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tv   Nothing Ever Dies  CSPAN  November 12, 2016 3:00pm-4:01pm EST

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and at eight, danny orbach recalls the plots toss assassinate adolf hitler. at 9 p.m., national book award winning biographer deirdre baer on the life of organized crime boss al capone. and on booktv's "after words" program at 10 p.m. eastern, george boar house discussed the impact of immigration on the economy. and we wrap up our saturday prime time lineup at 11 with former banker bradley birken fed's book, "lucifer's banker." that all happens tonight on c-span2's booktv. >> the national book awards will be presented this wednesday. every year five nonfiction books are nominated and one is selected. four of those authors have appeared on booktv this year, and we're airing those authors beginning now on booktv on c-span2. first up, the book nothing ever
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dies: vietnam and the memory of war. [inaudible conversations] >> tonight's wisconsin book festival. i'm here as a member of the board of the wisconsin humanities council, and it's really a tremendous pleasure to be able to introduce the next speaker and to thank, first of all, the madison public library the library foundation, humanities council, all the other sponsors. this is probably a good time to remind you to check and make sure that your cell phone is silent. everybody reaches for the cell phone immediately. and the book festival is asking people to talk about their experiences using the hashtag
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wibookit's -- wi book fest. all one word. books are for sale afterwards out in the, just on the other side of this wall. viet is really a remarkable author. you get people who are accomplished as literary authors and people who are accomplished as nonfiction authors, and hera has actually pulled off major accomplish bements in both -- accomplishments in both rell are ms in basically the last year with another book coming. the two books he'll talk about today, the sympathizer and nothing ever dies. he's, of course, the chair of english and professor of english and american studies and ethnicity at the university of southern california. and his books -- he's not only won a pulitzer prize, but his
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books, you read the reviews, and they're just stunning on both of them. new york times called the sympathizer a remarkable debut novel and kirkus talks about nothing ever dies as a powerful reflection on how we choose to remember and forget. in addition to buying his booksw i would urge you to read his, the blog that he edits. but you're here to hear viet. welcome. [applause] >> thanks, everybody. thanks for coming tonight. i was last here in madison in 2008 when i was here for the entire summer be, actually, studying at university or, studying vietnamese. and back then i was live anything this undergraduate'sin apartment. so it's nice to be back on a slightly different scale. and actually, when i was here in 2008, what i was doing -- the
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reason i was studying vietnamese is because i was working on these projects about vietnam, you know??becaus i was travel aring there, doing field work there, and, of course, i was writing short stories, but i had not yet started writing the sympathizer. so i thought i would start off reading one of the first paragraphs from nothing ever dies, because it'll give you a sense of who i am, what i'm doing, and this is actually a commentary on both of the books. i was born in vietnam but made in america. i count myself among those vietnamese displayed by america's deeds but tempted to believe in its words. i also count myself among those americans who often do not know what to make of vietnam and want to know what to make of it. americans as well as many people the world over tend to mistake vietnam with the war named in its honor or dishonor as the case may be. this confusion has no doubt led to some of my own uncertainty
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about what it means to be a man with two countries as well as the inheritor of two revolutions. today the vietnamese and and american revolutions manufacturh memories only to absolve the hardening of their arteries. for those of us who consider ourselves to be inher or to haves of one or both of these revolutions or who have been influenced by them in some way, we have to know how we make memories and how we forget them so that we can beat their hearts back to life. that is the project or at least the hope of this book. so those words actually are a pretty good description of what i've tried to do in the sympathizer as well. and nothing ever dies is really the nonfiction sequel to the sympathizer. there are a lot of things i couldn't say in the sympathizer because it's a novel, and is you really can't step out of character, and you'll find that in nothing ever dies which is really a study of how we remember, how we forget, why do we go to war, the importance of recognizing our inhumanity as much as our humanity and what
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are the possibilities of peace and reconciliation. and in the sympathizer, i try to address those questions too, but in a more dramatic, in a more fictional way. and, obvious, in thehe sympathizer, writing a a novel, i can get away with saying a lot of stuff without having to engage in footnotes. [laughter] and saying outrageous things and you just have to accept them. and that's just part of the joy and, you know, the liberty of writing fiction. so the sympathizer is a novel about a communist spy in the south vietnamese army in april 1975, and he's in saigon as it's about to fall or be liberated, depending on your point of view. and because he's a communist spy in the south vietnamese army, he does see both perspectives, and he tells you that's his one talent, the ability to see any issue from both sides. his mission is to flee with the remnants of that army to the united states and spy on their efforts to take the country back
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which this really did happen in this time period. and what happens when the vietnamese refugees get to the united states is they are put into refugee camps before they can be dispersed and resettled. he ended up in camp pendleton, and i ended up newtown gap this pennsylvania. in pennsylvania. so this next part of the reading comes from the sympathizer when he's in that camp. he's writing a letter to his supposed aunt, and and he's going to tell her what life is like for these new refugees in southern california. if allowed to stay together, i told my aunt, we could have incorporated ourselves into a respectably-sized, self-sufficient colony. a pimple on the buttocks of the american body politic. i think that's pretty funny, but that's just me.mple on
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[laughter] sufficiently collective to elect our own representative to the congress and have a voice in our america. a little saigon as delightful, delirious and dysfunctional as the original. which was exactly why we were not allowed to stay together, but were instead dispersed by bureaucratic fiat. for example, to places like madison, wisconsin. this is one of the reasons why you have so many health care mong people -- hmong people here. wherever we found ourselves, we found each other. we did our best to conjure up the culinary staples of our but since we were dependent be on chinese markets, our food had an unacceptably chinese tinge. [laughter]es if you know anything about seat seat ma please people, they -- vietnamese people, they hate chinese people. [laughter] it was another blow that left us
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with a sweet and sour taste of unreliable memories just correct enough to evoke the past, just wrong enough to remind us that the past was forever gone.nd missing along with the proper variety, subtly and complexity of our universal, solvent fish sauce. [laughter] oh, fish sauce. how we missed it. how nothing tasted right without it. in this pungent liquid condiment of the darkest sepia hue was much denigrated by foreigners for its supposedly horrendous can reek, lending new meaning to the phrase, there's something fishy around here. [laughter]. for we were the fishy ones. we used fish sauce the way villagers wore cloves of garlicc to ward off vampires. in our case to establish a perimeter with those westerners who could never understand what was truly fishy was the nauseating stench of cheese. [laughter]we est
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i guess i should say cheese kurds. [laughter] and the little digression. you know, i'm staying at this very nice hotel, edgewater, and they're very kind in some ways. they delivered a plate of food to my door when i got there and, of course, there was cheese, okay? [laughter] what was fermented fish compared to curdled milk? out of deference to our hosts, we kept our feelings tour ourselves, sitting close to one another on prickly sofas and scratchy carpets, our knees touching, chewing on dried squid and the cud of remembrance until our jaws ached, trading stories heard second and thirdhand about our scattered countrymen. this was the way we learned that the clan turned into slave labor by a farmer in modesto and the naive girl who flew to into cane and was sold to a -- spokane and was sold to a brothel. and the -- [inaudible] who laid down in the snow withth
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mouth open until he was buried and froze beening. and the regretful refugees on guam who petitioned to go backre to vietnam never to be heard from again.s and the spoiled girl seduced by heroin who disappeared into the baltimore streets, and the devout buddhist who spanked his young son and was arrested fors. child abuse in houston. and the husband who slapped his wife and was chest candidated for -- and the women who had escaped but left husbands behind and the children who had escaped without parents and grandparents and the families missing, one,ne two, three or more children. sifting through the dirt, we panned for gold. the story of the baby orphanhr adopted by a kansas billionaire or the mechanic who bought a lottery ticket in arlington and became a multimillionaire, or the girl elected president of her high school class in batten rooming, or the boy accept -- baton rouge.
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or the movie star you loved so much, dear aunt, who circled the world from airport to airport, no country letting her in after the fall of saigon. none of her american movie star friends returning her desperate phone calls until, with her haas dime, she snagged township by head drone -- tippy hadron who flew her to hollywood. we rinsed ourselves with hope, and for all that we believed almost every rumor we heard, almost a all of us refused to believe that our nation was dead. be the story about township by hadron are was true. this story is true, the movie movie star was -- she is very famous of the enema and you may have seen her in the joy luck club. on a footnote to this to be hedren, puts on the people that she met that she thought i would be a good idea to take a
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personal manicures to the refugee camps and teach these women how to manicure so they would have the potential earning a living in this country. and we now on 51% of the nail salons in this country. on one hand that's a positive note on immigration on another hand that could and up on a trump campaign ad. i'm in madison right? [laughter] so you have to make a living, our narrator. one of the things that he does is he gets out of camp goes to los angeles and becomes the authenticity consultant on the making of a movie that is going to be an epic movie shot in the philippines. this is made up in my imagination. so he meets with the director of this film and it's given the director some notes as we call them in hollywood. the director director is only known as the older two or. while the your has gone on little while longer and that
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more subdued fashion and pointing out that the lack of speaking parts were be means people in a movie set in vietnam might be interpreted as cultural insensitivity. to not think it would be a little more realistic i said? a a little more authentic? so a movie set in a certain country for the people in that country to have something to say instead of letting your school play direct as it does now, cut to villagers speaking in their own language. do you think it might not be decent to let them actually say something instead of acknowledging there some kind of sound coming from their mouth's? could you have them speak a heavy accented english, you know what i mean. ching chong english, just to be sure that there speaking so that americans can understand.
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he grimaced. i said very interesting, good stuff, loved it without a question, what was it oh yes, how many movies have you made? none. zero. zilch. not a. nothing, and and however use it in your language. so thank you for telling me how to do my job now get the hell out of my house and get back when you have made an movie or two, maybe then i will listen to one or two of your cheap ideas. i confessed to be angry with him. but was i wrong and be an angry question this is the case we
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acknowledge he did not even know that it was something the french catch altar for the dozen of minorities. so the movie was called hamlet about green berets who are defending these -- from the vietcong who are known in the screen play as king kong because they are so bad. so what if i said to him, i wrote a screenplay about the american west and it's called all the latest indians. you would want to know whether the caliber was under the navajo, apache or or , likewise i would want to know, whether we speak of the group or the young, or the tape. let me tell you a secret he said, are you ready? here it is, no one gives a --
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expletive. it was like without hair, how can i be so dense and deluded, i may believe with simultaneous pickpocket it. hollywood did not just make movie monsters, it was his own for movie monster smashing me under its foot. i failed, and he would make the hamlet as he intended with my countrymen serving nearly as raw material from epic about white men hitting good people from bad yellow people. i pitted the french from the naïveté of the country in order to exploit it. hollywood, it was much more efficient, in the countries that wanted to exploit.
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i was mad and by my helplessness. had arrogance sparked something new of the world for this was the first war where the losers would write history instead of the victors. courtesy of the most efficient propaganda machine ever created, with all due respect with global domination. hollywood high priest understood neatly the observation of satan that it was it better to rule and help in serving heaven. better to be billing, loser, or antihero then virtuous extra. so long as one commanded the bright lights of center stage. it was forthcoming, all the vietnamese of any side would come out poorly, herded into the rules of the poor, the innocent, innocent, the evil, whether corrupt. our fate was not to be merely mute, we were to be struck down.
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i've had several meetings with hollywood people and i've asked them if they were offended by this characterization and it's a no. so if you know anything about vietnamese people and i will grossly stereotype them because i'm one of them. would you know that we love to sing, drink, and dance. so soon after arriving as poor refugees in southern california and getting out of the refugee camp one of the first things that my people did was open a nightclub, true story. that nightclub became the basis of paris by night witches a song and dance extravaganza which is in about 130 iterations and video dvds and shut locations like paris, las vegas, and so on. and it's a spectacular show in the 80s and 90s who's better
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than anything produced and to be struggle back into vietnam. on the gray market. so they go to the nightclub and encounters one woman he should not to fall in love with, the daughter of his boss, the general. known by one name, like john, paul, george, ringo, and mary, because i'm a screwed up catholic, wanda stepped on stage, black lace lace gloves and thigh-high leather boots. my hard would've paused at the boots, the heels or the flat smooth slice of her belly. linked between miniskirt and bustiers. but the combination of all three rest in my heart altogether and beat it with the vigor of a los angeles police squad.
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[laughter] they didn't laugh at that in los angeles, it was easily limping by her torch song. she turned on the heat with her first number, the unexpected i love you to want me. i think most people are thinking i want you to want me, it's not the case, it is i love you to want me. if you are in the 1970s or 80s you knew who the person was. i heard this before some only by men. i love you to want me was a theme song of the bachelors and unhappy elite married males of my generation. whether in english original or the french a vietnamese renditions. what it expressed was unrequited love. we men of the south love nothing more than unrequited love. cigarettes, coffee, and coconut.
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all i wanted to stipulate myself in an night with her to remember forever and ever. everyone in the room should my motion as we washer didn't know where this went the microphone. her voice enough to move the audience or rather, to still us. nobody talked, nobody stirred, except to resist cigarette or glass. in utter concentration not broken for next, slightly more upbeat number, bang bang, my baby shut me down. while this version of bang, bang, learned english was french and vietnamese. the last night at the french version echoed the vietnamese version, we will never forget, the tricolor rendition was one of the most memorable. masterfully weeding together
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with two lovers who regardless of having known each other since childhood or because of knowing each other since childhood, shoot each other down. bang, bang, was the sound of the pistol firing into the heads. for we cannot forget love, we cannot forget were, we cannot forget lovers, we cannot forget lovers, we cannot forget enemies. we cannot forget home, and we cannot forget saigon. we cannot forget the caramel flavor of ice coffee with coarse sugar. the bowls of noodle soup even while -- on the sidewalk. the strumming of a guitar while we swing on hammocks under the coconut trees. the whisper of the do we lovers sing in the most seductive words in our language at night. the working man who slept in the streets, kept were only by the members of their families, the refugees who slept on every sidewalk of every city. the sweetness and firmness of the mango plucked from the tree. the girls refused to talk to us and only pined for more. the the men who died or disappeared, the
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streets are blown away from bonds bomb shells. the the secret grove that we spy and bathed and splashed with the innocence of the bird. the barking of a hungry dog and abandon village. the sight and sound of brookins hollowing by the dead bodies of their mothers and fathers. the stickiness of one shirt by afternoon. the stickiness of one's lover by the end of lovemaking. the stickiness of her situation. and while the list could go on, on, on, and on, the point was simply this. the most important thing we can never forget was that we could never forget. i went with a couple of paragraphs at the very end of bae-2. it's a nonfiction, critical work but also narrative that a narrative that is about my life and my family
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remembering and forgetting intertwined together making us who we are. one, and another never without the other. remember, so much has been forgotten or silence. while personal memory is faulty. through my youth had a memory of soldiers fighting onto another boat as we floated on the south china sea, i was four. my brother, seven years older said the shooting never happen. as an adult, i remember my mother being hospitalized when i was a child. a few years ago i discovered a member had had written in college, i read in my own words that she was in the hospital at that time, not your. her illness, and that strange word with its patients had made me feel like i was a fighting child. that feeling is what i remember.
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as for my father, it's pointless to ask him about the past. his relationship with the pastors to muffle it. at least in my presence. i visited his homeland, i have never visited my own origin, the town where i was born because he has forbidden it. more than once he said you can never go back there. too many people will remember him and persecute me or so he believes. his father survived the holocaust, and he says, i had no clue as to how to find the places my father had been telling me he grew up in. and he wasn't much help except to tell us not to go at all. because they kill jews there. using the present tense, they kill jews there, don't go. he was afraid for us. everyone must believe in memories that do not die.
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there's not a nemesis that retain our final force. while i disobeyed my father many thanks, cannot in this one thing but the junction is too strong, the specter of the unknown past, what is it that he remembers of this place? what will he not tell me, what if he is right? this absence of the forbidding presence is the opposite of memory. perhaps some things will never be remembered, yet also never forgotten. perhaps some things will remain unspoken, yet always heard. perhaps i will only visit i was born after my father has passed on. then, it will be too late to see what it is that he remembers, with the memory at last expired. this is the paradox of the past, the trauma of loss, of war, where the unknown, no conversation except that which cannot be finished. >> . . .
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>> regardless of what they find, they must wash the bones with their own hands. then they bury the bones once more, this time closer to the living. thank you. [applause] so we have a little bit of time, and this is actually my favorite part of readings, is hearing questions from the audience and engaging with your concerns and questions.
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so please feel free. .. nod [inaudible] what happened -- [inaudible question] >> i think there is a distinction with reconciliation. people in both countries have forgotten or tried to forget and that itself is problematic because if anything you can try to forget. it will come back at you. that is the history of war too. looking at our own civil war 150 years ago i don't know if we
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have forgotten. the lessons of war are entrenched in many ways in our society come our feelings and structures and systems. they tried to forget, rewrite the past. it has gone from being a bad war in american memory to being a not so bad war. this is bipartisan narrative, democrats and republicans, president obama too, this was a failed war, we lost but we tried our best, with the best of intentions, noble intentions and we should remember our soldiers because they fight for freedom and each other. the narrative is being used, increasingly dominant in popular culture and politics and state department, washington dc, and giving talks, then american
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policy, american exceptionalism, people believe in that, they really do. the practical impact is what this means, instead of learning negative lessons in the vietnam war. a lesson the pentagon, state department, we can do this better. we don't carpet bomb anymore. i don't think there is reconciliation, vietnam, a lot of veterans go back and are struck by the fact that people walk in with open arms including veterans and he was a photographer, we did a tour together and went to marder secretary where the dead come to school because they are buried, there was a family celebrating death day. they saw him and had alcohol.
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come have a shot with us. americans are welcome back with open arms. the state reconciled with americans, and genuine friendships. and it is much more problematic. war between brothers and sisters. that is where it is right there. in the back. there is a q and a. >> you should try to line up. you teach writing.
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>> i teach writing. >> you don't teach writing. what do you do? and what lessons do you preach? >> if you are talking fiction writing, it is generally taught through the writing workshop model, a professor and a bunch of writing students if you read their work and you criticize that piece of work. flannery o'connor, the model of the blind leading the blind. at the end of the sympathizer, that happens in the education camps is you are a prisoner you are forced to constantly write your confession and have to self criticize with everyone listen to confession and they criticize you. it is a writing workshop and coincidentally, they felt it at
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the same time, in east asia, the writing workshop, in the united states in the 1940s in 1950s, i'm not breaking this up, workshop this empire by then it which argues the cia had a hand in the development of writing workshops. the cia had a hand in promoting modernist art in europe, there are books about this. modern art in europe exemplified the possibilities of freedom and democracy. in other words you should be paranoid. if i were to teach -- if i were to teach writing it would be in the context of a larger goal. i don't like the us writing workshop. it is in a political form of the sizing structure. in the writing workshop you are taught character, narration,
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time, setting. i was interested in history, politics, no one taught me about history and politics. in 20 years to write the sympathizer because there is no instruction to deal with these things. and you can separate from the history in which technique is developed. students can write. we also read criticism and theory. i argued you need to think of yourself as someone who can tell a story and a point they want to make. if you are not that kind of writer i am not interested. to teach those kind of writers, only one story, your question. >> is there a book you recommend? on writing? >> student tape is actually really good. seriously.
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>> a couple books i read about vietnam, one of them channeled, fought with the self army, and the personal experience, is there any person or individual who drew inspiration for your characters? >> you are talking about the market. >> where the ashes are. >> with that. >> i had a short list of novels. the most important, and arthur, when i talk about it, no one heard of this man except the
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polish journalists, the portuguese think he should have won. the book is called the land at the end of the world. in the portuguese war, the decolonization. and you write that experience, deeply influenced by the tone. and melancholy and sorrow. and a few pages at a time the writing is so dense. and to approximate that in their own writing. when i started to see, really excited, i was channeling this.
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this -- the pro-plaps in the book, it is dense with images, very attentive to language, that is the reason why, that particular book. >> what a privilege to hear you read and speak. my question is wanting to hear more about your views on how traumatic events in history should be commemorated or not. a lot of campuses including mine, a front discussion on who should be recognized and what lens we should use to figure out what should be remembered or forgotten. i am curious to hear so much
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about what you are talking about. >> i will give you a good example and a bad example. one of the rare memorials i encountered is the okinawan official title if you go to okinawa there is a huge battle fought in okinawa during world war ii. japanese american soldiers and civilians living on the island, beautiful memorial and commemorates every single person. you rarely encounter monuments to war that remember more than one side and the reason is obvious. we want to remember our own side and what happened to us and screw the other guy. don't need to remember them. always help us to remember and to forget at the same time. and humanity on the other side. of negative example. bob kerry, former senator bob
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kerry, presidential candidate bob kerry to confess in the early 90s he was a navy seal in the vietnam war. forced to confess because the new york times was going to report on this, into this village in south vietnam, killed 20 that armed enemies and civilians and old people. this happened. recently harvard university wants to start the first private american university in vietnam and bob kerry was the person they, the board of trustees and this was a gesture of reconciliation. look at this guy who suffered, it wouldn't be great, the gesture of peaceful
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reconciliation and university, deeply divided people, that is reconciliation and people said it is not reconciliation. if this were to happen here are things that would make it genuine reconciliation. bob kerry should go to the village and apologize to the survivors, give these people scholarships to universities. important to have bob kerry as chairman, and you want to reconcile the path and what it did, put a monument on the ground to people who died. never going to happen. 5 recommendations altogether. overall, nothing about it, i argue, universal that we want to remember our humanity and forget the humanity of others and if we are good, we want to remember our humanity and the humanity of others. the most difficult thing to do
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that could move us toward peace and reconciliation, is to remember our humanity but this makes us human beings. war is savage, brutal, something evil terrible people do. why do we keep fighting wars. multiple times in one generation and the reason why is we don't believe we can begin human. from the american perspective this is a humane operation. who would disagree with a drone strike? we didn't carpet bomb you so you should appreciate that but getting hit by drone strikes, in 7 different countries, this is not a state of war but someone to put a drone strike on us territories, this is the kind of thinking propagated by thinking we are human and they are inhuman, very difficult to think
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of ourselves as human and inhuman it the same time, and people do terrible things. our country has done this and not just america, vietnam can't acknowledge that. >> i haven't read the whole thing but what i really notice, really funny. of thriller as well. especially in the early chapters, wondering if you could comment on that, how they play together. >> i wanted to write a serious novel but serious novels are boring. i'm a professor of english.
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i acknowledge a lot of things we call serious literature can be boring. i am a believer in the idea we have a genre which is literary fiction. that is not a genre but if you read enough literary fiction you realize it is a genre. it is really boring. all sorts of aesthetic things the genre is supposed to do but if you read explicitly the process described genre fiction like detective novels, thrillers, science fiction, fantasy, romance novels, you realize the best of these books are better than the average literary fiction and are very entertaining. i don't read these books anymore because if i did i would be up on night reading them. i had to stop myself. genre fiction on the average is more political than literary
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fiction. going back to the idea the writing workshop propagates, one way that happened is remove politics. in science fiction i just read 20 years later, read mars by kim stanley robinson about the colonization of mars. that is a full-blown political manifesto about what it would mean to rebuild human civilization on another planet and how we will fuck that up anyway. it is much better than most of the literary books i read this year. i want to write a serious book that is also entertaining. graham team, joseph conrad, i have done that too. that is the genealogy i went to see myself getting into. that was very explicit from the beginning.
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i knew it was a spy novel but i didn't know it was going to be funny. i read joseph heller, catch-22, loved it, never thought i could be funny. i read journey to the end of the night, i thought that was pretty funny. i created this character, inhabiting his voice and narrated the novel, and alcoholic, a womanizer, half vietnamese and half french though everyone calls him a basket and he internalized that, he is torn up and he is sarcastic and very smart or at least he thinks he is very smart and then we find he is too smart for his own good but the whole combination turned out to be pretty funny. the reason why is because there are a lot of things that are funny in our world that we were learned not to laugh at because we have grown up, we have become adult, you have become normalized of hypocrisy of our culture and he is someone who because he is half drunk and bitter and cynical and full of
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himself, to see these hypocrisies and absurdities and hopefully that is funny. >> i feel like i read this book and learned a lot post vietnam war which i didn't learn in school. i wonder if there's a message or ideas you had for the younger generation. >> you are making me feel old. i don't like piety so i never thought of an answer to that question. who cares what i think of passing until younger generation. part of it i already said. refused to believe absurdities, refuse to believe hypocrisies. when you hear presidents speak
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even if you like them. whatever cows produce here. you got to be cynical and skeptical. i am a professor. i am saying to the younger generation don't believe it. authority invest in itself. >> c-span once you to do that. i am sorry. you are on tv and i said four letter words. >> you made some comments about trump earlier and you are active on twitter but i would like to hear more commentary here. how the threats in your book are political, what you think about
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contemporary politics. >> i blog for the new york times the presidential debate, all three of them and it hurt, it really hurt. the first two times i was sober, i was very serious, never done this before. got to take notes and by the third date i had my bottle of scotch by my elbow and it helped because basically my thinking, i don't like trump, he is very bad for our society. he does articulate and represent 40 to 45% of the american population which goes to show we have a lot of work to do. it is important to have these dialogues, important to respect people and listen to what they say but also important to struggle and make change because if you listen to people from 150 years ago we still have slavery, can't have conversations all the
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time, at a certain point we have to make a conversation the death bipartisanship, get along with our fellow citizens and have to work the change. the contrast is so bad and play accept hillary clinton. i hope she wins. i really do hope she wins but i am of the -- i am on the political spectrum that thinks hillary clinton, like president obama before her, will be very good for civil rights, human rights, domestic rights, social equality and so on. that her economic policies may not do that much redress the grievances that have angered supporters of trump and angered a good portion of democratic party and almost certain she will continue the same foreign policies we are conducting drone strikes in other countries. that is something i the domestic
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political scene in this country helps americans forget, america is a global power and what it does have global ramifications and america, the united states of america act in its own self interests when it comes to what happens overseas. the ending of the novel is about complicity and we are all complicit and that is how wars propagate. the citizenry goes along with the leadership. >> it has been a couple minutes since you said what i wanted to respond to. you said you are ambiguous about imparting your wisdom to the younger generation but i can't help but believe possibly your drive to write these stories has to do with stories you were told
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about your history. i think sometimes as the older generation we don't necessarily tell the stories of our family history is much has i was told from my parents generation and i am wondering if you felt responsibility to somehow pass along the information you were told about your history? >> absolutely right. growing up in the united states with my own family, we were refugees, and the refugee community in san jose, i was aware there stories and a lot of pain and they lost a lot. i was also aware american society as a whole did not know these stories and did not care to know these stories so when americans speak of the vietnam war they are speaking of
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america's vietnam war. americans are empathetic with americans. that is why americans will remember 50,000 american soldiers died in the vietnam war and have no idea 3 million vietnamese people died and had no idea the war was fought in cambodia and laos and 3 million more people died so i felt it was important for me to become a scholar and a writer to tell these stories, fiction and nonfiction because so much more needed to be said. after the sympathizer came out people said we have neighbors and they had no idea some of these things can happen to them. 40 years later this work is going to be done and it connects to a larger sense about what to do. i never would have become a writer simply to be a writer for
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writing. i became a writer and scholar because of the injustice and i believe storytelling and talking about stories as a scholar and critic can be acts of justice. one way to adjust this, this country and elsewhere is by erasing people from stories and using them to shape a self-serving narrative about our country and culture so it becomes an act of justice to live different stories. >> i want to challenge something you said or disagree with it. i have been a high school english teacher for 30 years. i wanted my students to be skeptical. i taught a unit of literature that included a lot of stories, vietnam and other periods of war. sent from a strange mountain at
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butler, those types of stories. i wanted my students to be skeptical but cynical too. i have to disagree with you on that because i didn't want my students to be cynical because i felt that was a dead end. one thing to be skeptical and move on or look for the truth or look to change things but cynicism was a dead end. it gets too easy. do you want to respond to that? >> i respect high school english teachers. they periodically email me and chastise me for my mistakes in grammar. these are very long emails. >> i did notice that in your book. >> i think you are right. a dose of cynicism is healthy because the dose of corruption
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exists in our society and you need cynicism to recognize the corruption and it is not simply so-called third world countries that are corrupt, we are corrupt too. our corruption works in a particular fashion that is acceptable. by your golf club memberships to power up with a senator and get a deal or whatever but you are right, you need to hold two ideas in your mind at the same time and you need to recognize corruption and be cynical and enraged about it and periodically give in, it is human, a sense of the longview and in my response too far towards one side and not the other. >> then we agree, thank you. >> i think we are done, thank you so much.
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[applause] >> thank you so much, thank you to all of you for coming tonight with we will be back outside signing books. thank you so much. the change the national book awards will be presented wednesday and four of the five nominees for nonfiction have appeared on booktv. national book award finalist heather and thompson -- heather ann thompson sits down with ta-nehisi coates to talk about it 18. [inaudible conversations] teams
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i hate the cause of the reduction of buzz but good evening. i am the director of roosevelt house and on behalf of jennifer rabb, i am delighted to welcome you to the home of franklin roosevelt and eleanor roosevelt. one of them we will be talking about, gubernatorial administrative work, new york state governor before he became president, and his wife, the conscience of the empire state just as she later became the conscience of the country and the world, never afraid to confront challenging uncomfortable issues like the one we are going to discuss this
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evening even if it meant confronting her own husband prior to the 1930s. you all know the history of this amazing space if you come regularly. a wedding gift, franklin and eleanor to his mother sarah, came to the building with one stipulation, sarah herself moved in and stayed in residence while in new york city for the next 40 years. and there were two of them, had separate doorways, one on the left for sarah, one on the east for franklin and eleanor. sarah sliced through the dining room which he will be visiting later during our reception ostensibly to make the room more accommodating for large dinner parties but as eleanor would later remember ended did the up having the run of the house and appeared on fdr, the other side
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of the house, the most unexpected time. after sarah died, jennifer always called the best real estate deal of the century, sold it for $50,000 cutting the original asking price by $10,000 and donating books to the student library. it became long served as interfaith center, and the great transformation of the 21st century began after the president raised the awareness not to mention funding armed with an ingenious plan by architect james cole check to rehabilitate and transform to the public policy institute. it is today the public policy this evening for this program. by the way for students of architecture, the space we are


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