highways" but the stories kept coming out and i get meeting these people and i have to put that one in two, so i did. i always figure that if you are going to buy a book he-will get a good deal. [laughter] this is a hell of a deal. i figured out the other day is 4.7 cents per page if you read the book once. if you read it twice, you cut your costs down by half and if yours buzz reitzig, it goes down again. by today's standards that is
pretty good, 585 pages, something like that. any rate, this doorstop began, and i hope that i have it with me, i do. began not with this particular one, but with many little notebooks like this. if you are brighter, and i know from past audiences that many of you are or plan to write something some day, these are great little things to have. if you are going to catch the voice and sound of people you need to be able to write down what they say right away, not everything they say but it please the phrases that a person can use that are so colorful. these things are great. don't get them once made in brazil. i lost half of them in the prairie winds because the pages come liz. i would open it up then, there goes chapter 6. anyway this comes first. what i do in these terrain today
is simply jot down phrases. here is an account for things that happen today. you can't see that back there but just a few little words. tonight or tomorrow morning i will sit down and look of these phrases in that will remind me of what was going on and give me a chronology and allow the memory to kick in. then i go to one of these, and there were two of these from "road to quoz." this is volume to from "road to quoz." you can see it is a that the income of 517 pages or something. i learned after "blue highways" and riding "blue highways" i had no idea what i was doing. i was merely trying to put my life together and if you read the book you know what i'm talking about. i was taking notes on the backs of napkins and matchbooks and i was trying to write on the steering wheel of it than that it traveled then hand at that time the tulane wrote and montana's were not what they
were today. i took chapter 6 of prairie eric, i don't know how many chapters were on the montana highway and when i got home i was trying to read my handwriting. when it learned is that early, before you start actually trying to draft a book if you are working from a text that will fired your imagination, you are going to like it better so i started making these books-- forgive this word but i don't know another friend of the top of my head. i tried to make them is artful as they could so that i tried to write for mark illegibly and i filled them with pictures, images anything that will trigger something, a lot of maps, fold up things. that is an island in south carolina with notations on there that will allow me to reconstruct things. there is the map of about half of the travels in was.
you can see the lance which remind me of how things to fit together. what i'd do it this way feel it that inspired. woody allen said about writing that the hardest thing is to go from nothing to something. i wish i had known that a good many years ago because it is true. it is the terror of the blank page but if you start with these little velitation, which in here, which are done. at vests they are sis. if you start with those, then ride from the beginning begin to have something, but nothing-- and because of that, i think i have never, is there any blood on this building i can knock on? there is not a piece of wood in here, is there? knock on wood, i have never suffered from writers bobrick wide to suffer from trend to figure out what the hell the book is about and how to put it together.
earthed 67 years to write because i couldn't figure out this simple tic-tac-toe design that controls the book. once i had that great in my mind everything that i learned in seven years came together and i could write the book. this one as i will talk about the concept the proud of together with the letter q and q as an alphabetic letter as a kind of concept that i could work with. so you've got the little book, the bigger buchan fiman this but what is in between? it is early drafts of the book. and in this case the ten drafts of the book, 50,000 pages-- i am sorry, 5,000 pages. [laughter] i think the thing that i always try to do in a ways to imitate the iceskater, the competitive eyes that goes out there and makes what he or she is doing look like you could do it and that is what i tried to do.
i don't mean to sound negative net but it is important in my books to try to make them conversational even though i am getting into history and ideas and any number of things but it takes those tend rats i think to do that, those 5,000 words before you get to this. that is not feed back. that is god talking to what or somebody. [laughter] when god speaks i do listen. and for a guy who is a is in druid that is a strange thing to do. [laughter] that was setting up what i wanted to say. three points i would like to make about this new book. this is wonderful, because they think this point early in the books history if you of not read the book, had the chance to defend it. the hard thing for a richard this point in a book's history
is that these reviews are coming out in most all of them are done quickly. the need to be and they are done quickly so that the ricky were at best will give you the reader an idea of what the book is about. many of them spend way too much time on their opinions. they can make up their own minds. unfortunately they do read fast, and they almost never, speaking of ricky where they almost never understand the book is about. for example it took two years for any reviewer or subsequent critic to realize that "blue highways" was about a "blue highways," a highway of trying to live on this planet. my publisher is a great publisher, little brown and company, who did something i did not know what they were going to do and they did in so we on this one so it didn't work out so well. they sent out review copies which were missing the last few pages of the book, which talked
about quoz. there's a book called "road to quoz" and one of the sections about quoz is not there so i had to cut the review psalms lack. at this point-- what i wanted to say was it is nice to be able to get to you about the same time your reviewers of gotten to you if you have read in the of these. i did see the one in the seattle times last week. a pretty good review. nobody at his ryckman entirety without making mistakes about the book but again i think that is this bill that reviewers typically move through. three things, one, if i-- my students used to go crazy and the saying and for this third point i want to tell you. i addressed to the reader in the book for a number of reasons. this is the most important one. when i am writing, this is the stage now, going from the log book to it mental draft and inc.
draft, then i go to my laptop so one of the stages in their, you are in the room. you don't have a face, you don't have a gender, you don't have a race, you don't have our religion, you don't have any politics that fiori presence in this room, as if you were speaking to god, as if he were god, this presence in the room and when i'm writing i'm talking to this presence in the room so when i come out to seattle when they see your faces and they see these are face is aware that rural areas. so it seems to me natural to talk tealand address you. it seems to me phony to pretend they you are not there. why would write books that there was not the reader on the other side of them? but, some people, some reviewers have been up said of ready by my dressing you. if it annoys you, it is not that much, just keep going and forget it. i apologize now for knowing you.
i will do some other annoyances but that is not one of them. anything more to say about addressing you. it was fun to do i must say and i don't know whether i can do it again. i don't want to get into some kind a predictable thing but it was fun doing it and i think it did, i think it did change the tone of this book. the second point i want to make, i have never edited a book in this way before. when my editor in new york read the first pages of, about the fifth draft of the book, he said your current chapter 1 should be chapter to endure current chapter to should be chapter 1, so i was aware that might come up because as you will see, chapter 1 is extremely eccentric, the most eccentric chapter in the entire book. chapter 2 is radically
different. you think there were probably written by two different people. chapter 2 is the story that a woman told me on the mississippi river on the delta queen a few years ago so it is her story and i'm simply the mouthpiece. i thought no, no i want to pull the reader in immediately and reach out and get a story line. i don't want to talk about this concept of q and quoz. i will put that off until later so i did not get it in progress and the book off and he broke back again and said, i am convinced even more that chapter to should be chapter 1, so he put enough doubt in my head and this is what i have never done before. i have ran off copies of both chapters, gave them to seven friends and said, tell me which one you think should be chapter 1 in which should be chapter two, so they did and the vote was i think 6-1 against me. so, i thought i probably will live to regret this but i will do it. so, my chapter 2 is now
chapter 1 and if you were reading chapter 1 hand you think, this is just too weird, this is to eccentric, i'm not sure the guy is fully balanced on this. stop reading, go to chapter to. [laughter] there you will meet mrs. weatherford, she is gone now but she is intimately hussain. unfortunately i don't know how many readers "road to quoz" will have over the years but i'm not going to be able to get by with this much longer. he told me, pass the word. the third point, and desai of curd diverse sense "blue highways" but especially in the last three books, with great earth, "blue highways" and knouse "road to quoz." you like this about what they do or you don't like it but it is easy to ignore it in you can come somebody would have a feeling of what i'm talking about, vocabulary.
that may say it this way. as speakers of english, american english, we have the largest vocabulary on the planet earth. the largest vocabulary, four and a thousand words there about. i don't know how to count those. i don't know whether for example lit you say run is one word, running, is that another word or is that the same word? ronnettes, rand, you get the idea here. anyway i read this more-- more than 40,000 words. shakespeare used about 30,000 words and once again i don't know how you count those words. i counted my own though. i did not count them, my computer did. i know what my count is but i'm not going to tell you because i am in paris. with all of the computer words i used it is so far shy of shakespeare that i feel inferior. a i am inferior but i don't need to feel that way all the time. [laughter] i think that if we had the ridges vocabulary on earth why
would we not want to use it? it would say, i'm going to live on bread and water even though next door there's this and less almost endless buffett of anything i can imagine. yes there are people who will live on bread and water and there is one in "road to quoz" who would do that, you'll meet her. i nothing there's anything wrong with that. i am just saying it would be wrong for me. i like good bread, but if there is a buffet next door i'm going to be their most of the time. so it seems to me there's certain people in this country, and i won't say they are all professors or the other riders. i'm trying to think of exceptions, no i can't think of one but there must be. but these are the people who act as if you use the word that they don't know you have just insel them. insulting their intelligence. when somebody uses a word i
don't know what i am happy because the day is not a complete loss. especially at this stage in may for getting into days but it was nice for those few days having it. i could use it for two days. so you will find lots of words and an dechert-- for rejector you will find a bunch of them beginning with q. that leads me to-- i must say something more here. we are pretty much under the dominance today of what we commonly called the plain style in terms of writing. "the new yorker" perhaps is one of the magazines, one of the places you can find plain style done as well as anyplace, that it is done beautifully their most of the time. i have no objections to plain style i don't. occasionally they do use plain style myself but i do say this. why do we want to restrict ourselves, and this will parallel what i say about
vocabulary, why do we want to restrict ourselves to one style when we can have many? the more that i read especially in the 19th century, i realized how as storytellers, as writers and people just talking, how we have cut back on the expense of our ability to express ourselves. if you go into the south today, you'd hear the stories that the southerners tell, and it is true even today, it may have slipped a bit but it is still better than what you are going to find in minnesota for example, in minnesota. the southerners just of the way. i spend a few weeks teaching in wisconsin not long ago at beloit college, a wonderful college and i had a marvelous time. i love the people of wisconsin a great deal. but as storytellers, there perhaps a bit shy. by example that i did say is this,
IN COLLECTIONSCSPAN2 Television Archive Television Archive News Search Service
Uploaded by TV Archive on