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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  September 7, 2009 11:00am-12:00pm EDT

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>> guest: yeah. harvard is an odd place because everyone who was the best at sothingt their high school school and then gets to harvard and there thrown into this world, all these geeks that are thrown into this world, and then there's this social hierarchy where there's an old boys neork between secret societies -- they're not reay secret, they're more like a mix between a skull and bones and a fraternity, but only 1 percent of people are in them. it's not like a normal college where you have geeks and athletes because everybody at harvard's a geek. trying to find your place in is world is difficult. the harvard guys just don't kw how to party at all. we would go to mit to party which says a lot. we weren't the cool kids in high school, you know, we weren't going to keggers in high school. >> host: how has the social life at harvard changed since facebook? >> guest: that's how you meet rls, that's how you meet
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people is go on facebook. so that is the biggest change in terms of the social world there. >> host: and did you go back to harvard to research? >> guest: i did. i spent a lot of time partying, but i still look kind of young. i got in with the phoenix people, so i got to hang out at some of the upper secret rooms of the phoenix and watch all the goings on. so, yeah, i spent a lot of ti there. when i went to school there, i didn't end up joining the finals clubs because i didn't know them. i did get a letter from the phoenix, but it wasn't a group of people that i knew well, but i did go to their parties a lot which was fun. >> host: did you get a sense that people at harrd around proud of mark zuckerburg? >> guest: very proud. larry summers the following year takes at a freshman orientation about facebook. it's one of those things that came out of harvard and in a lot of ways could onl come out of
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harvard because youeede that special kid to make it. and i think they're very proud. >> host: you don't think there are speal kids at other -- >> guest: no, there are, and they're coming out with their own things, but in terms of what facebook started as, it was very exclusive when it started. you hado have a harvard id to join. >> host: well, that was, yeah, part of the allure. >> guest: yeah, this private, secret thing that harvard kids are doing, so then it moved from university to university. >> host: right. and i think that's still a little bit a part of it. you have to ask someone to be their friend, so -- >> guest: right. you have to beg your way in. >> host: exactly. well, it's been a delight. >> guest: it has been. i think this was awesome, and hopefully we're going to hang out now because i love your work as well. >> host: yeah, we'll go to a casino. >> guest: yeah, we'll make some money. awesome. thank you. >> host: thanks so much. please welcome the moderators,
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elizabeth taylor and rick kogan of "the chicago tribune." [applause] .. is because we are having studs withdrawal, for the last eight yearsiz and i shared that stage at the harold washington library wi stu talking about his life, his times. liz has known him for a long time. i have known him since the day he came to wesley hospital, the night i was born to take my dad out for a drink. that's a very long time. it is hard to shake stu who died on halloen this year.
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but this book, brangs him back to life for me in an unexpected, and, unbelievably charming and real way. i know you agree, liz. paul and harvey, whose idea? how did you do this? who is the genius that came up with this? it is unbelievably good. >> paul. >> did he? >> paul, deserves i think you know, paul deserves, you know, like, i think a lion's share the material, the praise for doing the book. for one thing he has taught oral history for a long time at brown university and, you know, he is for a long time been a studs terkel admirer, and fan. i think that, you know, that, i think the artwork was real nice too. it was just -- >> it is not all yours
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either it is not all yours, is it? >> no. i didn't mess around with his words. i didn't change anything. >> yeah. >> so, you know, i mean, i just, broke the text down into panels, you know, some of the artists that apparently didn't want to, i don't know. but anyway. >> yeah. >> but paul, paul i've been working with paul on a few projects now. he suggests them and then -- >> when he suggested this, did youll of sudden go, were you excited immediately about it? >>'m always exced when i get a chance to make more money. [laughter] nothing thrills me more. yeah, no, but i was aware of studs terkel and i have, you know, a connection with whim. we bothre realnterested inife and stuff. -- >> mostly because you led it, you know.
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>> well, he interviewed people about their jobs, and i just, used to just write, and i wrote about my job, you kw. like autobiographical thing. but, you know, i immediately saw, you know, like felt an affinity for him when i became aware of him i guess in the '70s. >> did you ever meet him? >> no, i haven't. >> that's a shame. i can speak, you guys would have loved each other, don't you think. those of you? paul, the seed of this, have you talked about this with studs? >> you know, just aplittle, a very small amount and mainlyhrough friends in the studs last year or two. so, i had done a book or two with the new press. really wonderful publisher, and, they are responsible for bringing out studs's work in so many volumes. it seemed like a natural step for me to proboat a studs comics volume.
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because at the new press, embodies his work but also because, as harvey suggested, my point of view, i taught oral history for a decade at brown and when you teach oral histo to college stents or for that matter high school students, studs is the one and only charismatic personality in the field of oral history. some people write extremely intelligently about philosophy of it and the problems with it and so on and so forth. there are thousands of us, me included, who have done a whole lot of field work of our own in oral history. but when you think of books to assign to that give students at any level a idea of what oral history can do you invariably come back to studs as the first person. that is true for oral historians, people that teach oral history in europe and presumably, asia, every where in the world as well was united states. there is no figure like studs terkel within oral history. a small field, a field that ha very little resct
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within academic life but which represents a popular, approach to history that is par excellence. it exceeds any other historian's group of the quotetidian life. >> as liz well knows, talk about this, liz, one of the great things about studs, he was a trained actor befe he started doing oral histories. he fell into different radio shows and was really good at that. he was the most mechanically inept human being in the world. >> right. >> most oral historians would go in, please let's talk sit there. studs would -- >> he would always say that, one of his great advantages was that he was inept. >> yeah. >> one of his amazing stories, one of just, i love this steer, tells of a woman in public housing -- is this one, rick.
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god, amazing story in public housing. and he has interviewed her and her small child is, after the interview, before the interview futzing with the tape recorder and they have the interview. the boy goes back to the tape recorder. studs tells it much better than i. watches the kid and then, suddenly the tape plays. and it is the woman's voi. and, she says, i never knew i felt that way. and i feel like, that's what, what studs is about. he just -- >> that was the genius, that was the genius of it, wouddn't you think, paul? that he was able to reading it in thi fashion, tell me i'm wrong about this. i don't know much about, i'm old fashion that way. i know graphic novels and graphic rresentations of rds are becoming
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increasingly, increasingly, popular, this is a way i think tontrodu studs to th generation that might ordinarily, might miss him? >> sure. absolutely. it's also true of the book we'll be talking about tomorrow, the beats. because it is a way of getting readers, mainly under 25, to look at books, i think about reading those books, when they sply wouldn't come into contact with them otherwise. >> studs has written so many wonderful books. the good war. always said, should be in parenthesis, good war. hard times, division street. how did you decide -- >> that's a great queion. i'm nticipating that question because i went round and round with new press edito about it and, i had different suggestions, at different times. "hard times" has always been a fabulously important book to me. i don't want to put aside
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his stuff with jazz musicians and most of this audience could come up with d answer is probably pretty simple. that, working as the book, that is perhaps even better known than studs himself at this point. just happened that, state endowments for the humanities produced little playlets working 20 years ago. i was humanist in the state of rhode island who engaged the audience in a conversation about it. it was like an occrence. and, what working managed to do, in my experience with audiences and with stwunts, to epitomize what's best in oral history. which is to say legitimate the daily lives of ordinary people who would not consider themselves worthy or at least likely ever to be interviewed and ever talk about their own lives in that fashion. which is, ectly what the point liz brought up. it is not unusual thing in
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any field of oral history with ordinary,lue-collar or lower middle class people say after the interview, to say i, i never felt that way. or to begin crying. that is perfectly ordinary experience of somebody interviewing somebody in their 60s, 70s, 80s. things come up they didn't anticipate speaking about. as i always say to students, you don't want to stop them from crying or anything because this is an experience that's terrible important to them. it validates their life in someashion or another. but, even though that is the oral history experience in a way, nobody so well-articulated it and demonstrated it over the last 30 years as studs did. one could say he created the fieldf oral history. >> you decide to do this book, do you immediately think of harvey? >> yes. a little bit because i had already begun working with harvey. we working on a book of
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students for democratic society together. suddenly it hit me. maybe in the middle of the night as these things do, awakening moment at 2:00 a.m., that harvey, in many case, was a studs terkel of a different generation, a, by virtue of spending 36 years in the va hospital as a file clerk in cleveland, had grasped one of the key points that comes up in working at least it is key to me. that is, blue-collar and white-collar life in the, before the, 1970s, before the 1980s, perhaps was very frequently like my father's life as a civil servant. it was really boring but you never took your work home with you at night. people would say that was a good job. i don't say the world is a better or worse place in that respect now but it is a very, very different place. >>eah. i was a civil servant and you know, i was happy to get the job. talking about, the other
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thing i wanted to say about stud being mechanilly ept, that is one reason that i like him so much because i never learned how to ride a bike. i can't type. let alone use the computer. any of that stuff. it is just like, don't see how people can do that. >> do you drive? >> god love this guy. god love you. >> you know, when i rea that, i it is a wm feeling. >> there is lot of, sorry, there is lot of editing to collect which ones you might want. i'm thinking that, paul, you initially culled these down or was it collaborative thing witharvey? >> wonderful question. it is a wonderful question. there are some artists want to script their own work and said so from the beginning. a great example is sabrina jones. a fabulous artist who intuitively went to the story and dealt with it in a way that seems utterly remarkable to me and brings
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it to life. there are other artists who got this into their minds, one certain thing they wanted and couldn't do anything else. a wonderful example, another wonderful example would be peter cooper who done, spy vs spy pages of "mad" magazine for 20 years. very radical guy. quite naturally he wanted to do the labor organizer. in many other cases though it was harvey who decided that these are particular stories that came to life in a remarkable sort of way, and the artists were very excited about working with harvey. manyomic artists in the u.s. and elsewhere really want to work with what are very. and so, together, but harvey more than me, we selected the ones that were, quote, unquote, workable. and it was as practicing mat tig as that and unpolitical or unidealogic or whatever
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that. i'm perfectly convinced a another selection could have been made from working that was none of these people and all different pple and it also would have been fabulous. >> yeah, i think everything, in working could have, you know, was, could have been just, somebody could have done an excellent job on it. they're all fine pieces. >> it strikes me reading this, many of the jobs here don't exist anymore. rat houser. supermarket box boy. that job isone. >> not in cleveland. [laughter] >> much better supermarkets than we do in chicago. others, there is a certain touching quality to that. and, sad. >> well, did you see the guy
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who was predictinghe end of, like shoe manufacturing in -- >> in the u.s. anyway. >> yes. >> well-known chicago unionist. >> i know it is true and people with computers believe it to be true, people value a lot what dhey do with their work, the skill they put into their work. i was thinkin about this barber when i had my haircut the other day by 80-year-old guy in madison, wisconsin. and yeah, has he, for, almost 60 years thought he was really good at cutting hair and been proud of cutting hair? absolutely. has that question been posed to him in that way by anybody other than saying gee, that's nice? probably never. and i think that's another fabulous thing that studs did was to value that kind of, i wouldn't call it thankless b value that
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kind of unacknowledged skill at jobs of all levels, many of which, as you point out, have now dappeared, and in that way, for readers, of studs' become, allow them to value their own job, whether they were the same jobs o similar jobs. one of the most problemat ones in a way for an artist, by artist named nick torkelson, wonderful artist was the garbage man. because the garbage manage n in effect works job devalued by everybody. his children are ashamed of him doing it. on the other hand he knows it is a done, it is a social service and personally not ashamed. it was fabulous for studs to do it. it was a problem, a problem that was solved for an artist to translate that into pictures. >> i want to read something. for those of you who may not, for tse working on a shelf, i go back to working all the
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time, specific thing. salesman, i reread it every five months. in the introduction, original introduction i'm not going to read much, this book being about wor is by its very nature violence to the spirit as well as to the body. jumping ahead a couple of paragraphs, think about this, it is about a search too, for daily meaning as well as daily bread. for recognition as well as cash. for as astonishment, rather than torper. in short for a sort of life rather than a monday through friday sort of dying. perhaps immortality too is part o the quest. to be remembered was the sh, spoken and unspoken of heroes and her wins in this book. that is amazing take on life. i don't ce if you work for microsoft or a still a garbage man, that wl
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resonate with me and wil ever resonate with m harvey that is amazing observation about what all of us do. i don't car how good your job is. i don't care how cool your job is. >> everybody contributes something. >> yeah. >> and some people get credit and some people don't. probably mainly because of the income disparities and stuff. hey, i wanted to tell you a story i read, there was a chicago sportswriter, i forget his name, but his stuff used to be printed in cleveland papers too. he was, he taked about, he said he just got mugged this one time and, you know, it was pretty unpleasant experience. he said now, if it would have been studs terkel and the guy had tried to mug him, he would he probably whipped out his tape recorder and tried to interview him [laughing] >> tell about stu gotburg galled after ida had died
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and studs was burgled. he invites the burglar in. i've got $8 all i got. why do you want to rob anybody? they put the, a sign on the door after this happened that would is scared nobody. it is like, dog inside. or sometng. >> there's a dog bowl --. >> fake dog bowl outside. >> never any water and there is this grass growing out of it. you never know. but remember he always used say i've been a victim taf hostile teover. >> i think you sense in this book, seeing it brought to life in this kind of graphic way, tells me, and i know you know this, paul, liz, d i think you too, harvey. he was as engaged with life, meaning life and other people as any human being i've ever met into his 90s.
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up until, hours before he died. i want to know from all three of you, what kind of man miracle is that? stud has ever been an inspiration to me a liz too because we knew him. i feel guilt, like a watching a tv show and not listening to miles davis or reing a new book or something. it is a force of nature. liz? >> i know. i just, he just had this capacity, in fact, and it is just completely informed me. we were at this sort of fancy dinner last night raising money for the schools, harold washington award sort of kicks off the book fair, and, dave eggars is the winner of the award and we're sting at this dinner and dave eggasr, done so much with his reading and tutoring centers throughout the nation, and done so much
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for publishing for writers and, kids, and i said, how di you get that way? and i heard myself, i remembered so vividly, that i had been sitting a studs' house with edgar, doctorow and studs and doctorw was talking about his own life and studs said, how did you get that way? >> right. >> and, doctorow with, said, nobody's really asked me that. and i realized, you know studs has given me this gift to kind internalize his world view. >> dave eggars is the smartest human being he ever met. >> my table mates thought, this woman is off her rocker. >> intellectuals and book
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writers and so forth which this conference is writely famous, and, rightly famous have one big vice in my opinion. that is, we tend to look past people. we're thinking about ideas. i think this is more a male vice than a female vice in generalut we tend to look past people because we are trying to get some kind of abstraction about them or fit the abstraction into them and vice versa. whereas, in my view, going back to my years and years of teaching but also doing oral histories, the real trick is to lk straight into people and see them for what they are and take them for what they are, and draw them out. i mean this is really a perfectly obvious sort of thing. and yet, to be able to manage that level of concentration, effortlessly, seemingly effortlessly throughout an extremely long lifetime in studs' case,
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requires that very deep egalitarian or socialistic ntalit that never slips into the usual didactism laying it on heavy with people and all the other things intellectuals are mistakenly doing. but to that i want to add since i started reading "american splendor" comics in the middle 1970s which were largely about, harvey being on street corners in cleveland or with other perfectly ordinary people who would ever be confud with intellectuals with any kind or successful in any way with the exception of robert crum, it has the same feeling. >> yeah, yeah. >> and i think, if the borke works the probably main reason it works also because the artists, themselves, have ts wonderful deep and intuitive feeling and, stopped stopped drawing for 15 years because the market
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for certain kind of feminist radical comics, looking back at history, pretty much disappeared by the middle 1980s. the phase that came out of the underground comics world, the underground newspapers of the '60s and '70s was gone, and that spark disappeared for a who lot of artists who simply stopped drawing. but, sharon rule, found the subjects. she did a book, i edited on the life of emma goldman which is utterly fabulous. the work in her she has done, jaws so deeply on the lives after jockey or houseworker or baby nurse or farmers and stone accounters and, she real -- stone cutters she really touches something, graphic novelists who were basically ftion novelist the in pictures, does it
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from making pictures of people's life. but also very much being psychologically in tune with exactly what studs had in mind and i sure do hope that the book is successful enough for us to do some more studs terkel comics because i would aspire to do that more almost anything i can think of as a comics editor. >> can i, i just want to make this point. there's a guy who's one of my favorite writers and who inuenced me and who anticipated studs terkel, and he is a guy from chicago -- yeah, his name is george ade. >> sure. >> you know, like he was from indiana, from an agcultural area. he wt to purdue and came to chicago in the 18 '90s and got a job with the the chicago record. at that time the colombian national exhibition was, or
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exposition, was, taking place and, they sent him out. they just sent him out on the street to just, interview. he could do anything he wanted. so he would just interview all these different kinds of people, and, it was just great. i mean, you know, he interviewed the same kind of people that studs did. >> you're right. he collaborated with the tribune's, when they were both at "the daily news" with the "almost famous" mouse illustrator. john ma such chin. famous for the indian summer there is show at chicago cultural center as we speak of ma kutchin owe wor he and george ade wrote a column, stories of the streets and sidewalks. there are panels up there of this. there are two up there, i don't care how old you are,
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i don't care how old these things look, they're two of the finest stories. one's a amazing seeing a kid on a, you know, sort of a outside a window, standing outside a window on the ledge of window behind and how ade runs up to try to save the kid and in panic and he goes to the mother and goes, you're child is out there. i know. is she out there again? is she out there again? she had done it 15 times. so she was attached to a rope that was, and she pulls the rope and in comes the kid. but it is a brilliant drawing too. and a great story. you got to get over and see this show. harvey, thanks for reminding me. they only did this, it was so popular, weekly. in those days it could hav been a dailily. for i think two or three or maybe four years they collected them in books at the end of the year and gave them, this is what newspapers use to do, gave them to their subscribers. i'm so glad you brought this up because that is
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absolutely true. >> and now it continues in another generation because rick has a column -- >> i wouldn't go -- that is flattering. >> it is. and it is called,idewalks. but it is a collaboration with a photographer. >> because i think what all of us are saying, that, that there is no such thing, and studs would tell you there is no such thing a an ordinary person. every single person in this room is extraordinary somehow. i don't care how, i don't know how, i don't know all of you but in conversation if you're willing to listen and, as, paul says, not look around, or through or behind people, you'll get it. and it's there every day. harvey, i know you know this. i mean it's your work. it's been your life work. >> i go around looking for this stuff. >> yeah. >> and, yet, if you read the, pages of theost prestigious review columns, by and large, and, look at the novels, or even the
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histories, they tend tbe about great white men, number one and number two, they deal very little with the lives of ordinary people of any kind whatsoever. so, although in my own lifetime, the '60s gave a big push towards a different way of history, the thing aboutral history is, oral historians themselves were in the streets. oral history was hardly even a profession and, mainly was the practice of places like the harry truman library whe they interviewed people and erased all the tapes so nobody would find out anything that was supposed to be known. that was the vision of oral history. and but oral historians forming the profession, such as it is in the '60s and '70s were mainly community activists o kind or another, or oddballs who wanted to document a community that was disappearingnder some kind of pressure or other. so, they made a dent. we made a dent.
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but, not such a big dent. and we always come up against the formidable problem, that the people who are in charge of society aren't all that interested in the lives of ordinary people. we're not influential enough. >> do you worry -- >> yes i would say that. >> you said a couple times, you mentioned, the book doing well or if the book does well enough. what is well enough? and what do you need this book, what kind of zeitgeist does this have to catch in order for you -- >> that's really good question. as we speak probably linda barry's panel has finished up. and, if i were there, i would have asked a question i often ask. why is it it is that the number of women writers and artists of comic ins has grown very fast, and the number of women readers as mic ins has followed much more slowly? that is a particular example. but there is a larger case,
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which is in general, people of any kind over 50 are uncomfortable with buying books of comics. i would say until, five years ago, any review of comics, and there weren't many in "the new york times", new yk review would have a last paragraph which apologized from the reviewer having a guilty pleasure reviewing a comic book. they were embarrassing. they were reviewed in the 1950s threat of juvenile delinquency and there were congressional hearings just like congressional hearings on communists also thought of as the worse than telesion. appeeshs of television made movies seem not so horrible. appearance of comic books made television not seem so horrible. comics are the worst of the bottom of worst and very slow climb towd respectability which hardl went anywhere with really no holds par, nothing censored underground comic ins of
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'60s and '70s. perhaps began a climb up in the u.s. very slowly in the 1990s with argue special gelman's mouse. and, since 2001, perhaps, larg growing sensibility that comic art is a real form of art and can be taken seriously as a form of art. nevertheless, there's a, "new york times" list of graphic books, which, now appears,est sellers, which appeared only for two months, first time ever, the beats, metimes is at the bottom of that list. but the rest of list is entirely batman or the watch man. the in other words, the non-fiction category of comics is prey darn small and too much is by harvey and myself. so, we're very much hoping that, this kind of come nick
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will be a -- comic will be a gateway drug for young people to gohead and read the books. but also that the art which is made by comic artists will be taken seriously as a form of art and understood as such and appreciated as such. it mayvercome the great difficulty, these books are expensive to price because you have to pay artists. writers don't have to be paid especially well-known if they teach someplace and generally aren't paid. artists need to be paid. secondly these books don't cost so much because they cat have heavier price than someone under 25 is ing to pay. these are serious disadvantages. at least in terms of wt critics are beginning to say, we seem to be going someplace. >> i think that, especially younger readers are enthusiastic for graphic novels and, and they have, sort of gained a sort of cultural and critical
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legitimacy. this allison bectel book. >> wonderful book. >> it was a national book critic as circle finalist. >> yeah. >> persfulus. >> run out of the list pretty soon. unfortunately. it is a short list. >> but, people are reading them. >> that certainly was true. >> this book is also only . i will flip through the front. you're getting. that seems unbelievably reasonable to me. we got, we open this up for questions. >> please. >> they a meant to be questions, not, first comic book you ever read. no. you ask, you sit up there, m telling you man, sit up there for five minutes last time. yes. i'm sorry. to the microphone. i appreciate you were great last time but you can't monopolize the microphone. >> okay. >> i was hoping some or all of you would comment on the difference between the way
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that a book like this book, portrays non-fiction versus the way that perhaps our culture is becoming obsessed with reality through reality television. >> that is wonderful question. >> i think this is much more honorable and respectful way. >> it is not reali. they call it reality television. when people go out on these ridiculous, races around the world with, what does have to do with -- [laughter] reality. i mean they just, i don't know where they get that from. i mean, they, showeople, getting mad at each other and yelling at each other all the time. and you know, like, conflict all the time. u know, i mean reality is, just, you know, going home and eating supper or somethingike that. [laughter] >> yes, ma'am? >> more "american splendor" complaining about the cleveland indians.
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>> hi. sir, you had made a quote that you said there is no such thing as an ordinary person. however within the books you highlight people's ordinary lives with >> how do you define an ordinary life? >> exactly. kind of segue to her question also is like if there is no such thing as an ordinary pern, what do you gauge as extraordinary or ordinary? and then on top of that, two parts. sorry. doithdr of you harvey or paul, feel that you're in a way row man sizing working class as far as turning it into, this is how, it should be looked at instead of, harvey, eating dinner is the reality of the job? >> i think that, you know, what i'd like to do, i'm not trying t put so-called, ordinary people ahead of so-called extraordinary people. but i just want, i would like to see them, you know, get, raised to the same
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level. because everybody is, there are all kinds of essenti jobs that do in society and, you know, very few people get credit for doing these jobs. u know. so, that's -- >> you should never mistake celebrated with extraordinary either. i'm not, i don't know how good a singer britney spears is. she may be a great sin but, i saw paris hilton on david letterman last night, oh, you're extraordinary. for what? for what? i think it is also very subjective too, the whole view. don't mistake sell operate. i think t often we miske celebrated for ex-trord neyry that is -- exaordinary that is unfair to all concerned. paul what do you think. >> i guess i would say if you go through the book and read carefly, any number of people you could say, why don't they drop that job and go to another job? why do they stay with the miserable b?
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there is no easy answer to that. there is also some business executives and, others tt are by no means favorably treated in their own words. you know, the actually think very highly of themselves but the reader doesn't think they do very much with their hands, coming to his or her own conclusion from it. studs was taking it straight on. >> yeah. >> you never have the sense of studs talking down or engaging in false uplifting. and i'm hoping not to have done that through my editing process and i don't think harvey did that either. there is an inclination toward those underrepresented, and this comes from my '60s social history world, to discover the lives of, latino farmworkers nobody has been willing to talk about bore or dozens of other cases, so-called hillbillies from after latch cha, who -- appalachia, who aren't thought thought to it be articulate though they
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appear as horrible murderers or drunks or whater the usual portrait to let them speak for themselves. that may be a form of romantickization. it is possible. to hear voices out, not hear through some other means or interpreted by us is a victory for order -- ordina life and perception of ordinary way is far more democratic than most literal ture. >> well-put. more questions? >> harvey and paul y've guys don three books in last couple years. including the sds book. i'm wondering what you are working on now? other than, being at events like this? >> he wishes me to speak. ydah. which is very curious since i'm theditor and the real speaker. we've been starting work on a book called, yiddish land.
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and, i'm a gentile from down state illinois and i just stumbled into yiddish oral history. i interviewed octgenarians and native yiddish speakers and they adopted me as a grandchild and i was eager to adopt them as grandparents and i fell into yiddish poetry and so forth. for harvey, his first language was yiddish. so what is the story that 800 qears? that, is not entirely gon but which has enormous richness and also had a huge impact on american popular culture, this is rarely recognize. that is number one. number two, harvey has been writing autazz for close to 50 years nd everybody knows how brilliant his writing is. what we want to do after that is do a comic about jazz and various kinds of ways. it is fabulous idea. if only somebody will ofber us some money, we'll do it. >> here, i will offer you
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some. >> oh good. this is precursor version. please, sir. >> thank you. i really want to, honor you guys for bringing this form to something more powerful. i just want to say that i, i learned an awful lot from studs terkel. the thing i learned the best was how to be curious and how to be curious in a way that left spaceor the person i was curious about. and, you know i hop that your book helps us learn that better. thank you. >> yeah. you know, studs was, as, other panelists know him at a closer level, a fabulous personality, you could hardly think of not looking at him when you're in the same room as him. just the idea that you have raised, that, he ceases to be, center of attention by his own determination, and, that the other person has that kind of space, that is really remarkable thing.
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let me connect it with one more matter. frequently there are these breakthroughs in communications, and, during, not so frequently but it has happened four or five times in the last two centuries and most often, there's a period of 10 or 20 years when all kinds of so-called amateurs come in and, like the firsp penny newspapers, or the first radio stations before the radio was taken over by the monopolies o the first days of live television when studs had studs's place on the local television in chicago. to degree web and comics go through each one of these cases. after the beginning phase, then these areas are corporate advertised and formulas are set and people grinding out material that is expected of tm and they don't have much room for creativity. i discovered probably only when i began working on comics again after a long lapse that most people,
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growing u as kids thought comics were written, drawn, and evething else, by the same artist who oft wasn't acknowledged. we learned later inife, it is like an assembly line. that is the way dc and marvel comics are produced. you might ink a write and do something else but hey, just a job to come in and spend your hours in and so on and so forth. we're in that phase with our comics. that is what is exciting abouit. probably because there is so little money int that nody wants toake it ov. there is no indication anybody wants to take it over. but there is enormous amount of, excitement and interests of especially of artists who are under 30. there is so much more on the web, and, harvey can talk abt some of this stuff he is connected with on the web. i'm not th is far larger in volume than anything in, in printed form for obvious financial reasons. but it represents forms of
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expression and especially young people finding forms of expression and creating new forms of art which is l together remarkable and, hopefullyill point a way towards a new way of seeing the connections of art and life. >> this question, basically, it is for harvey and studs, where they gave people a voice that normally didn't have a voice. to preface this, i actually grew up in cleveland, ohio he, when i read "american splendor", i don't see you giving the ordinary person a voice but i actually see you giving whole entire region, a city of clevend a voice. i wonder if you look at in retrospect and hindsight, do you look at "american splendor" and look andee your work giving a voice to larger region or still just the individual person? >> no. well i mean, maybe both.
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i want to. one of my concerns to make people feel better about themselves. not to feel bad about themselves because they don't make as much money as the other guy. cleveland is not that bo live in. [laughter] you they you hear stuff about the cuyahoga river and catching on fire and stuff like that. but, you know, i mean there is nice stuff about it. and you know -- >> i loved it. i grew up there. >> yeah, well, you know, i think it is okay. it is decent and, people are fine. yeah, i have concern, i am actually writing a book, oh, you know, like a graphic novel about the history of cleveland and how, and, also like my life in it, talking about like, you know, great experiences i had like with when i was a little kid and i listened to the 1948 world
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series and they broadcast it. they broadcast it in school over the pa-system. and the indians won. it's been a long time since cleveland's won a championship. [laughter] they just bombed out like, lebron james or no breb lebron james, they didn't make it to the finals the of the nba championship after having the best record in the league. but i mean. >> ladies and gentlemen -- >> i guess you in know about the cubs you know about cleveland. >> thank you. >> great remark. >> ladies and gentlemen, harvey, paul, liz, me, studs, thanks for coming. buy this book. [applause] thanks >> harvey pekar, is author of autobiographical, "american splendor" comic bo series and subject of
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the movie adapt food that work. paul buhle is a senior lecturer in history and american civilization at brown university. this talk was part of the 25th anniversary "chicago tribune" printers row lit fest. for more information visit >> on the first sunday of each month we invite one author to discuss their entire body of work and take your calls. n depth" includes a visit with theuthor to see how and where they write a book. we visited ited author, stanley crouch in his home in lower manhattan. >> we're in the west village, near the hudson river. and i've been living here
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for 20 years. >> wha kind of neighborhood is in this the west village. >> guest: considered a good neighborhood. call middle class or upper middle class. something a bit of distance from the botm. that is to say, that one isn't harassed by loud radio playing. people making noise in the street very often. i mean every now and then you've got some clowns coming down the street making a bit of noise, but it is fairly quiet. so you don't really have to deal with those kind of, external, well irritating external things that many other people in different, lower position in society do. >> host: and this, the room we're in is your office? this is where you work? >> guest: yes, yes, this is my office. i work in here and my wife and i live nextoor in another place. >> host: what's a typical workday like for you i
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here? how do you go about writing? >> guest: i get up every day about 6:00, 6:00, 6:0 i come in here. i read the newspapers, on the internet. then, i start writing something. >> host: the writing is done on this computer here? >> guest: yeah. see whenever i write something, i've written about six or seven versions. if i'm writing a scene in a novel or writing a passage in an essay, i have many different versions of it. so i will fill up these file, it will be file after file, called so-and-so, two, so-and-so three, so-and-so four, whatever it is. when i get to a certain point, i read all of they will, and figure out which one is the best. origin to take things out of different parts. sometimes i'm going along d i will realize that there's a phrase, no more
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more than that, in another file. then i have to go back to the all the files to search out that phrase if i don't remember it. but sometimes, no, no, no, that's not it. it is that, you know, 16 wos somewhere, because you know 16 words can always be very important. >> host: i see a lot of filing cabinets around here that have parker, a through e and parker. what is used, what is contained in those files? >> guest: those files contain all of the interviews from the long-awaited, charlie parker book. long-awaited because i've been working on it forbout 22 years. let's put it like this. i've been known to be wring it for aut 23 years. i haven't been working on it for 22 years. but i'm about two years from coleting it now. i've written over 400 pages.
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i've done many interviews. many of the people who i interviewed are now dead. so ihink it is time for me finally to get the book out there because, many people seem to be interested in it. parker was a remarkable character. he was extraordinarily talented. he helped make an addtics to the aesthetic possibilities of jazz. he didn't advance it. i don't really believe in that idea. i think he added another choiceor players, that you could play or write in the style that he and dizzy gillespie and he and few other people more or less invented. not more or less, they did invent. his story, which is a short one, from 1920 to 1955 crosses the depression and crosses the world war ii. and it ends, shortly after the supreme court decision in the 1954. so, the's a lot that
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happened during his lifetime. >> host: a lot of books in your room here. how do you decide what to keep here and do you use them when you're writing? >> guest: well, these are, these are morer less essentialals but, tre are many books that are stored in books boxes down in the basement. a lot of books about jazz. a lot of books about film, about, painting, about, american culture. about race, i guess, if we want to call it that. say the problems of color. the story of color and the problems of color as they manifest themselves in the united states orn t world at large. >> host: i want to walk the audience through your books so far. because we've gotten a lot of calls about one of them,
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one you cocoa elaborated on. this some 1979-1989 essays, notes of a hanging judge. followed by, "the all-american skin game." long short of it, 1990 to 1994. "always in pursuit." 1995-1997. most current work. novel. "don't the work look lonesome. next up. the stanley crouch will take us on a tour of his bookshelf in his office. >> guest: this book, kenneth clark, "what is a masterpiece? ." i read this often, it is a very important book for me. because he makes it very clear. clark had a very clear understanding of what made the master piece. and how the masterpiece was always connected to the deepest aspts of the
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tradition out of which the artist came, and, to the present in which the art was made. and it is the combination of the past and the present that gives the masrpiece enough energy to carry it into the future. the "the disuniting of america", by arthur sles send ger. -- schlesinger. he puts into context, what our problems are at this particular time idea of multiculturalism and stuff of that sort. now, this book here, "divine days", by leon forrest, is probably the greates afro-american novel since
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"invisible man." flawed masterpiece it is at 1100 pl pages it still has some of the deepest, richest, most well-written passages to have been in american fiction. one, two, three, on the third shelf, next to the webster's, that's shakespear. you know, he, you know, he is the ongoing champ. you know, he understood the species. now, there is of course, en there's the bible. i have got all kind of versions of that. i've got the new oxford. i've got the five books of moses. i've got the comparative study of the bible. i've got the complete dead sea skrols. now, why do i have that? the one thing about the bible is this. you can be sure, almost,
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positive, thatnywhere you open it up, it is firing on you. every now and then you will open it up a you ill will get a long passage of gene eology, he begat --. when you don't get to that, almost anything you stumble into, i mean the writing, the understanding the drama, the intensity, the rythym is there. very few books are like that. the bible is one of them. the only one of them that i know of. you know, you just, you say, i don't know, whoa, whoa. you get in there, something is going on, right? ellison of course, towers over many of us in many ways. for the creation of "invisible man." very extraordinary book, what a book. we have all of ellison's stuff. everything he did.
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juneteen, no good. invisible man, invisible man. excerpt from ellison. to my original copy of the "shadow and act." another "invisible man" which i'm proud of i think ellison, autographed both of these. now, here, is, a flawed masterpiece by phillip roth. a writer of stunning gifts. i mean, it is flawed only because it seems to me that he didn't really follow the obvious elements of race included that were involved, that were more than peripheral to this story. these markers are here so i don't have to rd the book again. that's why i don't have to read it again. so really certa t


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