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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  October 14, 2012 11:15am-12:00pm EDT

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criticized by a man in "the wall street journal" -- >> oh, i'm so glad you brought this up. [laughter] >> i did not ask them to ask this question. >> his name is lee edwards. >> that's right. >> was also a biographer, as you are. spent and he's a historian. he's written several histories of the conservative movement. he himself has been a member of the conservative movement, an important person in that. stomach. >> it's not jealousy. i can tell you that. one of the things he did disappoint me about mr. edwards being asked to write that review is that one of the things he takes issue is with i call him from his ghost rider. well, it was thurmond staffer, former staffer who had characterized his work on the book as being ghost rider. after talking to them i e-mailed mr. edwards and i asked him if i could interview him about his
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relationship to strom thurmond, what work he did in the kind of thing. and he said it was 40 years ago, you know. any interview would be a wasted your time and money. so my only thing i can do is he was sitting at the time to write a criticism of the book once it came out. and he got a number of other things wrong. he quoted goldwater speaking with thurmond and talk about the importance of equal rights in columbus after lunch a few days before the presidential campaign in 1964. what he didn't say is that he began by everybody singing dixie. there were many confederate flags and american flags, and as the new york times reported in that meeting that a considerable section in his speech was devoted to denouncing the 1964 civil rights act. and any review that said that the only key issues in thurmond's career or constitutionalism and national security, i don't think you will be taken, i don't think that
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passes the laugh test of a we all know about strom thurmond and his career. so i was disappointed that "the wall street journal" felt that this man, who had a close relationship with thurmond, and had been employed by from. he admits that in the review, that they felt he was the best person to a fight with the book for the readers. i thought that was disappointing. >> he had no knowledge that -- [inaudible] bradley edwards was going to be -- they didn't tell you ahead of time that he was going to be the person? >> no. >> do you have any other papers like the new york times or anything that -- >> there were no other reviews. the "washington post," washington monthly, if you google strom thurmond america, you can find some. and you should. >> what's next? >> i don't know. i'm not sure. i just finished this one.
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i'm still trying to figure it out. [inaudible] >> no. thank you all for coming out. it's been a real pleasure up. [laughter] >> booktv has over 150,000 twitter followers. booktv on twitter to get publishing news, scheduled updates, author information and talk directly with authors during our live programming. >> from the 12th annual national book festival on the national mall here in washington, d.c., christopher bram presents his book "eminent outlaws: the gay writers who changed america." this is about 45 minutes. >> thank you very much. for the excellent introduction and it's great to be here. it's an honor to be here. what a wonderful event this is. okay, my book is "eminent
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outlaws: the gay writers who changed america," and basically what i do is i follow the 12 different writers, 12 famous names all gay men, and how, from world war ii to the present, and how their lives intertwine and how they changed american culture. after world war ii, homosexuality was illegal in all 48 states. you couldn't even talk about it. these men, by talking about it as fiction found way to kind of go public with the news. they could've been arrested for being openly gay, and in a way they were. they said i'm just telling stories about gay people. this isn't about me. but people saw through this, this section. and they were attacked. their first books, even plays were bitterly torn apart. but it started people talking. and they kept talking so things change. the first generation of writers, gore vidal, truman capote, allen
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ginsberg, james baldwin, christopher, that took a lot of flak. the next generation had a much easier. edmund white, armistead, marketability, and tony kuchar. these people began to be accepted as equals, as major literary figures. so i was going to read to you a section tonight, today, sorry, about gore vidal. and gore vidal, at the democratic convention of 1968, and you'll see how one story leads to another injury. i'm beginning someplace and now in someplace different. christopher dedicate his novel to gore vidal. vidal was honored. but in the meantime he paid his friend a higher complex of competing with them.
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shortly after his singl manager, gore vidal went gore vidal went back to his old novel, 1948, revised and reissued it as if to establish his position as the first chronicles of kate american life. it was published in 1965, year after a single man, and included an afterword where he explain why he wrote the novel and offered his strongest statement to date about sexuality. i decided to examine homosexual underworld, which i knew rather less well than it pretended. and in the process show the naturalist of homosexual relations as was making the points there was no such thing as a homosexual. despite the current usage, the word is an adjective describing a sexual function, not a noun describing the recognizable by. all human beings are bisexual. declaring the categories now and avoid was an ingenious move. it suggested a whole new
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approach to sexual tolerance and vidal himself above the name-calling of the 1960. he couldn't be called a homosexual. there was no such animal. yet the position left them standing outside when the ground shifted in the next decade. gore vidal remained. he wrote plays, screenplays. he appeared on television. he ran for congress. he was also making a name for himself as a major essayist. is a early pieces were occasional prose on topics that happened interesting to exercise, access and electric but he wrote more regularly and is as it became more accomplished. they play to his wit, his curiosity and his ego. his editor later said the vidal it too much ego to be a writer of fiction because he couldn't support himself to other people. it was always similar and different costumes.
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the essays are vidal plain vidal and he did it beautifully. he had an affluent first person voice and a wide rage of interest. literature, history, culture, politics. he became a regular contributor to the nation in esquire, and after 1964, new york reviewer of books. but what vidal wanted most was to write fiction. he had to work in progress on his desk. is novel about ancient rome and a novel about washington, d.c. but fiction requires time and vidal needed to make money. he bought himself time when he adapted his political play, the best thing for the screen, in 1963. tired of his house in your city he moved. they are vidal finishes bet not -- best novel today. the last pagan emperor, is a subject that is the subject of for fastening chapters.
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expanding on the first person examples, and memoirs, vidal told the tale through multiple and a raiders, a device that enabled him to use pieces of a voice he developed in his essays. he was better at showing -- that are at telling and showing anyway. and first person narrative is all telling. storytelling. the book came out in 1964 with excellent reviews. it was a surprise bestseller. he returned to edgewater, wrote more essays, more political journalism and it worked in other screenplays before he returned to rome to finish his washington novel. this is simply named washington, d.c. is a family saga about political life from the new deal to the mccarthy era. at bush in early 1957, it was a step backwards, a surprisingly clunky novel written mostly in expository dialogue.
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there's a promising subplot in the homoerotic bond between a newspaper publisher, a young politician, but vidal is limited by the conventions of third person fiction and his tendency to express strong emotion in a language of crashing melodrama. the book received mixed reviews, but it, too, was a bestseller doing even better. many people thought it was a play about the kennedys. he wrote far better about politics as an essayist. he also spoke about it well. during this time he not only cover the 1964 political convention for esquire, he was a regular guest on jack paar. my entire life is now devoted to appearing on television, a pleasant alternative to real life, he wrote to his friends. he found a new vocation as an articulate critical insider.
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even though his only real political experience had been to run for office and lose. but vidal was rare in literary circles, and being fascinated with party politics. he claimed to have picked up cynical wisdom from his mother's family, in particular, his grandfather, senator keith pcor. but i suspect he learned more from his father, eugene, who had been badly burned by the government in his work with the airline industry. vidal picked up much more political experience later when he lived intimately with aaron burr and abraham lincoln are writing fiction about them. the question of homosexuality almost never came up on tv. however, in march 1960 7a new special was broadcast. cbs reports on homosexuals. hosted by mike wallace, a feature talking heads in so the wet discussing their unhappiness. and several pontificating psychiatrists including fiercely anti-gay charles.
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gore vidal appeared not as homosexual but as a cultural expert to debate with albert goldman. goldman who later wrote negative biographies of elvis presley and john lennon argued homosexuality was one of the quote things tending toward the final erosion of our cultural values. vidal replied, i think the so called breaking of the moral fiber of this country is one of the healthiest things that's begun to happen. vidal and austin returned to rome in may 1967 to live in a rooftop apartment. with a large sunlit tears but both men loved the city for many reasons, including the availability of young men for sex. austin could be quite friendly with his italian visitors while vidal relationships remain strictly professional. rome was an actual place to write and to concentrate on his work.
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one morning on the terrace while exploring a possible orgy scene, vidal hit upon a line, i am myron breckenridge who no man will ever possess. his imagination took off in a new direction and he followed it. he wrote the first draft of myron breckenridge and a month long creativity. a movie is called for changes if sexson goes to hollywood. myron breckenridge is have parity, have lyrics celebration. it suggests an american orlando. but virginia was crossed into fantasy is soaked in british literature, vidal is soaked in american movies. there are with descriptions of folders, prose about studio backlogs, and, how much is too eccentric film critics, parker tyler who is still alive at the time. the book takes the form of the first person journal which
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enables intimate narrative, social analysis moving laura and blatant erotica. is not only an orgy, but cute extended scenes where myra plays doctor with straight blond stud rusty. deliver voice of the essays is pushing into the absurd. but series as well as playful. quote of the novel being dead there's no point in writing made-up stories. look at the french who will not and the americans who cannot. look at me who ought not to if only because i'd sit entirely outside the usual human experience to the book is more about voice and story and it doesn't live up to the promise of the voice. but the same can be said about orlando. this was the book vidal dedicated to christopher who telegraphed in reply, i'm honored and delighted to have any book of yours dedicated to
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me. myra breckinridge was published in february 1968 if no advance copies sent to reduce. little, brown wanted to keep myra sexual identity a secret. it's difficult to imagine a time when people didn't already know. and they want to present the book as a classic underground novel integration of lolita. the cover featured a photo of cowgirl statute vidal had seen from his room when he first arrived in hollywood in the 1950s. ..
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the other literary bestseller that your was john heterosexual model couple. writers needed to offer something new and outrageous to hold their own with what was happening in the outside world in 1968. it was the year of politics and violence that the nation was torn apart by vietnam and race. linda johnson declared on march 31 he would not seek a nomination for president, leaving the upcoming election wide open. on the night of april 4, martin luther king was murdered a sniper in memphis. riots broke out in black neighborhoods across the nation. in june, robert kennedy was murdered in los angeles immediately after winning the california primary. then at the end of august, democrats manage chicago.
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cbs and nbc provided full coverage of both the republicans conventions, the bbc decided to give on the evening wrap ups. they hired korbel to deliver 15 minutes of commentary each night, and occur in the conservative point of view was william f. buckley. the editor and founder of the national review had established himself as the spokesman of american conservatism, author of god and man at now and other books have also had a syndicated newspaper column, on the right, and tv show, firing line. erudite and unearthly communist in his first elaborate breathy deliveries, manic eyebrows and reptilian, will. he is now remembered as a representative image when conservatives can be consider race, but buckley was ahead of his time in many ways. his exchanges during the republican convention in miami
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were testy, but with that seriousness sat. tv journalists, howard k. smith served as moderator. buckley support the war in vietnam, but i'll post it, but to demand that the republican nominee, and nixon. he was so excited i the governor of california, ronald reagan. the democratic convention in chicago was a friend. the situation from our tents. bitterly divided over the war was pro-war delicate supporting vice president hubert humphrey and peace delegates supporting eugene mccarthy. the division a second outside the convention hall in the street, or antiwar demonstrators based mayor richard do this army of police. but all buckley had their first tv exchange and away badly. some sometime during the streak since, the oakley had read ira breckenridge. [laughter] he hated it. he attacks the doll for being no
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better than a pornographer, a pornographer who had no business calling the republican party a moral. the doll lascivious for conversation on edge. the climax came on wednesday, august 28 and the convention hall that afternoon, the antiwar democrats can be a peace plank into the party platform. they failed. evan grant park, there's a major disturbance or somebody found a flat whole to race another. some said the vietnamese liberation front flags. others said it was only a red scarf. a cup of cops tried to stop it and rocks were thrown. the police then found a wedge indiscriminately spamming people with nice to experience capturing the mayhem in the daily. howard k. smith up in the broad cast anchor in part through
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buckley defendant police and blame the demonstrators, saying they are breaking the law. vidal defended demonstrators commencing their practice in a constitutional right. the exchange became more heated and incoherent. oakley cited oliver wendell holmes, whom you must despise. vidal cited the constitution. buckley interrupt you. and some people were pro-subfloor. some people were pro-subfloor and were well treated by the people ostracize them an answer ostracizing people take on other other people to shoot an american marines and soldiers. i know you don't care, vidal. as far as i'm concerned the whole crypto nazi i can think of is yourself. howard k. smith, let's not call names. and buckley delivered the insert heard around the world. now listen, you clear, quit calling me a crypto subfloor
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oral sock you in the face. let's stop calling names. buckley: and you'll stay plastered. but myra breckenridge go back to his and start making allusions to not see them. i s in the infantry in the last were. vidal: you were not in the infantry. as a matter fact i meet in front in the war. buckley: as anime butchery. vidal: you were not. you were distorting your military record. buckley and the grace to come a vidal in a dark suit, remain seated the entire time. buckley had a finger pressed in one ear, presumably to keep his earpiece and police say he could hear how we sounded. but vidal broke into a smile when buckley called him a queer. then he understood how angry buckley was in a smile wavered. buckley bared its teeth and
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leaned forward as if to hit vidal, but he seemed to remain stuck in his ear. the 16-year-old lawyer virginia watched the exchange with his mouth wide open. i was home for the summer from boy scout camp and i was amazed at true program could attack each other like angry adolescence. i suspected buckley meant queer in a nasty way and wondered if that were true. i was impressed by how cool and i'm flustered vidal remained. newspapers discuss the exchange the next day, but could we fear only to the disgraceful language. they couldn't actually quoted. they couldn't say queer in the newspapers. besides, there were far more things to talk about. nobody got killed on michigan avenue come in many were injured and hundreds arrested. a shouting match had broken out on the convention floor with apricots of connecticut
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condemned maher daily. americans were disgusted by the violence, but many blame the protesters, not the police. this is an age in the country still trusted its police. in the middle of the chaos commissioner burt humphrey was nominated as candidates for president. [applause] thank you. so i'm happy to take questions. of course that's not the end of even that episode. when episode i leads to the next. the book is kind of construct that has long strands can which were fun to play with and fun to follow. and in many cases as i was researching, i found things were not as i thought they were. they're much more complicated and it was fun to explore that.
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questions? thank you, yes. >> i was under the title of your ok is enlightening to the eminent victorians and this event that. >> yes, it is. the title "eminent outlaws," the editor proposed it. and i said i'd love his book and i agreed i thought it was good. it was their idea. it was a combination, a matchup of eminent victorians and john red seas, out loud. yes, kind of a deliberate connection there. >> i have really two questions for you. the first one is simply, what gave me the idea for the book?
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wendy's you can see that and what was striving not? in the second question is more of a political one. within the gay movement as i understand, there has been primarily an according movement that emphasizes normality, making itself except to go to congress and legislatures, et cetera in the courts. but there's a strand also this is no, we want to emphasize their difference. we don't want to underplay her differences with this but it that way. some i was wondering where some of the raiders issue of talked about in your book fall in that spectrum. for those of the two questions. >> may be off the question first. the riders themselves, they really didn't want to be normal. they really were outlaws and they were kind of wanted to strong energy, this creative
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energy. they would discuss anything normal to your bush was. so i think all of them would be, the older ones. i wonder what would make of what's going on. we want to be accepted now because were normal, but because we are who we are. and even the ones who are still alive today, edmund white, malkin, but to be paid, but the thing is the gay movement is like how normal we are. the smarter, more sophisticated speakers argue none of us are normal, including you. straight people are just as strange as gay people, so let's accept that. the first question was kind of a
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lucky accident. a friend of a friend called me out. he was doing a book on truman capote's movie. he wanted to know what the literary background was and had recommended that i gave him like gay lit 101 for the 40s, 50s and 60s. the book was called 5:00 a.m. i'm not getting the whole title right. and i ties him for about an hour with great conversation and we ask the questions and answer them. i said wow, this is great stuff. where can i read it? the book existed in one deserve to ask is that it really was a
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good story and nobody had written it. so then i began working on it. >> thank you. >> yes, i read gore vidal's homage to shays, which is one of his early books, was in a class >> an early collection of his essays. it might've been the first collection. i sort of was wonderful. and you mentioned that he made most of his money off of this essay books and you can see why. >> is that right? >> yakima movies with israel breadwinner. at one point he realized them spending more time on my essays than i ever did on the tv. he loved working on this essays and it shows. a beautiful pieces. >> he has a lot to say quietly
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sent to say about jfk. and it wasn't very complimentary. i had heard that jfk before he was assassinated had told his brother may be bad with got to see this thing through, which they never should've gotten into in the first place. but i just wondered, what do you have to say? jfk, was he a relative? >> now, jackie was a relative. he and jackie had the same stepfather. q5 can cause -- vidal's mother married a couple times. jackie's mother ended up marrying among several marriages, too.
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but yeah, he hated kennedy and read a scathing essay is reprinted. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> can you describe your research process a little bit clicks if you saw to primary documents or biographies anyhow you cannot researching your book. >> a lot of it is just a note at the library. i spent a lot of time at the library. i was surprised at how much the piece of the story i heard a new. it was like i had been preparing my whole life to read this book without knowing it. i read a lot of these books as they were published. the older books that kind of red when i was trying to discover who am i as a gay man? i had all the pieces of the puzzle. and then i started writing to draw upon biographies, published letters in any key pieces they
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needed to put the puzzle together. and there was a lot of fun. i realized i was -- we go from point a to point b. to point c. in the coach to the library looking for those pieces, the missing pieces. sometimes they would find them and would have to leave them blank. a couple of biographies i found were absolute gold mines of material. fred kaplan biography of laura vidal, which set for himself he did and said he never read. but there's great information, really good quotes. he did lots of interviews of people they found that really useful. peter parker's biography matches for the book itself, but hewitt quote a lot of journals and diaries. they are now being published, but not all day. he was sometimes quote diaries that are not yet published and that was really helpful. then there's a couple of small,
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surprising books by donald windham, an older writer who just had a couple years ago did a wonderful book, a memoir called blessed friendships about his friendships with both tennessee williams and truman capote. and i recommend it. it's a wonderful book. it really captures their virtues as well as devices. and i found a very helpful. so it was like that. i did a few interviews, but not many as you might think of places i didn't have the information. a lot of the writers had given tens of interviews. so i knew if i went to them, and what they would say, so i didn't even go. others i interviewed over the phone. mark kelley were poisoned in the end, interviewed him face-to-face. so does kind of like all these bits and pieces come appointment together in a single narrative. it was not deep research.
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it was fun research. i was telling stories and so i would kind of look for whatever i needed next tell the story. >> a bit of a tangent to the other gentleman's question, but in a lot of the books i have read about gay men from this generation, including at least one of yours, a lot of them seem to think of themselves as individuals being gay. so what i'm curious about is how a lot of these people react with the idea they are being a gay movement, a politically active group. >> excellent question. you're right. they react in different ways. some of them wanted no part of it. i'm not part of any movement. others were quite sympathetic and understood.
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he was fascinated by the rise of the gay movement and supportive and sent to will to be part of this, but i like what you're doing. it's anatomy. he said my habits are established, but tell me about it. he was quite open about it. tennessee williams had a very weird -- part of it -- >> i can just imagine. >> actually he was attacked early on by the gay group of writers say what it should come out? why do you have such negative cared tours? and he would kind of spam out of politics. i'm uninterested in politics. and at other times, he would say more positive things. he did his memoir in 1972 i think after stonewall and he was
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telling all the stories about a sex life. he was taking advantage of the possibilities that have been opened by gay liberation, even though he said he wasn't part of it. so i mean, gore vidal wh said i'm not a, but sometimes he was a very positive thing. he wanted to be seen as a major american writer. he did not want to be seen as a major gay american writer, but still he would be supportive of people. he wrote a wonderful review praising him at the same time it's not my thing, but it's important and i think i'm glad somebody of his talent is doing it. so there's a lot of ambiguity going on in that generation. truman capote didn't have anything to do with it. he just backed away from it entirely. >> thank you.
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>> i wondered if her own experience -- i'm so sure. i wonder if your own experience as a creative writer, a writer of fiction affect your perception when you reread the classic tax, that should explicate, and also if you came out of writing the book with a particular favorite of all the writers that you profiled. >> first part, as the novelist myself, i know of the game's creative writers play when they're writing about. even the politicized minority might late be gay are you just regrow models. you just have to tell the most interesting story. and sometimes the characters are doing things you don't want them to do and you have to let that
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happen. serve reading the books and seen -- i would cut these writers such as lack and secular mike in its history since it is another. there's a couple places where james alden later novels so off the boil. he just wanted to finish the thing in the book doesn't really quite work. tell me how long the train has been gone. and i would cut him some slack there because it does happen. you can't kind of take this moral high ground. so i think i was more sympathetic than a pure, literary critic would be if he and telling the story. as for my favorite writer that came through admiring more and more as christopher schuett. he was so refreshingly sane. part of the older generation, these guys took some hard knocks.
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they really got some harsh. vidal, really got a first for why critics and from what critics. and tennessee williams got it from gay critics. no wonder they went a little crazy, some of them. on the other hand, kind of state same with his insta relation. he had a great long-term relationship with don bacardi, which he wrote about honestly. if you're in a long-term relationship and he read his diaries, like i really hate time today. but that's on the surface. underneath i still love him. but she recognize what he's talking about. so i left and for that. it is just going back to the best book. goodbye to berlin. down there on a visit, which people know is a wonderful novel and of course a single man is quite incredible.
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>> one more question. no? >> i'm curious if there were writers who wanted to include, but couldn't because of the basic constraints or whatever. >> it was not so much space constraint as the way the story was going. this story dictated who i would include. afterwards, the title is a part homage to john ritchie. i never found a way to work them into the story. i allude to him a couple times, but he doesn't really appear. the tort song trilogy is a great play, at one point when i was talking about theater, i was talking about an earlier generation. by the time i got to theater, it
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was already after his time. had to leave people out. and i'm sorry because these are all writers i really find interesting. producers and narratives true peace. >> one more question. >> i guess my question would be that this generation of writers in the 50s and 60s who were gay and then there were writers in the 70s and 80s and writers today. have you see these writers you wrote about experiencing culture and today is gay writers? >> first-generation? to remodel the spirit they were in different ways both positive and negative.
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i mean, they were the older brothers, father figures the next generation was rebelling against. but then the kind of reactions against tennessee williams being an example into the 80s. everybody said he was really a great writer. about the michael taylor called gentlemen callers saying tennessee williams is not the self hating trans-eyes of his reputation. he's much more complicated, more interesting writer in terms of his attitude about homosexuality. searches clears the way. they were the point man, the one you step on the landmine in the next generation following didn't have to fight the same battles always. sometimes they do. for me one of the big revelations of researching the book is how berland and ugly but really literary criticism was
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that these writers. it was ugly, nasty stuff. and it continued well into the 70s. you could still have that condescending, indignant tone, only within the 80s did writers critically talk about the new generation of writers in a positive way. edmund white gets a rave review in "the new york times" book review. that would have been unthinkable 10, 15 years earlier. select i recommend through in a lot of the through it's a generational dynamic as you want to kill your after action elder and later and you realize, i love him. he's been one of my favorite writers. a moment later when you consider a space for yourself can you knowledge that. >> if i cannot see one more
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question. the motives that if you have a gay character in your novel, since her novel writer, the dm has to be bad for that character. you have to die a tragic death. did these writers stick to that motive? and do you think that has changed yet? >> that was kind of the standard motif in these early books. part of that was almost for reasons of censorship. if you were a lesbian writer, i'm blanking on her name. she said my publisher said i could write anything as long as the lesbian died at the end. so she said this is great. i can read about this whole range of experience i was living in gap, the lesbian had to die at the end, but it ain't about how many heterosexual novels and
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happily. sad endings are inherently dramatic here, karenina threw herself under a train. at a certain point, gay writers, in the 80s wanted to come up with plausible, happy endings. for political reasons and the unhappy ending is almost too easy. as a novelist is really hard to write a happy ending. it's much easier for the person to get themselves onto the train. it's more dramatic and memorable. you don't want to be sentimental. but in the early days, if it had a tragic ending, no one would accuse you of writing gay propaganda and that also failed into it. that tendency hung around for a while longer. interestingly, mark crowley, which at the time after a couple years is considered a bad picture of.


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