tv 2015 Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest Sunday CSPAN June 8, 2015 3:00am-6:01am EDT
chris kyle recounting hoar her life after her husband's death. and in the road to character, david brooks looks at the live of ten individuals as examples to achieve success. and the inventor of tesla and paypal. and tom broke caw discusses his personal battle with cancer in a lucky life interrupted. and that is a look at the current non-fiction best sellers according to the chicago tribune. >> here is a look at recent books featured on booktv's afterwards. one recent guest was april ryan whitehouse correspondent for the urban radio networks discussing
her life and career. and we spoke with mike huckabee. he talked about politics and culture. wes moore was here for his book the work sharing the quest to find meaning in his life. and booktv talked about his book, gateway to freedom, detailing the history of the underground rail road. and cornel west talked about his book the radical king a collection of speeches by martin luther king junior. and tax reform was the discussion from the book end the irs before it ends us. and appearing recently was the author of be safe love mom talking about being a mother to four military officers serving in a war zone. and we looked at the life of the
first lady through childhood up to the whitehouse. afterwards airs every saturday at 10 p.m. and sunday at 9 p.m. you can watch all episodes on our website. >> you are watching booktv on c-span2. live coverage of the chicago tribune printers row lit fest held every year in downtown chicago. scott simon is the next author. he will be talking about his book. ...
subscription to the printers row journal, the premium book section. you can also download that the trip books out for more information on that fast and for access to the digital bookstore. lastly, we encourage everyone to take photographs and upload messages to facebook, twitter, and as to grant using the hashtag puerto rico ls 15.
with that i will throws it over to: mcmahon for the introduction, associate editor of the chicago tribune. [applause] >> thank you. thanks to everyone for coming today. thank you for braving the weather and coming to let fast. happy to have this every year and happy that you came today it is my pleasure to introduce scott simon. scott is one of those rare people that does not live in chicago does not spend all his time in chicago but feels like a chicago icon. i think it is partly because of the way that scott work chicago into the books he writes i think there is more about it like the chicago sensibility of us got. think it is okay that we can
claim them as our own even though he is working elsewhere, living elsewhere. he is still chicago that. scott is a host of weekend edition saturday morning on npr. he has won numerous awards including an emmy and a peabody command he has written a half-dozen books among them when the city, political novel and this latest book unforgettable a son, a mother, and the lessons a lifetime. this book is about scott's mother and his relationship with his mother and the woman's name, i love this.in the book patricia lyons simon newman galvin. and sorry for and sorry for going to step on one of your lines, but his mother said this was a railroad train the name.
there are three marriages. right. everyone knew her as pat command that's the way this the scott introduces mother to me the one and only time that i got a chance to meet scott's mother but it was a brief time and even in that brief time of watching her and of watching scott's relationship with his mother you could sense, i could sense this profound respect and profound sense of gratitude the scott held toward his mother. you can also get pretty quickly as sense of the kind of woman that that was. and, you know, we did not spend a lot of time together one evening, but in that time she was able to very quickly make you feel comfortable even make you feel like there was some devilish conspiracy going on guess what she was making you a part of it.
and that glimpse that i got of her in and i glanced that i got of scott's relationship with her and this book becomes is wonderful, vivid, moving panoramas. and here to talk about the book scott simon. [applause] >> well, it's good to be home. the greatest city in the world and not only -- [applause] i don't know how it is over the years i children think that they are from chicago at this time. my wife, who is french command you would think of course she is proud of that, but she thinks she's from chicago. it's absolutely amazing. thank you for inviting me and can't particularly for what he said about my mother
i think it summarizes are very well. before i begin i can't tell you what it's like to come back here and have a book a book with your mother's picture on the cover is on the new york times bestseller list. thank you. [applause] thank you. by the way, can't held at the cover. i have the australian addition here which wisely does not feature my picture. the small boy is on the cover that's not me. the publisher has to you know, move the fray after all. they photoshop the picture of an 11 -year-old model as an australian kid. it's pretty good-looking. let me begin with the section from the almost beginning. a tweet that i sent out. i children want to know if you are dead forever. i told him yes. i wonder about that, too.
death makes life worthwhile. gives each moment meaning. i hope i live to 150150 and that our daughters can make it to at least 200 but death drives life. frightens inspires us. do away with definitely have a reason to get out of bed are into it grow work, or love. why would we do much of anything if we had the time for everything? if the certainty of death that moves us to sing and write poems, find friends and sale across oceans and skies. it it is because we know that we don't have all the time of the world that we try to use the uncertain and a noble time we have to do something that endures. death is sad graham, unwelcome, and invaluable but it is why we try to make something of life. it is why we have children. a couple of summers ago when i came here to the intensive care unit of the hospital on the near north side to join
the mother i did not know that she would wind up buying their. city four years old. she had health challenges. it was at that time in life are we knew that everything obviously had to be taken seriously. i determined after that 1st night that i was going to join her in the isu. that 1st night the recliner did not recline. apparently they have apparently they had been lawyered up a lot of runs because somebody once leaned back a little too far. they had pillows and blankets. i was passing this very outdoors store on north michigan avenue and i decided they have mattresses so it gives you some idea of my relationship with the outdoors. i walked into the store and said to the measurement look, i look, i don't know anything about the outdoors except to love them. without missing without missing a beat he said, well perhaps i should
direct you to bloomingdale's, sir. and i said you know, you're much too funny to be working in outdoor store and he said, well a said well a matter of fact i do a little m problem aside. so i took up shop next my mother. we talked about life and we talked about death and the hereafter suddenly became a very real place. it was no longer hypothetical. it was the next up ahead, as it is for all of us. as this book came out i did a peace the new york times asked about why perhaps i thought that the tweets that i had done from the intensive care unit -- refused to use the term went viral, viral, why they had taken flight. i have a lot of unsatisfying half answers. certainly it was the universal story of life and death and in the news business we saw misuse that phrase is a universal experience. but it is. with the exception if you are an abiding christian of
perhaps one person. but even then he was returned to life, come to think of it. in any event it is a truly universal experience. i also think that social media platforms of kind of become the papyrus scrolls of our time where we share bits and pieces of our lives to get past our sometimes ignore. but i kept going back to the fact that the strongest reason was my mother. she was just so funny and interesting. there is a class of school kids in the philippines who began to read the tweet and wrote essays of us over my mother said some of those tweets. listening to la bohème mother can't keep eyes closed. mother can't keep eyes closed. maybe operable help. i always love when i went. here's one that got a lot of play, i consider this a good sign. mother. mother son to the mother says when that time comes
three jewish husbands but no guilt. and then, of course, something she said that turned out to be utterly true, mother says, we can get through this, baby. the hardest part will be for you when it's over. as you may know the reviews have been quite wonderful. i'm not going to be modest enough to quote from any of them, but i will be smart enough to paraphrase. was otto of the "washington post" -- and it will take a great perceptive review to not only make not even the author but especially the author understand what's in the. he understood that the book is also a salute to a time and place in my mother's generation the remembrance of her friends in the near north side of chicago and the somewhat pre-feminist era, there were working
women like my mother and menu in the 60s and 70s the term of art seem to be confirmed bachelors or sometimes simply creative. they were working clubs and shops and dated nice guys in the lot of kansas the meals. perhaps we can séances benchmarks. the hardest part, i think, going all the was to lose them. she got to the.when she cringed when the phone rang let me read you a section, if i could plus my mother's friends who are very important in my life. for years my mother's constant running mate and gal pal was the woman we called auntie chris. she had come to chicago from a great family and i ought both named priscilla and possess the kind of silhouette are teachers and gentlemen used to call classical.
her aphrodite for help her find work as a hostess and dancer and clubs along west street, in which she 1st a town where she met my mother and she said bundles of big toothed tussle heard kennedy boys sitting with chicago mobsters. by by the way, i happened to read this section the other night in connecticut. how how pleased i was to meet three members of the kennedy family there. [laughter] hardheaded and droll and outs boca and republican who was suspicious of what she saw as the local barney and thought that my mother whom she loved could be sweetly naïve about men business command democrats. burn their bras she exclaimed standing tall. why would these gals want to burn their bras? my bras my best friend. worked as a secretary at an ad agency. silvery and we all wanted to hear.
when my. one nice someone in the group came back the drugstore with one of the 1st at the machines that sports water to your gums. it filled a small tank press the button and a hard burst of water. the correct were dispute spurred from the nozzle. my mother and her friends filled the tank over and over. they they giggled as augustine drift. they aim to spurts at each other. it doesn't last very long. after refill the tank half a dozen times. i think a couple of the women with cigarettes. waited for the quiet task, and could you also use that on your teeth. i had no idea what she meant auntie auburn, blonde, tall, slim, and walked like a somber.
she may have been the 1st person i knew this i knew who spoke with a british accent. she was about as british as dolly parton. from baton rouge and worked for her posh enunciation as assiduously as actors from the royal shakespeare company. trained playboy bunnies for clubs around the country. she she taught the playboy way to smile, say hello, and deliver drinks with the bunny dip. she disdained and when she dripped distain it was a powerful, toxic stream. the criticism that have been made. uniforms are the correct. uniforms.
-- aim for mary daly. the tribune was much better than the sun-times for that. the online version of the good. do you remember when we had the spring them from jail? highlight of my childhood. one night i will condense the story. they went out to well street for a hamburger. they they were stopped because they turned the wrong way down a one-way street. turned out neither had a driver's licenses. my and because she did not want to be asked that she would be creative and say is that what is going to in this talented the daily you need a special license before you can get a hamburger. they didn't think that was a good idea. they, mother in the middle of the night. we pulled on closes if we heard a fire about and my mother plucked a stack of 20s.
i got to get to tell the driver chicago avenue police station please and step on it the station house is blindingly bright inside. a pretty mother with her son in tow. good morning, captain. we would like to see a couple of your guests. the desk sergeant did not need to consult his blotter. this officer surrounded. someday you'll come along. she sang in smokey does the voice and lb big and strong the man i love. an inspired choice for playstation house.
no arrests, no bail, the mildest reminder from police to stop at stop signs a carrier license for operating a motor vehicle. i am young patrolman told marion sure i'm a cop, but really i want to be a singer she took his hand and brushed it with her lips then follow your dream, darling. i i set my mother's lap in the cab riding back north. the 2nd sergeant we saw sure was handsome. he was married. you checked his his hand. don't you? officers get better uniforms but believe me they all are wind up wearing this funny little golf shirts and saggy slacks. my mother leaned by my ear to tell me i don't want you to think the jail is always this much fun. what i remember of that group of women from my boyhood is lingering impromptu evenings with lots of spots of laughs, olives and cheddar cheese on rye crackers for the stroke of matches in the tingle of ice
compact makeup mirrors folded with a snap to my heels in the coffee table, crinkled cocktail napkins with lipstick sponges, earrings pulled out and resting i coaster, tony bennett on this train table and occasional crying jack and the origins of cigarettes. the the orange glow of cigarettes, candles, and streetlights is below the windows. i don't remember or more likely did not recognize profound conversations but knew that the buzz of laughs and gossip was a phase that refilled my mother and her friends. most of most of the women in her circle have been married at least once. a couple would be again. my mother thought one or two might have preferred women, but in those times finding the right man was believed to be therapy for that. single working women have children on their own today. my my mother didn't think most of her friends what i wanted that. instead, these tough, funny command resilient women turn their care and tenderness on
the child in front of the. they love you so my mother said. i love them. i was blessed. my mother's friends and my father for that matter passed onto me a phrase for the kind of man that they did admire classy guy. the accolade had nothing to do with money business, or breeding. banks in my school principal were classy guys. so are at least evenson, nat king cole the man who drove the number 36 bus down state street. a classy i had manners. please and thank you. picked up checks, left good tips, dressed with respect the word, sunflowers apologized personally, tried to be kind and courteous even if they sometimes have the farm. the best jokes were about themselves.
countered in a man's character. a man's character. the past what they learned on the me and dozens of stories. they gave me something to steer toward. my mother's circles of friends also gave me a glimpse of good friendship. friends with the people you call the three am 3:00 a.m. the gets you out of jail but also the people who were with you at 9:00 p.m. on a slow saturday night. friends share crisis am and what was often the trickier test of tedium. my mother's humor and strength sometimes made it hard to see how much of her life had been busted. friendships with rugged, sheikh command appealing women differ otherwise to care about and gave 1st purpose shape, and laughter my mother and i were for 48 hours straight. we talked about her friends in the three marriages. we talked about her love of
our as a working girl. she often ducked into the art institute between jobs. kevin nash at the tribune did the most wonderful feature that highlighted that part of the book and talked about our. my mother my mother said that she just wanted in on a summer day when she was recollecting this in the icu and noticed you could want from room to room or sit. it was like a retake -- like a vacation. van gogh. since this is a literary festival, van gough. i don't want to be corrected afterwards. inside there was tahiti, street in paris ballet dancer in a dressing room rolling on her socks from worship taken them off. we talked about we talked about her old boyfriends or at least as many as we can remember command we talked about her struggle with suicide.
my mother had taken her life and said it puts a fly in her head. you never quite get it out. there are times there are times i describe in the book when she was certainly tempted and at least one occasion gave in to temptation. but it's a testament to my mother's endurance encourage that she lived to the age of 84 i lived up until the last possible minute. let me check. i have a section in the book where there is a man in chicago. my mother's best bit of entertaining command man in chicago. some of you might remember the name. and he ran for everything on the ballot. because he had the last thing daily in chicago he would just get enough votes from people who were confused at the might be some family relation that he would go on and do it again.
he wore in uncle sam hat. and he actually became the subject of a supreme court case. because he won that case i believe he had to be on the tonight show the same length of time that richard nixon and john f. kennedy were on the show. i was putting i was putting out what we used to call an underground newspaper very similar. except they cannot begin until we finish our class. the democrats and republicans if i might refer to the republicans a local joke. the temperance party didn't.
the national yoga party. we want getting responses from anyone except america 1st daily. he came over to her apartment on the north side. i want to describe that. there's good depiction of my mother. something that i hope journalists don't forget. why an old gray suit yes. nice to see your pretty face i forget what questions we asked. several later into real board allies. public schools are a mess to
were three of these he year. i keep stuff like this in here kind of like an office so i can keep both hands free to meet people. lincoln kept his office in his head, to. people after them trying to be a lawyer, no education, the squeaky voice, long legs our editorial board have been in session for more than an hour. picked up his hat and began to make his goodbyes. goodbyes. my mother said i no you must have a campaign appearance to make. please don't run off until we have given you a drink. he did have one, scotch and
then one more for the road. my mother brought out peanuts in some kind of cheese. you know, i ran a burst pool company. business is okay. the glory days back when i was young in the 30s they could not sit at desks. they stood on tools. i tell the cops give me an address and i'll give you a $0.50 restore. the books would reopen. get the business flowing. let me tell let me tell you. the 2nd scotch seemed to make his eyes a little watery. but i guess the glory days are always when you were young. you are so right. i get six kids all grown. i no people make jokes about me.
i worry about them getting hurt. your dad that crazy guy in the uncle sam suit. i tell my kids and i'm going to tell your voice your what you have to do what you believe in. they all after christopher columbus, but he sure but on the gold. i said to my mother you are the soul of the gracious that day. he was a guest at our home she said. i'm not sure i'd want him to be present or even president or even dogcatcher, but he sure dedicated his life didn't it back you saw that it's over. i was trying to be sophisticated and senegal. i just saw the crackpot. you are gracious. want to leave time for some of your questions. i believe they have books on sale.
i no we're coming up on the summer holidays. nothing says happy graduation for happy fourth of july or happy bastille day has effectively is a copy of unforgettable. i hope i have made plain that there is low sex this book. but also adultery life that, and some -- well mother had a real life. you know with all the attention the book has been getting you inevitably reflect she was not a boast, not a kennedy. she was not even a kardashian. by the way i should add i get to talk about the book at the library and the jfk library. i can look forward to the kardashian library. and my mother was not a hollywood star but she was gorgeous and charming and relentlessly honest a true
star to the very end. and i want to leave you with this. my mother had a grand memory for family stories. we stories. we have a cousin here in the audience afternoon. and for jokes and all movies but in many ways are great gift is for forgetting she forgot all slights insults and outrageous. she tried to leave behind a lot of slights, insults, and outrageous and herds and mistakes. she was the only child of parents who often could not be bothered. she loved and married a man my father, who drank himself into a nosedive. she lost her daughter her mother took her life when she did her most command that she had to take her son out of that marriage before her husband made them all crash. she married a wonderful man here in chicago who wound up getting convicted of a federal crime.
my mother's heart was shaken and broken a thousand times. she often felt lonely and abandoned and looked over the edge. but a lot of people would have used any one of those events if it had happened to them to immobilize the lives and paralyze themselves and put themselves in the therapy for the rest of their lives and say i can't go on until i worked this out until i reconcile this with everything else. my mother kept on going. she lived through a lot and she left behind. thank you. [applause] >> you know, i had a section i was going to read for c-span containing a highly profane phase. our people have later. other any questions? we want them to come to the microphone.
i could not have been that complete. why don't you ask a question. is the organizer of this event. getting started. i can also repeated from here. >> my question is an audible how do you remember? >> well, how do i remember all the stories? this is what my mother talked about. we talked about this. sometimes we would relive the stories more or less word by word. sometimes has a thing guessing the book a mother and i could be like old comics only have to whisper the punchline to each other. so i think it was a combination of that. my mother would say something like do you remember girl a man with
him she went out. he was an old lounge singer. a lot of rural stories with a tumble through both of our minds. other occasions why don't mind saying the sheer pleasure of hearing the story from her once again targeted at talladega. it was a combination of those things. i will try and repeat the question. yes,. >> what you are doing after that began. >> you mean after a began to work in media? you know, i think my mother was proud. when my mother said i'm probably have become that was a part of it. i think it gave my mother some pleasure when people would say, say you know at
some.she became scott simon's mother. but you know what command most wasted and carol. i mean,, there's a man named mark shulman in town. our families go back a long way. my mother didn't want to see anyone in the icu. marco come by with cheesecake treats for the nurses. please let me see mark. families go back a long way. my 14th birthday she took me to eli stays delicatessen and we had not budget correctly. to make a long story short we had run out of the check. which is you know, a story the shulman's love. marco marie the exemplary dollars. so mark but the cheesecake treats and came in to talk to my mother and they had a wonderful conversation together and then he left of my mother said he worried about kids so much from boys in particular and you boys
turned out just fine. i said, gosh, you know, you can believe what mark is done with his father's old cheesecake recipe. the evensong chicago cheesecake in new york. my mother said, i don't mean any of that. i mean the way you both have such beautiful families that is what was important to her. she was proud of what i did but on some other level couldn't care less. >> read the book. >> my daughters are 12 and eight and have not. yeah. my daughters are 12 and eight and have not read the book, but i think the big reason i wrote the book is because they are 12 and eight. it will mostly grow up without the grandmother. and it is very nice for them to be able to reach onto a shelf or hit a a button on their ipads and to be able to read about the grandmother. and we have had them on a good portion of the book tour.
and it is nice to see how people react. but i certainly hope some of the language i use that they haven't. i'm sure. let me -- yes ma'am. [inaudible question] >> any conflicts. what do we say nowadays? is the pope and argentine? [laughter] i mean, i mean of course. i describe some of them. looking back on them they were astonishingly, you know, innocent. as it is not quite the word i mean, but in any event they did not amount to much. it did not dislocate our affection for each other. sure. i have a section where i talk about my mother loves to entertain in a one-bedroom apartment on the north side and believed in them cards. and here me through on this because she said that was a
way of telling people that you are expecting them you are ready. avoided this kind of awkward so place cards. under one time some of you might remember i was once state student council president of illinois and my mother threw a party for people who helped me the reason these include people from the black panther party we all had heard and/or knees. and the bell rang and i looked at the table she had set for about a dozen people and she had place cards. mother, you can have place cards. the table below is to the people. it's just another word for sitting wherever you want. you can have place cards. my mother began to cry. i felt terrible and i kissed her and said all right. i'm sorry. first to people were george and alfred. george, who i believe is now a bank officer was head of our high school black panther party.
and he came in, god bless them to watch over the table and said all right. alfred. the actual guests were not thrown by it. so yes of course, we had some of those distances. looking back on them in her last days there were mostly for, purposes. yes, ma'am. cedar street. one of my aunts lived there. >> yes. >> well, yes. the question is question is talking about cedar street. it's all co-ops i should think. >> myself, about. [inaudible]
the book. [inaudible question] [inaudible question] >> let me try and begin to rephrase this with the c-span audience. a nice will last if i should write a book about rush street in chicago in a certain time because it really was a certain separate part of america and society you know, that had a lot of grace notes to it. and i don't think i will write anything like that directly but as was noted chicago gets and everything i write. so it sometime maybe. i would not rule that out but i don't think i want to do a specific book about it. yes, sir.
[inaudible question] >> did i find the writing process difficult? i think writing a note to our daughters sixth-grade teacher is difficult. i think most people who do it for a living will tell you is difficult. sometimes difficult. sometimes i run the people who say i just read as a hobby for fun. i say to myself, well i no whose name isn't going to be in the book covering times in. maybe you have person officer this weekend who will say i just read for fun. no. no. writing a book is fun. that being that being said, it was a very nice way of holding my mother close and keeping her in our thoughts as i must say this book tour has been. but as my mother has said, the hard part will be when that's over as at some time it will be. but i think i no
i say this in the book and have set in a couple interviews. you also come to grips with the fact that we don't really grow up until we lose her parents. there is some combination. there are lessons that some combination of grief and responsibility to just that only that loss contagious. and i think our mothers and our fathers, to be sure the poor everything they are into us and they stand us up on their own and that sometime they are pretty happy to sit back and see how we do. and i think that's the.where we are now. i don't know how we are doing for time. anymore. yes, ma'am. did you ask did you ask a question already? zero, all right. sorry.
[inaudible question] >> i thought about this. my father was a comedian. and when i say anything that is ostensibly funny people say, zero, that's your dad talking. but i think a lot of people jim gaffigan, the great can, can i have talked about this. comedians are not funny. they don't give away. and they also tend to have, you know have, you know, a tragic aspect. so they are funny and effervescent person or family was my mother. you know there is no formal process, process, but she was the one that people always wanted to tell stories. my father loved to tell the story. years ago he was an article for the tribune someone said, what is it like? and this was during the best
days of my father's career before the drinking became uncontrollable said to my mother, what's it like to be married to the funniest man in chicago. my mother said, i would know [laughter] and my father loved that. you know she was never anything less than a star. yes, sir. thank you for using the microphone. >> do you have any other books waiting to be written? >> zero, yes. oh, i don't have to repeat your question. yes, i always working on two or three in my mind. another novel. i don't want to talk them out of the yes. i always work on something. has my family will tell you i mean, my wife is french and we are set to spend some
time in france this summer, which is wonderful. i am not bringing along a laptop because i'm not under deadline for a book. i am bringing along humor. >> yes. hi. i love your show. my parents are still living and i have thought about -- i am a writer and i have thought about writing about them. i always wondered, are there things not to say? other things that you held back? other things that you did not want other people to know about? >> i did not -- look i talk about suicide. i. i talk about adultery. i didn't hold anything back for those reasons. there is stuff you just hold back as part of the editorial process is you don't put 84 years of life and a 250 pages of some might that. so i -- there is nothing i held back for reasons of delicacy. for a couple of reasons. i think my mother is quite beyond that. but for another you know,
you know, even in a difficult passages she's always the fear of the story and i also think particularly in her last days in the icu you realize how things that you thought were mortifying and for that matter tragic really aren't in the large scheme of things. it's just life and if you have a full and rich life and my mother certainly did, that we will happen. so there was nothing held back for those reasons. probably not helpful for you >> yes, it is. >> somebody else want to use the microphone. >> thank you. you have written fiction and the more. how is your mother in the character different from a fictional character? >> oh, you know, my mother interestingly, i think, has made it into a couple of my novels as a character one
way or another. if you take a look at the novel i did about family during the seizure of sarajevo you will see a little bit of my mother. i think if you read political comedy i wrote called windy city. you will see my mother and a couple of characters. you know, i would have to reflect on that. i used to roll my eyes about was soon say well, the characters begin to talk you when i interviewed them i would say you want to see someone about that every maybe they should but the.is i think characters do begin to speak with you. if there was a pleasurable aspect it was being reunited they have a the help of the capture a sense of her and
become aware of the fact that the continuing dialogue -- she said to me in the hospital she said we will this go on forever? and i said no. by that she met the pain and the dread. she said that you and me will go on forever. and i said yes. and i think writing this book confirmed that for me. there is some level of conversation that will not only persist for the rest of my life but in some ways it is a kind of -- it is a sense of humor a form of reflection, and attitude that will get into my conversations with our daughters and they will carry and pass it on their families.
[inaudible question] >> out of my mother's feel that dying in the icu? nothing else is on offer. they could not move or because they thought that -- i had a scheme. everyone is to finish up. i said the people because i couldn't -- a mother didn't go to the hospital thinking that she would wind up dying there. i call my wife one night and said i can't stand. she loves the city so much and i can't stand the thought of her never seeing again. if you take a look at the wonderful animation you will see the windows part at one point on the hospital review. the movie view of chicago with the hancock building. that was not the view from her hospital. it was in a four parking garage. i said to my can't stand the thought.
just let me put her in a wheelchair and take her in the street. want to we are already us sherman park. her daughters can be playing on the swings. i just wanted to feel the windy and and look at the city she loves. and you know the dr. said said, well, she is a lot of oxygen. i said, i no what this is about. i give you my word, if she dies there you only have the thanks for family and he said, you know, they have portable oxygen ranks. but alas her health just got to throw for that. we didn't do it. people asked me if i have any questions about end-of-life care, feelings about end-of-life care. no, not really. this is about human life. can we take one more question?
from the lit fest as the room is reset and the next author gets in place. it will take about ten minutes or so. after this break you will hear from author kevin schultz who has just published a book about friendship between norman mailer and william f buckley junior. this is book tv live coverage from chicago. [inaudible conversations] >> a state department requires foreign service officers to be well informed and knowledgeable across many disciplines. here's. here's a look at some of the books recommends to employees. to start paradigm and argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world and guns germs, and steel.
initially. i think i started working in the 1st or 3rd person. and then i realized that the struggle of the text was how to get a reader not to think they already know because i think these are all problems, ancient. and they have stayed with us you know now we can say centuries. and so how do we reenter in the way that allows us to have to interrogate again? and the 2nd person because it meant that the reader had to say this person is doing that and that person is doing that and i perhaps,
see myself standing here. and those people who said they did not see race i don't see race you are a little obsessed by race because i only see human beings begin to say things like, well, that person must be the bad person or that but it must be the brown bunny for that is probably a white guy. and then suddenly race enters the space. and then one has to take a position around whether or not one is capable of holding the actions of one of those people. so that was sort of the thinking. another another part of me love this idea that if you are talking about sort of minorities that you are actually talking about the 2nd person, the position of the other is the 2nd person.
there was that kind of sort of deliciousness around the way that 2nd person meant the use of the word other. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> and you are looking at a live shot from inside the auditorium at jones college prep one of the event sites for this year's printer robust but -- printers row lit fest. not quite ready for the next event yet. this is book tv television for serious readers.
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started i would like to thank our sponsors and thank all of you for coming. today's program is being broadcast live on c-span2 spoke tv. we will leave sometime at the end for audience questions and you can just come on up to the microphone up to the side of the stage so the home viewing audience can hear the question. you can keep the spirit of lit fest going year round with a subscription to the printers row journal. that's the tribune's premium book section fiction series and membership program. also please download the trip took ask for more info on that fast. we encourage everyone to post messages and photos to facebook, instagram and twitter using the hashtag pr al f15. before we begin we ask that you turn off your cell phone ringers and any flashes on your cameras. with that please welcome our
interviewer from today's program jane daly. [applause] >> hi. thank you. i'm jane daly from the university of chicago. i teach american history there and i'm very happy to welcome my colleague from the university of illinois and chicago kevin schultz. kevin is a historian of modern united states in american politics. he wrote at davos book on religion in american politics in the mid-20th century. the book is called tri-faith america how post-war catholics and help america to its protestant promise. the title gives you a hint of how exciting and interesting the book is my urge you all to read it. that was a scholarly book and this book is equally a scholarly book. the difference between a scholarly book and a book that is not a scholarly book i think in the modesty of the author and making them visible all at the incredible archival work that he has done all of the notetaking and the months and months of
questioning and finding sources thinking critically about things. kevin has written a wonderful new book that is just now being published and i believe the hardback copies are out there which i think you should all buy buy. this book is called "buckley and mailer" the difficult friendship that shaped the sixties. it of course deals with the friendship between william buckley and norman mailer a friendship i didn't know existed until i read your book. so i guess i will start out by asking you how did you know this friendship existed? how did you get started on this book collects. >> thank you very much for coming and that generous introduction. this book was so much fun to write because they knew of both of these larger-than-life figures. norman mailer does novelist and one of the inventors of new journalism and somebody who is just a great first-person voice on the 1960s and a huge personality and william f. buckley there was an equally large personality on the right
founder of national review and it never occurred to me that they would be friends. after norman mailer died he sold his papers to the harry ransom center at the university of texas in austin and a couple of those letters got picked up in a magazine and i was leafing through the magazine one night and i read some of the letters. i just stopped cold because i read one of the letters between norman mailer and buckley and there was cutting humor. there was deep inside into what was going on in the 1960s. they were obviously friends and i have been sitting around thinking about what to write our next as far as my next book. in the 1960s i wanted to tell a story from the 1960s and it has become this time in our past that is almost mythologized but not quite. you see madman and some of the movie. people are talking about trying to understand it and i was there
too. i thought by taking a figure on the left and a figure on the right those articulate really smart brilliant voices and investigating their friendship was just a way to tell a great story about the 1960s. as i looked at the archives i looked at the letters and i looked at the debates and i looked at the television shows that they were on together. there are they are debating the cold war. there they are debating the civil rights movement. there they are debating vietnam and their whole friendship takes you on a tour through the major events of the 60s and hear these brilliant articulate funnyman who are trying to figure it out in these gorgeous letters back and forth to each other so i thought that's it that's the book right there. i can tell a story from the 60s being attacked from the left and being attacked on the right it is funny and fun friendship and. >> is surprising to to us these days and it's really kind of sadly indicative of where we are politically that they could be absolute die-hard local
opponents and they both ran for mayor of new york city which was another thing i had forgotten. they founded as you point out they found that there are magazines within weeks of each other. the national review on the side of ugly and the village voice which again i didn't realize norman mailer had a big role in founding that. there were clearly political opponents in the sense that there has been some major questions of the day but they were not enemies. they were friends. that's part of what i think makes for such a compelling story. why did they get along so well? >> came from vastly different worlds as you point out. what was the bond that help their friendship together besides a love of arguing which i think was clearly something they both enjoyed. >> absolutely did of love to argue. a couple of things. he said they came from different backgrounds and that's true to a
point. norman mailer was middle-class jewish boy from brooklyn aspirational family playing stick while in the but 170 iq or 162 iq, just a really brilliant guy. goes to harvard. buckley on the other hand, he's catholic and is pretty staunch catholic buddy lives more or less what he thought of as a quintessentially waspy life. raised in connecticut in a huge mansion with 114 rooms. the house has around called great elm. he yes private tutors flown into educate him. there were six pianos in the house so they were ringing at piano teacher that would go from one kid to the other. there were 10 children in the family. they had different backgrounds but he goes to yell so they are both white men they get ivy league educations. they end up serving world war ii band of action and on the periphery of action but they
both have that is a common experience and both of them have a complaint, dramatically different prescription for what america should be that they have a very similar complaint of one another about the common culture of post-war america about the "leave it to beaver" society in the post-world war ii culture that's built. in a common complaint against the 1950s culture they realize they have something in common so you have these two brilliant guys complaining about the same thing even though they want the country to go in completely different directions. add to there and background, common complaints and their really ensign love of arguing their love of cracking jokes and making fun of each other and that's where the friendship came from. >> their love of making fun of everybody else too should be in there because they are not sparing to anybody to talk about as they are on themselves. tell us about this thing they
have in common this critique of america. what were they unhappy about? 's you can dislike "leave it to beaver" or dislike ozzie and harriet but you don't have to start a magazine against it. so what was wrong with america in the early 1960s for these world were to veterans? >> the interesting part for me about writing this book was to analyze this post-world war ii culture. it isn't some accounts the richest society of rep told. and, equality -- income inequality was at the lowest it has ever been in since i should add so there were a lot of great things about society coming out of the greatest generation and yet here are these two people coming from that generation who are just pillorying them. i wanted to analyze that. what were the things they were complaining about? 's so i set up a tripartite image of what the culture stood
for, what the police were the central belief in the rational thought that would carry the day for us. we could trust in the bureaucrats to cures from the great depression or when the second world war for developing interstate highway system dig to get us places. there was this belief in rational thought congress. it's a fundamentally fundamentally american believe that in the 1950s it was at its peak. another part of this trip that i develop in the book is belief in a really friendly corporate capitalism or the government is going to take care of the corporations and corporations are not going to necessarily push back too hard on paying high taxes rate nobody likes to pay too high taxes but this was a time when the president of general motors when his secretary of defense as i can imagine a time when i would have to make a decision or something would be bad for general motors and also be bad for america and vice versa. >> intervened there to see if anybody can guess what the top
personal income tax rate was under eisenhower. i think it was 78. hard to imagine today. >> and then the third part of my painting here's what i call the rules of society which has to do with sort of the basic demeanor of the people the rules about a woman's hair and how high her skirt had to be a ernie and a man's haircut above his ears and what kinds of shoes he would wear and also how you would address somebody to principal or your boss, mr. or mrs., very formal. there were these rules and embedded in these rules were the hierarchy of society of how you were supposed to live in order to get ahead. both buckley and mailer looked at the society and even though it was the richest society in the history of man with a greater share of equality with higher taxes as you make mention they felt sort of limited. they felt like they couldn't be
truly free and they couldn't push beyond in mailer's case this sexual imitations or the use of bad words. he wanted these kinds of freedoms and but we for his part wanted freedom from the bureaucratic state. he wanted freedom from government to get government off our backs to use buckley sprays. >> you talk about freedom and what it means and what to do with it is one of the glues that hold the friendship together and that pulls them apart because the debates are quite divisive on this question. freedom has got to mean more to them than haircuts and you know good manners. i will say that mailer flunks the haircut test at any point during this decade but i wonder if you could tell us it might be illustrative to talk about their attitudes toward the civil rights movement raid you are
saying we have these rules in the society where everyone says mr. or mrs. my thought was except to black people in which white people in the south at least liberally withheld those terms of respect because they did not want to recognize african-americans as people worth addressing with dr. mr. mrs., professor. >> the story of the book starts with this budding friendship which starts in 1952 in chicago. these two guys are brought together both in their late 30s and there was this equally young promoter who wanted to get the left and right are doing this man named john golden who decided he would host a debate between buckley and mailer and he was the william promoter because he would host it two days before the title fight. he was going to promote this debate exactly the same way as
the fight. outside the grand medina theatre in downtown chicago get the billboard out the set up the mailer and yet posters everywhere. it was setup set up to be like the title fight. they were brought together and they had this fierce and very funny debate. buckley his first line out of the gates is i don't think i can hold the attention of mr. mailer because he will never stop looking at the world's glands and they went back and forth like this. you read this and you think what fun it would have been to have been there and there were people like abbie hoffman and a lot of the new left comes out of this and the out of this in any right as they are. at the end of that debate they really realize that they don't want to score simple points like a debate that it occurs to both of them that they are both trying to shape the future. they're both trying to push out of the bounds these cold war assumptions this post-war liberalism as we have come to call it. they want to create what comes
to be called as we all know what the 1960s. they want the radical movements on the right and the left to push beyond. one of the first that comes up as you speak of is the civil rights movement and this is of course a movement for freedom. it's called the freedom movement the march on washington for jobs and freedom. freedom is the key phrase there and buckley and mailer have very complicated relations with the civil rights movement. neither one of them looking back on a can we say were sterling supporters of civil rights although to be fair mailer did support the civil rights movement and he did think the honorifics you are talking about worm more specific than just name. it was respecting the person as a human being as a fellow human being and yet for his part he didn't have that many african-american friends. he had all sorts of problematic understandings of what black people were. he thought of them as hypersexualized, living for the
moment kind of people because they never knew if they would be around tomorrow. he wrote the famous essay in 1957. james baldwin hated that. james baldwin and mailer were really good friends. james baldwin hated that and had a love letter to my friend norman mailer. at least he supported civil rights movement. he understood that kind of freedom honoring someone as a human being is capable of living up to their fulfillment. mailer understood that. buckley for his part has a problematic relationship with the civil rights movement and basically he helps articulate the conservative opposition to the civil rights movement. >> which is how would you characterize that? >> against everything. he could have taken a conservative libertarian argument which would say something like the state has no business telling who sits next to who. this is not the states
responsibility and instead he crafted to arguments that we recognize today for better or worse really. he first of all thought most african-americans weren't get civilized to have access to the vote. he felt the same about uneducated white people too but of course there will wasn't a systematic movement trying to prevent white people from voting while there was this huge movement to prevent black people from having to vote. so there was this not civilized argument. the other argument that buckley coined was what was called the bootstraps argument. where whereas he would say the irish and the jewish came to america with nothing on a ship
tell us about your views on the social questions facing america today. >> it's a great question. i think this was a moment in american history when the experts were still whirling. people were looking to the smartest people in the room to explain what was going on and at this moment there was this incredibly small group of mostly white men but not entirely but mostly, who were brilliant in their way who were articulate, who led these larger-than-life lives who could appear on the page six tabloids as much as they could appear in the book section or an op-ed piece writing about the cold war. they were fun to listen to. i think people really enjoyed listening to them. i've had is as they talk about in this book people come up to me and say i disagreed with everything else ugly ever said and yet i'd love to watch them.
i love to hear him use the expansive vocabulary that he is famous for and they love the way he showed respect to the opposition. he let them air their opinions and have a voice. then he would destroy them. >> he would destroy them with his intellect and wit and not by yelling at them. >> exactly so i think a the combination of these things really matters. i have been asked quite a bit recently where are the public intellectuals of today? where the people who are these larger-than-life people who can illuminate us on isis and the kardashians at the same time. this is the kind of thing that buckley and mailer and gore vidal and james baldwin were able to speak on all the subjects. i think there has been a decline and i don't think we are less really and now than they wear them but i do think there has
been a decline. i think part of the reason is because we now have 114 channels to choose from so everyone can go to their own corner and listen to the voices that they want to hear. at night -- back in the 1960s and 70s there were three networks and very few outlets for people so you are almost networks if a large platform. >> somebody must have thought the way to draw viewers is to have two people who disagree debate each other as a post today having five people all of whom agree with each other have a joint conversation about the things they agree about. have we lost the capacity to tolerate opinions that don't conform precisely to our own? >> no of course not. maybe on tv we have but as human beings i don't think that at all. another thing that has happened is that changes that especially mailer on the left in the 1960s were advocating have taken hold and that is to broaden the table to invite more
voices to sit at the table african-americans would women all sort of underrepresented voices to come to the table. to an extent they won. now there was a time in the 60s when guys like buckley and mailer they felt like they could speak on behalf of the country. they felt like they could speak to the nation. they could be the walt whitman eliminating the whole country to itself and with the rights revolutions of the late 60s and 70s that became exposed as always fiction i guess but it became exposed as such and that would take a whole lot of tenacity of whole lot of guts to say i can speak on behalf of the nation. i don't think anybody has done that quite successfully at and not as successfully as these people have. >> wait a few weeks. i think there are a number of potential candidates out there who will definitely speak for
america. it sounds a little bit like they invited so many people to the table that they lost their seats. >> in some ways that's exactly right. >> you talk about these larger-than-life figures in when he's has larger-than-life mailer was married and divorced six times. married six times and only divorced five times. buckley was married once. when you talk about larger-than-life the named truman capote springs immediately to mind another one of our great novelist interesting brilliant character. he had a ball. the black-and-white ball and i've never understood how truman capote he had a ball but there was a ball and it was referred to as truman capote's black-and-white all which everybody who was anybody went to. can you tell us again why is that important not just
something that makes us all long for elbow gloves? >> the story of the ball again as i wrote this book it was sort of, i wanted to engage with the 60s and there they are in truman capote's novel in a fistfight. there they are debating james baldwin. the story told itself. it was so much fun to write and so one of the great pleasures is that i could tell the story of truman capote's black-and-white wall. in 1966 he had just finished and cold-blooded it was this huge success and he didn't have a hook to write truman capote. he had all this money now this time but no book to write. he always wanted to throw the black-and-white masquerade all so he did. he rented out the ballroom and the plaza hotel in new york city and he invited all of his friends and what's interesting about the story and wide the black-and-white all is said
estimating moment in time is because you look at his friend's word and it's all these literary intellectuals all these politicians were there. the editor of the "washington post" was the belle of the ball and that ensured a huge number of politicians coming from washington d.c.. secretaries and families of former presidents. they were kennedys there in truman's fair in all sorts of families there. then of course new york socialites the circle that truman capote he mostly swam in. so he embarked these new york wealthy elite the cultural literary intellectuals and they were there with franks somehow turned lillian hellman and things like that. there was this moment when americans both buckley and mailer wrote about it afterwards. there was a time when americans could pat themselves on the back and realize the health of the nation was good.
>> this was 1966. >> this is why they almost get in a fistfight he kisses at moment where it starts to break down their relationship but also the sense that america as a whole is conscience of the part of a common good that can speak to everybody. as the elegant black-and-white ball are walking into the plaza there were porters there taking pictures and norman mailer the worst dressed in the whole entire ball. there were people protesting saying there's a war going on. how can you celebrate while this is happening? do you fistfight between buckley and mailer and i hate to spoil it but mailer has two or three or 12 drinks and he sees george bundy working in the defense department for lbj. he is holding forth on how the war is righteous and good and
mailer goes up to him and challenges him and says how one earth can you possibly believe this? this is the black-and-white ball. lillian halim is there and she starts dressing down norman. how are you picking a fight at the ball and he said he felt like he was the younger brother and his younger sister was dressing him down in front of the football team. he went back to the bar and had more drinks and look for someone else who could fight and he saw his old friend william f. oakley. he's goes up to him and says put up your dukes, let's fight about vietnam and buckley says -- seasoned mailer's impossibly drunk. he puts his arm around him and they walk off together. it's an amazing moment and not just a celebrity story but filled with the substance of the breaking apart of american life as reflected through this friendship. >> to push you a little bit on the breaking of american life
because you admit this idea of the commonweal meaning this idea that there is what's good for america is good for general motors and vice versa. this is an idea that both mailer and buck wade subscribe to but certainly someone like james baldwin knew all along that there was not one vision of this commonweal. there were at least two and probably three. can you imagine tom hayden crashing the black-and-white all or stokely carmichael even better crashing the ball. are they oblivious to the generational divide? are they unwilling in 1966, are they unwilling to even factor in the civil rights movement as an important component part of the commonwealth or as a final critique of the commonwealth or did they just turn their backs on these things and argue with
each other? >> yes and no. in 19666 is right is black power is coming. the more nonviolence movement of martin luther king is still carrying on. starting to pick apart and 65 66 and 67 absolutely absolutely but there still is hope that we can reform this idea of the commonweal to the way that buckley and mailer wants to see fit. i don't want to say they don't see it taking apart but they sense there's this break is coming. there has been too much built up in the early 60s. their there are challenges from the left and from the white -- right. as represented by these conservative parties starting to get votes throughout the country. the right of the left are attacking the common middle and
think very vision has a chance to carry the day so they are fighting for this vision. but they don't see is the distraction of a comment wheel. they don't see this possibility that americans will give up on the good of the nation in favor of the good of themselves. >> when you say the destruction of that, and we'll both of them see this happening and it alarms both of them in here i think it began as the world war ii generation. they may not have been fighting for the same things at least not at home but what are the signs that the commonweal is falling apart. is there something broader suggested that the whole thing is going to topple? >> it's a good question. there's a great moment that i
was delighted to discover where in 1968 buckley invites mailer onto a television show that he had that was well viewed and propped him up and elevated him to yet another status higher up on the celebrity status and he has mailer on after he writes this incredible book which tells the first hand account and norman mailer was the star of the book as he was for most of norman mailer's books and it's the story of the march from the lincoln memorial to the pentagon pentagon, sort of this antiwar march and when you get to the pentagon they are going to invade the corridors of the pentagon and destroy america's war machine. they all know that they are not going to do this but this was the stated goal and when the protesters got there they were going to levitate the pentagon and get rid of the evil spirits and things like that.
mailer writes this remarkable book and buckley has mailer on the television show on firing line and it's a great interview. you can youtube it now. one of the questions the buckley asks is the one that the conservatives and middle americans wanted to know what the left at the time were protesting against the war. it says are you now an enemy of the country correct. does this make you as a representative of the left and enemy and mailer is flabbergasted. the language he uses if he says he has a steering love of country. he loves this country and what it can be so his mission was to make it the best it possibly could be. he failed in that in many reasons for his own personal failings was that his vision wasn't as inclusive as it might offend or as brilliant as it might have been that he and
buckley both shared the steering love of country. i just love that phrase and when you get to the later 60s and people protest and get laid commonweal against the war machine and seeing the country in those ways that's where buckley and mailer pullback from the new left and the new right. in doing so there's a little bit of your rowboat -- irrelevance. >> you said something that sparked an idea and now it has gone away. what is it? talk a little bit about their humor because you said it was fun to write this book and i think one of the reasons it was so fun is because they were really funny. if mailer writes his own obituary as if it were written by buckley so it's a.
if buckley style talking about baylor's death which is just one of the things that they like to do for each other. there are all these jewels in the archives. you would never know it unless you look. i think was 1979 boston magazine as mailer to write his own obituary and it's very very funny and it starts off talking about how his old friend bill buckley called him i can't remember what the words were because they were buckley words about 12 syllables long and the acronym was. >> rmv but the piece you are referring to is 1975 a charitable organization was auctioning off tonight with bill buckley. they were looking around saying who could auction off bill buckley alex willmar men mailer so in the archives i found this typewritten here to auction off the night with bill buckley and norman mailer writes this description of what bill buckley is like and i couldn't repeat it
because the vocabulary word searches huge and it's really funny. i'd try to figure out what all the words were. i tried to explain it to somebody and they said those words don't make sense. he mailed off a clean copy to ugly right after the auction and he said for you and buckley writes back and he says thanks i haven't had a thesaurus around long enough to figure out what you just auction off but i will try to sound as smart as you made me sound. let's get together for a drink sometime. it was a great archival find and that was one of the things -- do every single debate they were and they just had so much fun making fun of the other one for their vices. but it was a friendly kind of making fun of. they weren't attacking too deeply and i knew when they were making these personal cuts they still were going to debate the
deeper subjects that they didn't let the personal given the way of the deep philosophical arguments that they wanted to have. >> that's one of the biggest changes from today is that it does seem to be very ad hominem. people do attack each other rather than contesting the ideas that they are putting out. i think mailer and buckley certainly didn't pull their punches and both of them punched hard but they didn't call each other names. >> well they called each other names. but what they did too was the defendant the other person to their own parties. so in late 1963 and north carolina of all places buckley was talking about in his speech talking about norman mailer. he was engaging with the radicals on the left saying what is wrong with the left is what's
wrong with norman mailer. it's not his wives or his girlfriends what happens when you try to live a life free of foundations. when you give up christian ethics and these kinds of things. they look at how radical you are and there's nothing to groundview. he talks about mailer's bad words and his descriptions of sex acts and things like that. the students at the university of north carolina attacked him for using foul language. he said how can you engage with the ideas of norman mailer if you don't engage with the ideas of norman mailer? do you really need to understand what the left is argued -- all about if you want to argue with them. >> i do want to monopolize you. i think we have people who are anxious to ask a question so we will take some questions from the audience. yes maam. it would help if you could go to the microphone. sorry about that.
>> you haven't talked about their relationships to the women's movement which were very powerful. both of them are antagonistic and norman mailer loved the idea of women being independent enough to sleep with him but not big enough to be political in the world so i would like you to talk about that. >> there's a whole chapter in the book on this exact question and i'm grateful. the first time i ever presented on this friendship i had no business doing it. i was thinking of this book and presenting it. the first question someone asked was that one. how are you going to write a book about the 60s based on two old white guys and where's the women's movement? 's both of them were so wrong when it came to this movement in a lot of ways and the section where i talk about
this at the last section of the book where buckley and mailer are starting to watch the 1960s and early 70s watch american life move on both of them being quite as -- as they were in the middle 60s. at this moment where they have to recalibrate before they can get involved in public life and one of the big challenges the both of them faces the rights of women. the story of mailer has a perfect encapsulation of this. he imagined itself as the leader of the sexual revolution of the 60s but it meant to have as many lovers as he could possibly happen not be punished by the constraints of society. hugh hefner was one of the people that appears in the book as the paragon of the sexual revolution. so in 1969 "time" magazine calls of norman mailer and wants to interview him about the sexual
liberation and women's movement. he thinks he is the star because he's the one promoting this and when it comes out "time" magazine is cape kate millett was on the cover of "time" magazine. she spent 30 pages destroying mailer's fictional understandings of women and how was based on power and conquest. it wasn't based on equality at all and mailer realized these movements for freedom for pushing in directions that he was unprepared for and he was really unwilling to acquiesce. so he writes a book about it like he does because he's norman mailer and to promote it in to sell books because he is a paramount promoter above all else he has this debate at town hall in new york city which brings for feminists up diane trilling the poet jill johnson and two other women in that debate him. he comes in a three-piece suit and he's walking around.
he calls them all ladies the whole time. he's in on the joke in some ways. he knows he is being made a buffoon of but rather than take their side he plays the odd man out trying to sell books in some ways. after that he takes a step back from public life and he starts writing about celebrities. he is no longer the walt whitman to america and it takes them a full decade to recalibrate. when he does recalibrate he's writing about utah and a murder that takes place there as opposed to writing about what life in america is like today. it's a great question. >> thanks. i was fortunate enough to read richard hofstadter's the pier and i'd style of american politics just a few weeks ago and it's great hearing you talk about this. i was thinking that these two men are so brilliant that they couldn't make themselves
demonize what the other person was saying. they had to really think about where the other person was coming from and where the other side was coming from so they couldn't go to that level of vituperation that we kind of do now like sean hannity. >> that's exactly right in every single one of their letters not every but every time that the long letter they say let's get to you there sometime and after dinner we can retire just the two of us and i can cure you of all the problems in your thought and you can cure me of all the problems in my thought. they have this impact for each other's intellect. they had this respect for people people -- for each other as people. they did think the other person might be able to teach them something and that was the spirit of engagement that they had. it wasn't about scoring points. it was about figuring out the best way to live a fulfilling life in the united states. these guys have all sorts of flaws as we just talked about
without respect was the ground of their friendship. >> it sounds like people on television today are not as smart as buckley and norman mailer and they might do better if they were smart enough to figure out the rebuttals to their own arguments might be. >> i also think they are not rewarded for being as capacious thinkers for being as engage with the other side and think about who crosses lines. maybe you get jon stewart debating bill o'rielly but that is seen as a sideshow and that's maybe not a bad parallel. bill o'rielly is very successful at what he does. jon stewart is a comedian and a very effective and good one and i don't mean to criticize these people but they are rewarded in different ways than how mailer and buckley were awarded.
>> speaking of crossing lines mr. buckley played a key role in the stifling of the john birch and the republican party would perhaps be better off if there was someone to speak and fill that vacuum. kimmie speak to that? >> one of the things that buckley was central in doing and why he's such an important figure in american history is he in the 1950s not single-handedly but it was safe to say he was a key player who took these very strands of conservative thought traditionalist ideas that we need to follow the rules scrupulously these libertarian ideas i'm bring them together into what we now know as the republican party in some ways. part of the reason he was so successful at doing that was because he did excommunicate the most ideologically pure voices. he got rid of all ayn rand. he didn't get rid of her. he started excised or from the
movement. he got rid of the john birch society and chastised the pope are not living up to church additional living. he wanted to curtail the uglier parts of what have been american conservatism and getting rid of its anti-semitism. he was very active in getting rid of the anti-semitic threat of conservative thought in the 50s. that was the conservative party that he will. i do think if you look at the republican party today he might say something along those lines would be ideological. needs to be excised or curtail the given a smaller part a smaller voice in the conservative party but i also think he would be instrumental about wanting the republicans to win. >> let us suppose that the publisher w.w. norton was developing a new text called
anthology to modern political literature. which letters of buckley and mailer would you submit is an excerpt or which transcript would you submit is being most representative of the conflict between liberalism and conservatism in the 1960s? >> well it's funny they use the word between liberalism and conservatism because one of the things that united them was they saw america's having a liberal center and we have appropriated that word and we think of that is as the left-wing. playboy magazine what a great intellectual life. we have this intellectual heavyweights battling it out in chicago two days before price spike in the transcripts going to playboy magazine over two issues of "playboy" magazine. upon a drinking a martini and buckley and mailer's names next
to it. a month later there is a letter to the editor from norman mailer saying i don't care what you call me. call me a communist a rebel a left conservative. whatever you do don't call me a liberal. liberal is the liberal center that both the left and the right were attacking. but to get to your question specifically, one of my favorite letters that i found between the two of them happened after selma selma. bill buckley was invited to prop up the new york city cops the catholic organization of new york city cops and he was trying to defend the police action at selma so it didn't go over well. let's just say that and there was a huge theory going on in an "new york post" attacking buckley for defending the plan and the police at selma. buckley discovers the fathers of the holy name society had
tape-recorded this lecture so he calls a press conference immediately. a press conference is full. they play the tape and when he starts to talk about some of the tape breaks. it's watergate all over again. everyone is leaning an up and they fixed the tape there are 30 seconds missing and it was the moment when he was talking about selma. he has not recuperated at all in the press. then there was this beautiful funny back-and-forth. his letter comes than a month later from norman mailer and it says i suppose you have just replaced me as the most hated man in american life. he talks about how the left should view the cops versus how the conservatives should view the cops. buckley writes back and engages with some of those ideas and the series of letters with this dynamic interplay on times are changing great how should we view them and understand them
without becoming the most hated in american life. >> that's illustrative and one of the points you make in the book which is each of them is fearless and they are vilified. each one of them is vilified many times that they are not afraid to say what they think and to tell people things that nobody wants to hear. i think that's another one of their hallmarks. you have to have a strong ego. you have to have thick skin but when they talk of themselves as citizen intellectuals they see that as their duty is to say things that people may not want to hear and may really come back at them for. >> they both have tremendous egos without a doubt. they both were told from a young age that they were the smartest person in the room and people needed to listen and respect them. one time when they are on firing line together buckley says
suppose you are in the soviet union. would you be more afraid of the mailer or a buckley administration and mailer laughs and says i'm glad i'm not the only egotist in the room. but yes they were fearless because they were confident but they also weren't afraid to pick fights and as we talk about with the women's movement to risk losing fights and looking like a buffoon. to their credit but it also came with all this baggage. >> is a person who lived in that era also as a baby boomer and a person who would be considered a conservative because i voted for richard nixon but i like what you said about the appropriation or perversion of the word liberal because jefferson and adams disagreed. those were trying times or so intellectual people can disagree disagree. i wanted to mention one little
thing. buckley and i remember buckley admired him. i have read mailer and i don't like the language for the very intellectual person as well. you didn't touch on the fact that he shot his wife and didn't touch on belly of the beasts that we will leave that alone. >> he actually stabbed her. >> and she still didn't divorce him. it took a little while. >> you mentioned earlier in your introduction he mentioned a little thing that irks me on the thing when he said buckley grew up -- the acronym white anglo-saxon protestant. there's one other group which is protestant. that's another core group. that would include j. edgar hoover and richard nixon who grew up in poverty, not poverty but you know so i'm just saying that's an area that the young catholics were rebelling against their church and there were a lot of them marching on the left
with father mohaqiq etc.. that was leaving out a group of americana so that's what i'm saying the wealthy buckley and kennedy family and catholic frustration also wanted somebody to look at as well. who became a punching bag is the jaeger hoover and the protestant people that came from poverty. >> i used the phrase waspy. i did mention he was catholic but i use it as a cultural marker is the refined life he lived. i have a part in the book where he talk about what it meant to him to be catholic. he was no fan of vatican ii and the changes. he didn't hate all of them but he was not a friend of them. he was a devout catholic and claim to have never wavered in his belief his whole life. i'd like you are suggesting seem to think that made him, we talked about the competence of ego that made him -- made them
work called that because he was sure he was in possession of the truth with a capital d truth. this was something he had been taught through his faith. when you have possession of the truth and catholics were vilified and sometimes discriminated against in d.c. this and it helps them develop this. i've rebelling against the wasp elite absolutely right. his catholic faith was really important him and foundational. >> i was going to say he killed the father but he actually killed his alma mater by writing it which you could see apart is the product of the catholic at yale facing a roomful of protestants. the class of el i don't remember his graduating class but that would have been a good group. >> exactly right although he did give his papers back to yell so if you want to study buckley you
have to find them. >> i see so he did love his alma mater. that is as good a point as any to end. i'm afraid we have to answer the program can continue. thank you for coming and especially for supporting book fest. do we have time for one more question? i'm sorry but our author will be here to sign all the books you are going to buy right outside the door. thank you so much. thank you kevin schultz. [applause] >> on behalf of the lit fest thank you to kevin shultz, jane daly and most of all thanks to all of you for attending. mr. shultz will be signing books and taking more questions in the lobby right outside.