tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg August 25, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT
♪ announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: terry macdonald is here. his career spans more than four decades. 40 years. he has edited some of this country's most influential magazines, including "esquire," "rolling stone," "sports illustrated," and has worked with and befriended many of our greatest literary talents. he chronicles his long life in publishing and in the world of letters in his new memoir. it is called "the accidental life and editors notes on writing and writers."
he is a friend and i'm proud to have him at this table. welcome. it is good to have you here. why did you decide and what was the point for this particular book? was it one you always knew you had to write because it was your life and it involved the ideas of writing and the people, writers, that you care most about? terry: it felt like i would always write this book but it didn't at the beginning. when i was leaving time inc., i went through files i had carried with me of 13 different magazines. i thought i traveled light. i found all kinds of stories, photographs of the relationship i had with these various writers and i thought the best way for me to show my own writing would probably be to write about these writers. i started telling those stories and then i started adding in
things about the media business from the peak of the new journalism all the way to now, which made it a little bit about money so it became about that and what you have to do to be a writer but funnily, it turned into a book about writers who became my friends. some who are now dead. charlie: does one stand out more than anybody else? terry: george, hunter thompson. those guys. also jim salter. it's a long list for me. charlie: this is a book about writers and their work and working with them. editing is what i wanted to write about, but it's also about friends, some of them are dead, so it is about that also. what follows is not strictly chronological, it bounces a little. so did i. [laughter] charlie: you called it an
accidental life because that is what you had? terry: i did. like the guy who made me an editor, his name was bob cheryl in my 20's. always a said you have got to watch out for the classic career path in journalism. you are stuck on a beat, work your way up. he said the accidental life is where the joy is, so you have to take chances and get fired. charlie: that defines me. i've never had a traditional life at all. terry: that is true. charlie: you go into abstractions. terry: i wanted to be very specific about these writers because it was in the detail and the specifics you learned what they were really like i think. charlie: is there one common denominator they share beyond curiosity and talent? terry: no. [laughter] and i have thought about that. i think the most attractive thing they had was an awareness
of their talent and a pride in it which -- and they all had a great work ethic. that would be it. they worked like crazy. charlie: everybody i know who is any good at anything works harder than you ever imagined. terry: they work in different ways. charlie: you said the second best answer an editor can give is no. terry: yes. because the worst thing for a writer is when the editor strings you out and doesn't answer you. it is a horrible kind of humiliating hell. that undercuts every bit of confidence you can have. charlie: tell me about bob cheryl. terry: we used to call him the other bob cheryl because there was another bob cheryl was famous for a book called "saturday night special." this book, the other bob cheryl, my bob cheryl said this book about handguns was so powerful, you should hold
it up to your forehead and learn how to report, because it was such relentless reporting. anyway, the other bob cheryl, distinguished from that bob cheryl, had come west. edited a little underground newspaper we said was like the village voice for left angeles, which it wasn't. it was called l.a. i worked for him there and he was the one who listened to my ideas and would tell me, maybe you should be an editor. we went around and around about that. charlie: why did he say that? terry: well, i think he liked my ideas. we used to drive around southern california a lot and i had this car i used to drive him around in. i had a volkswagen convertible. i have been reading esquire since high school and he had come from esquire where he had
birthed some of those genre-cracking stories and dubious achievements. he was a real force at esquire in the 1960's and still a contributing editor. charlie: was harold hayes there? terry: he was. i never knew him. i never got to work with him. charlie: also a great editor. terry: brilliant editor. clay was the one who put shopping and politics in the same issue. no one had thought to do that. he thereby invented the city magazine. that is what we have now. he invented lifestyle, in that sense. insisted on detail. charlie: insisted on detail. terry: oh, yeah. charlie: and loved the defining profile. terry: he loved that, he loved the high-end glamour of it, loved picking up a check, going to
that restaurant. he had great style and that drew not only writers to him, but celebrities who wanted to be covered by him. he had great access. charlie: can you make an argument that southerners have anything special in this world that we are talking about? terry: they seem to have a lot more charm and style in my business, anyway. there were many -- the southern editors are famously successful. they went to duke, they go to ole miss. charlie: hunter thompson. terry: yeah. charlie: tell me about the man you knew. terry: well, he was misunderstood, i think, because he had a persona that he loved so much that he had trouble taking it off. in private, he could be very courtly, sentimental even, and a very good friend.
charlie: this sounds like donald trump to me too. that is what some people say about trump. courtly in private but has a persona he can't take off in public. terry: hunter was never a bully. charlie: back to hunter. back to hunter. terry: one of the ways i learned about hunter was by observing and being drawn in to his friendship with george plimpton. very few people recognized this but they were friends for a long, long time. they recognize each other right all. they had broken onto the scene at the same time with their books. their books came out with him a couple months of each other. they were both 6'3" and a half, well
matched athletes except hunter was stronger, george was a better athlete. they both hated wine, loved cocaine. george used to call them the chemicals as in "do you have the chemicals?" charlie: they were both 6'3" and a half? terry: they were. charlie: they died so differently. one in his sleep, one with a gunshot wound. terry: yeah. a story that is difficult for me. it has to do with when i called hunter to tell him that george had died. i had -- a sarah plimpton had called me that morning and told me she had woken up and there he was next to her in bed, dead. she said to me "he just looked so damn good." so i called under to tell him and i told him what i knew and i heard that grinder of that
cocaine tool he had banging on the table and more silence and i waited. and he said "screw you." and i said, "i know." and we both just hung up. charlie: define george for me. my friend in your friend. and hunter was a frequent guest here, too. terry: the lesson of george was that you don't leave anything to chance. certainly not your work. and equally, not what you are going to do when you're not working, even if the work and the life are the same thing. anything to chance. by that i mean he orchestrated his going out, his going to parties, giving parties, meeting this person, talking to that person. introducing this person to another person. he did it with such a high joy that it was impossible not to be taken in. his manners drew you in and made
you think that you were in on some of the secrets even though you weren't. this was funny sometimes because george could not remember names, so when he saw someone that he knew he knew but didn't know their name, he would say "there is the great man," and whoever at the party was greeted by that was just so proud. one time, george, i remember him greeting a pizza delivery guy with "there is the great man" and there he was. charlie: richard ford. terry: richard ford very much alive and still working. his concentration on his work and his ability to translate things that are overlooked to things that become
telling in terms of the way you live your life is what i believe brought him the pulitzer prize. he is extraordinary that way. we are the same age and we have a lot in common and we always try to have an exchange. charlie: they can look at this. this is a clip from richard ford's interview on this program. charlie: this is what you said. i'm going to extend this strategy of extending you, having a character talk to you about things that are important and willing to try and reward you. that is what you said about writing in 1945. extending means what? >> he painted the things he painted because they were many things known so well that they weren't ever seen very well.
i wanted to extend -- i want to extend you to notice things that you think you already know as a way of saying in an almost moral way, pay attention. pay closer attention to that. i want to, for instance, extend your view of certain kinds of characters. if i had characters in a book who are people who repair machinery and farm land, and you think to yourself "these people aren't capable of eloquence," i want to write a story in which because of the action of the story, that they are moved to eloquence. in the process of making that persuasive i might extend you to believe you have more in common with someone then you thought you did. charlie: i do think they are capable of eloquence. >> it isn't just in art or literature, this takes place all the time. i always compare it to these
sudden moments when somebody has to move a volkswagen and they find themselves able to do some thing they might not have ever been able to do before. charlie: you quote part of that. terry: i remember watching that and thinking to myself, that is exactly, exactly right and i need to talk to richard about that and i called him and i believe we worked together more frequently after that interview, so thank you. [laughter] charlie: now i want to show you hunter thompson on my program talking about hemingway. here he is. the previous interview was from 1997. july 21, 1997. this with hunter is from 1997, june 13. charlie: what writer has taught you the most? who have you learned the most from?
hunter: maybe the most important lesson i was trying to learn --ly was that, since i was very limited qualifications, i was trying to tempt my fate in figuring out if i could get away with it. what i learned from hemingway mainly, the best lesson from him and his pearls of writing, what he taught me was that you can't be a writer and get away with it. and that was very important at the time. it wasn't like i was playing around. i had to be a writer. and that helps.
-- it isn't really a choice, that you made the commitment a long time ago. charlie: what is the great thing you miss that you didn't do? terry: i always wanted to edit joan didion. i never got to do that. she is my favorite writer. charlie: why? as a magazine writer? terry: she started in magazine. she started at vogue. charlie: and made the transition from east to west seamless. terry: and back again. and i'm from california and i grew up hanging around gas stations like she writes about and her voice and the way that voice developed filled me with a kind of wonder and i try to think about that voice and find other writers with the unique voice and marching through the other writers i was fortunate
enough to work with. charlie: dwayne carter says terry has got it down on paper and in both cases he has done it better than anyone, anywhere. live up to that, sir. terry: i don't know. that is very kind of him. very kind. charlie: this is a story about writing, editing, friendship, a story about storytelling. terry mcdonnell. what a pleasure. back in a moment. stay with us. ♪
♪ charlie: marlon james is here. he is the author of "a brief history of southern killings." the 700-page novel is a feat of storytelling. the story revolves around the attempted assassination of bob marley. it was narrated by over a dozen characters. this book was called epic in every sense of the word, sweeping, mythic, over the top, zzyingly complex. it has been optioned by hbo for a television series adaptation. i am pleased to have marlon james at this table. marlon: thank you for having me. charlie: pleasure to have you and congratulations. you came about seven years ago to the united states looking for a teaching job in minneapolis.
knowing you would do what? was this in your mind? marlon: no. when i moved to minneapolis, i just finished my second novel which was set in the 18th century. i hadn't thought about that before even though i was haunted by that story from way back in 1991 when i was still in college, i read this article. timothy white wrote the definitive biography of marley and he wrote this curious postscript when he went back to the assassination attempt and that was the first time i read anybody talk about this man and what happened to them. he still didn't quite know what happened, but one of the things i think of as a novelist, i'm attracted by mysteries. i'm never going to solve any of them but i like playing around with them. it still took me around 20 years to get back to it, but the
spark was from that. charlie: in between, you wrote other novels. marlon: yeah, i wrote two novels. one was set in the 1950's in jamaica. it is about two preachers fighting for this village. one is an alcoholic, the other is possibly a demon possessed. the second novel was kind of a slave narrative about six women who plan a slave rebellion in secret, an all-female rebellion in secret. and then we got to this one. charlie: you wrote you had a hard upbringing and thought about killing your self at 16. that is stunning to me. marlon: growing up in jamaica and growing up with jamaica's acute homophobia, it is not -- nothing necessarily had to happen to you for you to have this sort of feeling of dread. charlie: you have gay characters here. what is interesting about it is you didn't come out until you
were 43. marlon: 44. [laughter] charlie: 44, ok. but you knew by you were 16. marlon: before that. yeah, i think, i'm not really sure why. i think a huge part of it was just finding avenues to disappear in, like, for a long time, that was church. that's a great place to disappear in if you don't want to be yourself. so, that knocked off 10 years. before i knew it, i blinked and i was 40. there was always some way to sort of escape it, deal with it, cope with it. charlie: you connected as a writer, influenced by dickens. who else influenced you? marlon: certainly toni morrison. toni morrison is a huge deal. salman rushdie. charlie: why them?
rushdie, i read in church. when i was a deep in church, some of the novel "shame" i read and i had these big rivals with the leather binding around it and i would slip my book inside it and the preacher is saying we are all going to hell and i am laughing because i'm reading this scene with three sisters. when i first read that book, i was so appalled by it. because i am a dickens guy, a victorian, and the idea of messing with narrative like that never occurred to me. reading it, it gave me permission to write in a certain way. the same way with toni morrison. i grew up in a very british colonial education. the idea that books like those existed just never occurred to me. charlie: you eventually left the church. what happened? just disillusionment? marlon: disillusionment, change
of geography. you know, i think i was looking for bigger answers than that. because jamaican church can be very sort of, a lot of praise and worship, not a lot of intellectual growth or stimulation. i was pretty much just this celibate christian and believing it. believing that. thinking i am sustaining myself that way says not something necessarily that i ever confronted in jamaica. it is not until -- my standards for moving was i
just wanted to be somewhere else. which is not necessarily a knock on jamaica, and/or my country. country.e my but i just -- that was all. i think years of coming into myself and just wanting more out of life i think that made me start to think about what would i want, who am i, and where do i want to go? charlie: coats, what do you think of his work? marlon: i am in awe of coats' work. i just think he gets it. charlie: he does get it. marlon: he does get it. i have been following him for a while and even his article on reparation is the best thing said about it. which is something i follow. and i think people don't realize the acute nature of race in jamaica and i was
doubly aware in america. our racial mess is a different kind of mess. we are far more subtle. it's more endemic in ours. we have a very british racism in jamaica. we didn't have to desegregate the school, but you didn't have to if everybody is trying to bleach their skin and get their families lighter and lighter until we are full free. charlie: do you get up and write? how do you go about writing? marlon: it has been a different thing for each book. charlie: really? marlon: yeah. with my second novel, i got up at 5:00 in the morning and wrote until 9:00. with this, i wrote more midmorning until midafternoon 2:00.e 11:00 to around and then i am done. charlie: you just exhausted yourself. marlon: i did.
it is the first novel i wrote where i had to let go of my idea of what an novel should be. that was hard because my last novel, despite being written in slave apartheid adheres to the classic idea of a novel, the arc, crisis, resolution. multiple characters was not the original idea. stories sometimes peter outcome thehe novel -- peter out, novel doesn't end, it just stops. but i had to let go of all of that and at one point, i just told myself, you know what, i will leave it in until my editor takes it out and that is how i got there. charlie: and the editor did not take it out. marlon: i ended up taking out more than he did. even after he approved it, i took 10,000 more words out.
charlie: because you wanted to make it leaner? marlon: not necessarily. well, yes, in a sense that one of the problems of a multiple narrative is you have a lot of characters saying the same thing. sometimes they see it in a different way but after the fourth character talks about a killing on orange street, we get the point. so, that and a lot of it was trimming the fat line by line. until i ended up with something which i think worked. charlie: is it hard to distinguish your writing between history and memory and fiction? marlon: i don't think i try to distinguish them. one of the great things i think about writing novels, even historical fiction, is i still kind of reserve the right for invention, the right to fantasy, to make things up. this was in many ways my
responding to gaps in history. there are things in this story we will just never know, including the names of some of the men who tried to kill marley. we are just never going to know, or at least whoever knows is not telling. charlie:charlie: when you beganu say i am about to start writing the great jamaican novel? marlon: no, i did not start to write a novel. i started to write a novella. i was going off of jim thompson and ross macdonald, really classic short crime novels. i really wanted to write a cool crime novel. charlie: when did it change? marlon: he changed when i kept running into dead ends with these characters. the first character on page 458, .his hitman from chicago and because i was still writing it in the way i wrote my previous novel, thinking one voice would carry the whole narrative, i kept running into dead ends with each.
a friend of mine, rachel who was going with us, i said to her, i don't know who story this is. she said, why do you think it is one person's story? go back and read elliott. that was the turning point. charlie: is it like dying? it does not have to be anybody's story. marlon: it does not have to be, or could not be one person's story. charlie: or it could be marley's story. marlon: the marley thing happened because of gay police. i reread frank sinatra has a code, an astonishing essay. it were circumstances just by hovering around, circling sinatra and the people he bumps into in that circling, you can describe him, which is what happened to the point where i did not even need marley's name for the point. i just call him the singer. it turns into this bob marley
has a code kind of novel. including the people who tried to kill him. charlie: why did they want to kill him? marlon: there are lots of theories for that, one being that he was too influential a figure. let me illustrate it this way. in my grandmother's house, where there are pictures on the wall, they have the political already. no pictures of us, the family. there are pictures of politicians. that is how much the pilot -- personality is becoming ingrained. charlie: there are lots of pictures and african-american homes of martin luther king. catholic homes, jack kennedy. that peoplethe idea in the ghettos and slums of jamaica could think for themselves and could even to the point of maybe forming their own government was just unthinkable. both sides the right-wing and
wing both hated that. ,he was becoming too much of a unifier, i think. there is a character that says bad is bad for somebody. he was disrupting that way too much. that was one of the reasons, i think, the idea that some one side may have wanted him to become a martyr and the other wanted a racist influence. marley, the only person on the level of marley i can think of is maybe -- i think of another artist where so many forces working against them at least at once even while he is trying to create these brilliant records. every day is a negotiation between some of the most dangerous men in the country. probably days before, he was eating food and smoking weed with. this is why the attack on
marley, the attack on the house is this outrageous as event because of the house being the sanctuary in kingston. and these killers violating that. charlie: you show violence and sex and a rather graphic and detailed way. simply because that was the reality you felt and wanted to say? marlon: well, i have said it, i think violence should be violent. that i think there is always a danger -- of sliding into pornography with violence. sayi tell my students, i risk pornography. ,charlie: you do. get close to it. marlon: get close to it. because there is, it is not just a matter of being visceral. it is also a matter of being real. and i think explicit violence or
real violence, it may shock the reader, stunned the reader, but ultimately it ultimately doesn't turn them off from the narrative. if the response was, that was so bad i stopped reading and never went back. that is different from that was really shocking, but i liked it and i finished the book. that is a very, very fine line that you always have to walk in, i think. charlie: writing female characters. hard? marlon: writing all characters are hard. charlie: no less or no more? marlon: i think -- charlie: you struggle with them early on? marlon: i struggled with them early on. charlie: you call this affirming? meeting what, you are affirming the right thing you should do or what? marlon: loosest novel i've ever -- affirming -- i think this is the loosest novel i've ever written. charlie: risky and loose. marlon: two things that have
never been with fiction. i still consider myself a victorian novelist. and i still sometimes believe in the nuts and bolts to the point of annoyance with my students of telling a story. and just the thing with narrative, i am writing a chapter in blank verse or a nine page sentence. me, this to me is the first time the novelist in my head came down to the page. to be rewarded for that is a hell of a thing. it means i can be myself as a novelist. charlie: will this affect caribbean literature? marlon: i hope so. but right now, it does not need me. there are so many exciting voices, and for once we talk about caribbean literature, we don't just mean anglo. they've been revolutionizing
literature for years. there is great stuff from puerto rico and you know and don and ed we have a novel from the virgin islands. jamaica has a whole bunch of new writers coming back. charlie: what is next? marlon: what is next, i am leaving the 20th century behind for a little bit. charlie: where are you going? marlon: i'm going to africa and the 11th century. charlie: what is it about that? marlon: one is because i was having an argument about a black hobbit. it was the year when the casting was announced for the hobbit , the hobbit film and we were having the discussion we always have about diversity. and i was in an argument with someone about, even if the shire was multiracial, nobody would've cared. we would have just moved on. and my friend's response is that
lord of the rings is based on celtic mythology. it is european. i'm like, lord of the rings isn't real. you can do whatever you want with it. i'm kind of tired. keep your hobbit. the rich, think about mythical, and historical tradition of africa and the great african empires of east and west africa. the huge folklore that is there. there are monsters, there are witches. africa even has its own vikings, and it had nothing to do with scandinavia, but they were pillaging and plundering on so on. i'm not trying to write historical novel, i am trying to do an invented world. but pull on the huge resource and just sort of be a total geek with it. charlie: the book is a rich history of seven killings. marlon james is the author of the book of night women. and also, what was the other
truth the subjectivity of , memory, the relativity of all knowledge. , the winneru know of a prize for his 2011 book. his new novel is called the noise of time. it is a fictionalized account of dmitry just a coverage -- shostakovich's life under stalin. i am pleased to have him at this table again. let's talk about serious stuff here. you grew up in leicester. what does it mean? julian: it is incredible. my football club, soccer as you call it, after 65 support from me -- years of support from me, never having won anything, finally won the premiership. it's not even david and goliath, it's a tiny little figure. it is bigger than that. it has various sort of comic sidebars to it. accident emergency had twice as many emissions within a normal week after they won the
premiership. a lot of festivity going on. it has been famous for two things this year. bones of as that the person were found under a municipal carpark and that leicester won the premiership. a very enterprising publisher in britain, there will be lots of books about this great sporting event, has written a story from the point of view from richard the third, and in shakespearean english talks about ye fox beating ye manchester united. charlie: this is a quote from you. it runs on a bit but i will tell "i have not always been a leicester city supporter. there was a time before i could read or knew how to tune the wireless to the voice of raymond glendenning on sports report. but from the moment i became sporting lee sentient --
sportingly sentient the age of , five or six, i have been, as they don't much say then, a fox. i did initially supported second team. a team from the end of glasgow. because they were called patrick, and my middle name is patrick. i eventually stopped supporting this all, such is the strange irrational adhesiveness of fandom. when i was about 40, though, of course i still instinctively checked the results in my sunday newspaper. but apart from this dalliance, i have been entirely monogamous." julian: yes, i think that is part of most fans' lives. you get inducted into supporting a team at a very young age. i certainly don't understand people who say, oh, i am supporting x this season but i thinking of supporting y next am season. it is like people who only want to support winners.
the most important thing about being a fan is the suffering and the loss and the pain. and i would say about supporting leicester city it is always a good way to prepare to support england, because they don't very often win. charlie: it is like the cubs here. people have written about that and come close to it last year and may this year. you know the story of john mikel waithe, he -- mickel has for like 30 years laid down a big bet on leicester city. 30 years every time see bets whatever, 20 pounds, and this year he didn't. , and if he had, it would've returned $100,000. julian: it was 50,000 -- it was 5000 to one. it is very interesting because quite a few people took that bet. they put 10 pounds or so. with about six weeks to go when the team was having a bit of a
wobble, the bookmakers came in , and they said, ok, if they were to win it you get 10,000 , pounds, how about 4000 pounds now? it is very tempting. a lot of people accepted the money. charlie: they don't get the big payoff. julian: some people stuck it out to the end, and they got the big payout. charlie: the noise of time. shostakovich, a man probably suffered more? julian: probably more than any other composer in the history of western art did he suffer and endure the weekly, monthly, lifelong presence of power in his life, telling them what to -- telling him what to do. charlie: and so much of it -- hurt, you tell the story of sleeping by the elevator. julian: not sleeping, standing. charlie: in fear that the police would come for him, and he did not want his family to know. julian: that is right, he had a tiny -- he had a wife and a tiny
girl baby at the time. they would certainly know he is been taken away but he didn't want the door broken down or the nkbd, the predisaster of the kgb, slumping into the apartment. who knows, they mate -- might have taken his daughter away because political sinners often had their children reeducated, taken away, given a false name. put in a public orphanage. penny had this terror that his daughter might grow up not knowing that her father had composed a note of music. he might have been killed. he might have been sent to a labor camp. as it was, members of his family , members of his wife's family, associates and friends were taken away at different points. he was lucky to get back to france. charlie: what story are you telling? julian: i am telling the story of the collision of art and power and who wins and who , loses. who wins in the short term how , the artist fights back. in the long-term, who wins.
in the long term, as long as the artist has not been killed, they win out. we remember the name of mozart. we don't remember who the archduke of whatever was. and all those patrons of beethoven -- charlie: so what is the level of the humiliation of shostakovich? julian: it comes in different ways, and it comes in different forms and is very, very strapping. what we have to remember is that under the soviet union, all art was controlled to the tiniest degree by the state. so that if you were a composer, you could not even by the manuscript paper to put your notes on unless you were a member of the union of composers. paper,u had put notes on your music then had to be vetted by a committee of bureaucrats. if it didn't pass, you didn't get paid.
so there was a daily petty interference with what you wrote, and then of course, when the higher echelons got interested, many things happened to you. his first successful opera was a world hit in 1945. it was premiered at the met, the american premiere here. it was in cleveland, south america, and as a result, stalin, who thought he knew about music, got interested and went to see it. and from that point, shostakovich's life changed and he was always somewhat in danger until stalin died. after that, he was safe. charlie: after he heard the music, he allowed him to travel? julian: within the soviet union. but the thing was, he was supposed to voyage for his music. when his first simply -- first symphony came out when he was 19, it was premiered around the world.
so they knew they had talent there, but the talent could not be let to go its own way, it had to be directed. they were saying dmitri shostakovich, if properly directed, could write real soviet music. they certainly didn't think he should write operas because it was snobby stuff. they thought he should write film music, and he did write a lot of film music. charlie: did things change when khrushchev came to power? julian: yes, things changed, you likely were not getting killed, people started coming back from the the labor camps. to use a phrase of the poet, power he came vegetarian, which is a wonderful word rather than carnivorous. power became vegetarian. [speaking simultaneously] julian: instead of like man eating tigers. but there was still different sorts of pressure, they still
wanted to corral you into their way of thinking. also they wanted you to represent them. charlie: did he have to develop -- denounce stravinsky? julian: he did denounce stravinsky. they were given pages to read, either you look at them before or did not, and in he's he got have very long speech to read. he thought i would read the first page and sit down. the american translator read the english version, and he sort of idly followed it. he found himself denouncing himself, denouncing the cookie of, to know -- denouncing prokofiev, denouncing stravinsky. stravinsky, in exile in california at the time. and who shostakovich thought was the greatest composer of the 20th century. he had always revered him, and here he was having to denounce him. charlie: coming to this, did you
decide in your mind, i want to explore the collision of power and art, or did you say, i want to look at shostakovich's life and see what it means? julian: both, but the novelist picks up where the biographer and historian have to stop, where the known facts stop. and we without showing the joy, if we could, take you further into the person, to their art, their soul, and their memory. charlie: did you feel any pressure after the prize to produce something that would be considered as good or better? julian: no, i didn't. i was lucky to win the man booker prize when i was in my had i won in my 30's, it 60's. might've put more pressure on me. but i have written 20 books. i know what i am, i know what i do. charlie: and you know your audience. julian: i do and i don't.
it is nice that different books find different readers. some books work in some places and others work in other places. it is not, i tend not to write the same sort of books. this is, though it shares themes, as you said, of memory and truth. it is a very different locale from the other book. charlie:. what some of the critics have said. somber, brilliant, rueful funny, , poignant, savage. screaming with intelligence and literary flair, this elegantly composed fictionalized meditation offers a fresh gloss on a musical genius's collision s and collisions with power. julian: thank you for reading that. [laughter] charlie: well they said it. , i did not make it up. the idea is that we can hardly imagine what it's like, and the sacrifices that this great musician had to make.
julian: yes, i think that is certainly true. charlie: and it is too easy to say i might have done different. in defense of my art. julian: that is one of the themes of the book. it is easy when we look at a different regime in a different time to say, he should have done this, or he should have done that, or i would have done differently. i would've been the hero. we all imagine if we would behave better if our country was invaded. our countries have not been invaded since our lot came after your lot. sorry about the white house and all that. we always think that under tyranny we would suddenly become , heroes. the only part of the united kingdom invaded in recent islands was the channel islands by the germans in the second world war, and people behaved just as everyone on the continent did. they gave up their dues.
they collaborated and some were brave and some weren't. we all all made from the same humanity, all likely to be as brave or cowardly as everyone else. but the additional point if you are living under a regime like stalin's, it is all very well to say he should have been a hero , or he should've thrown the bomb or pulled the trigger. if you do that, you were also condemning your entire family, friends, and associates to the death camps. and so, unless you wanted to be dead and you wanted the family to be taken away, you had to collude. charlie: heroes, who are they for you? whose life and work have been most meaningful? in your sense of your life? julian: well, one of my great said, no the one who
monsters no heroes. ,that was his esprit de corps. that is in modern life, william folder, the great days of the gods and heroes and the monsters have disappeared. after those two died, the monsters came back in the 20th century, and we can't live without monsters, unfortunately. so i think my heroes some would , be literary and artistic. and some of them would occasionally be military. charlie: and shostakovich? julian: yes, he is a hero because he is also coward. charlie: so he's a hero because or despite his cowardice and did not condemn it? julian: i could not condemn it for a moment. in order to condemn it, you have to be a morally superior person, and i don't think anyone should claim that.
but the other point he makes in my book, because he was an ironic person courage is easy. ,you just have to do the one thing where is life, being a coward is a lifetime commitment. so in a way, and is a lifetime commitment, being a coward requires a sort of courage. charlie: the book is called the noise of time. ♪
mark: i am mark crumpton, you are watching bloomberg west. let's begin with check of the news. hillary clinton criticized donald trump for embracing elements of what she described as the alt-right movement. mrs. clinton: under the guise of outreach to african-americans, trump has stood up in front of largely white audiences and described black communities in such insulting and ignorant terms. mark: at a campaign rally in manchester, new hampshire, mr. trump delivered an unapologetic defense of his policies and political style. mr. trump: people who speak out against radical islam and who