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tv   Nothing Ever Dies  CSPAN  December 12, 2016 7:00am-8:01am EST

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when my parents brought me to my local planetarium. they dimmed the lights went out and i thought it was a hoax. there's 12 of them. it's an entertaining deception. you're not fooling me and i
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would ultimately learn that in fact, it was the sky as is actually represented in the actual universe. but, by age 11i knew enough about reading books from the library, books my parents bought me for my birthday that by age 11i had an answer, what do you want to be when you grow up. that pretty much shut them up. if you said i want to be a doctor, uncle or aunt betty is a doctor, you say astrophysicist and they walk away. to this day, i'm a little bit scared for having not known a night sky until i saw one in the hayden planetarium.
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when i go to majestic sights and i look up at the night sky i say to myself, it reminds me of the hayden planet. [laughter] [applause] >> we will see you at the year end review in january, have a good night. >> here is a lock at some of the staff picks from politics and prose bookstores in washington, d.c. olivia lang, employers the so solitary lives, the great derangement and argues climate change is being ignored.
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pulitzer price winner in the gene. another staff pick from washington, d.c.'s politics and prose bookstore is grunt by mary who reports on the science that's being used to improve the safety and effectiveness of america's military. atlantic magazine contributor shady argues, islam is essential to understanding middle eastern politics in islamic exceptionalism and in ordinarily well, psychiatrist peter looks at the science behind antidepressant medications. many of these authors have or will be appearing on book tv. you can watch them on ourct website, [inaudible conversations]
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>> it's really a tremendous pleasure to be able to introduce the next speaker. vi et thann nguyen. this is a good time to make sure 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 #wi book festival. #wibookfest. all one word. books are for sale on the other side of the wall.
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viet thannnguyen is a wonderful author.le he has pulled majorr accomplishments in both realms within basically the last yearli with another book coming, next year the two books coming out. of course, he's the professor of english in american studies and ethnicity at the university of southern california and his books not only one a pulitzer prize but the books, you read reviews and they are stunning on both of them, new york times called sympathizer a remarkable debut novel and nothing ever dies as a powerful reflection on how we chose to remember and forget. rion as i would unfortunately to read
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his blogs that he edits, but you're here viet, welcome. [applause] >> thanks, everybody, thanks for coming tonight. last year in madison in 2008 when i was here nor the entire summer actually studying for the university, studying vietnam's and i was living in undergraduate apartment. it brings me back actually on a slightly different scale. what i was doing -- the reason i was studying vietnamese is because i was working on the projects about vietnam. i was traveling to vietnam, i was doing field work there and, of course, i was writing short stories but not yet writing the sympathizer.r. i thought i would start byri reading the first paragraph or one of the first paragraphs, nothing ever dies and the memory of war.
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it'll give you a sense of who i am. i was born in vietnam but made in america. i count myself on one of those vietnam's, i also count myself on those americans often did not know what to make of vietnam and what to know what to make of it. americans as well as as many people of the world over tend to mistake vietnam honor for dishonor as the word may be. this confusion led to some of my own uncertainty of what it means to be a man of who countries as well as inheritor of two revolutions. today revolutions manufacture memories only to upset the hardening of arteries. those who have been influenced by them in some way, we have to
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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 are pretty good description of what i tried to do in the sympathizer as well and nothing ever dies is really the nonfiction sequel to the sympathizer and there are a lot of things that i couldn't say in the sympathizer because you can step out of character and nothing ever dies is a study, why do we go to war, the importance of recognizingg inhumanity as much as humanity t and what are the possibilities of peace and reconciliation and in sympathizer i try to address those questions too but in a more dramatic or fictional way and in sympathizer writing a novel i can get away in -- with
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a lot of things. that's part of the joy, the liberty of writing fiction. so sympathizer is a novel about a communist spy in the south vietnamese army in april 1975, it's about to fall or liberated depending on your point of view. he does see both perspectives and he tells you from the very first paragraph that that's his one talent. the ability to see any issue from both sides. his mission is to flee to the united states and spy under efforts to take the country which really did happen in this time period and what happens when the veitnamese refugees are put into camps. he ended up in southern california and i ended up in fort indian town gap in
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pennsylvania. the next part of the reading comes from the sympathizer when he's in that camp and he's writing a letter to his supposed aunt and he's going to tell her what life is life for these new refugees in southern california. if allowed to stay together, i told my aunt, was could have incorporated ourselves into a respectably size colony, a pimple on the but toks of politics. i think that's pretty funny, bui that's just me. of the [laughter] >> have a voice in our american. a little sigon as delightful, t dysfunctional as the original which was exactly why we wereer not allowed to stay together because were dispersed by
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bureaucratic fiat, for example, the places like madison, wisconsin. they didn't chose to come here. they'll be integrated. where ever we found ourselves, we found each other. we did our best but since we were dependent on chinese markets, we had a chinese tinge they hate chinese people. they left us with sweet and sour taste just enough to evoke the past and just long enough to remind thaws the past wasat forever gone. along with the proper variety, complexity of universe, how we
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missed it, now nothing tasted right without it. the liquid of the darkest was much by foreigners horrendous and we were the fishy ones. [laughter] >> in our case establish a perimeter with westerners who could never understand what was truly fishy was the nauseateinga cheese. i guess i should say cheese kurds. [laughter] >> they are very kind in some ways, they delivered a plait ofv food to my door when i got there and, of course, there was cheese.
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what was formed fish compared to curdled milk? we kept our feelings to ourselves sitting close to one another on prickly sofas and chewing on squid in the cud of remembrance until our jaws ached. this was the we learn that had the plan turned into slave farmer in modesto. the widower with nine children who went out to minnesotan winter and regretful refugees on guam who petition to go back to vietnam never to be heard from again and the girls seduced by heroin and buddhist who spanked the young son and arrested for child abuse in houston and the husband who slapped his wife and
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was jailed for domestic violence in raleigh and the men who would have escaped but left wives behind in the chaos and the women who had escaped and left husbands behind and the children who had escaped without parents and grandparents and the families missing one, two, three, or more children. sitting through the dirt, the mechanic who bought a lottery ticket in arlington and became a multimillionaire or the girlon elected president or the boyl elected from harvard, still in the tracks of the sneakers or the movie star you love so much who circled the world from airport to airport. no country letting her in after the fall and none of movie star friends returning phone calls until with her last dime shean v
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snagged. it was that we sat ourselves in saddens and rinsed ourselves with hope and for all that we believed almost every rumor we heard, almost all of us refuse to believe that our nation was dead. the story is true, the movie star was famous movie star in vietnam and you might have seen her in the joy luck club. it took so much pity on the vietnam people that she met and thought it would be a great idea to take a personal manicurist and taught them how to manicure and now we own 50% of the nail salon in the history. on the other hand, it could end up on trump campaign ad. [laughter] >> i'm in madison, right?
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he has to make a living, our narrater. he goes to los angeles and becomes to authenticity consultant on the making of a movie about -- that's going to be epic in vietnam and shot in philippines and this is made up in my imagination and he's giving director some notes as we call them in hollywood and the director is only noun -- known as the otour. pointing out that the lack of speaking parts for vietnamese-speaking people for a movie set in vietnam might be cultural insensitivity. do you not think it would be
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more realistic, authentic, maybe for the people in the country to have something to say instead of having screen play direct as it has now cut the villagers speaking in their own language, do you think it might not be decent for them to say something instead of simply acknowledgingh that there's some kind of sound coming from their mouth, could you not have them speak heavily accent english, ching-chong english, american audience can understand?and. [laughter] >> and said very interesting, great stuff, loved it, but i had a question, what was it?
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oh, yes. how many movies have you made? none, zero, zilch, nada, nothing, however you say it in your language. thank you for telling me how to do my job and get the hell out of my house and come back when you have made a movie or two, maybe then i will listen to one of your two cheap ideas.e i confessed to be angry but was i wrong? a french catch-all term. the movie is called the hamlet, green berets who are defending in hamlet from the veitcon who have known as king kong because they are so bad.
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what i said to him, i wrote a screen play about the american west and simply caught all the natives indians. you want to know whether the navajo, comanche, let me tell you a secret. you ready? here it is. no one gives a shit. he was amused by my wordlessness. to see me without words is like seeing one of those egyptian sea lions without hair. how can it be so dense, how can i be deluded.
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hollywood did not just make horror movie monsters, it was his own horror movie monster smashing me under its foot. i had failed. epic about white men from good yellow people from bad yellow i pity the french, hollywood, was much more efficient. [laughter] >> inventing the country they wanted to exploit. i was maddened by my helplessness. has arrogance marked something new in the world for this was the first war where the losers would write history instead of the vĂ­ctors courtesy of the most propaganda machine ever created, with all due respect to joseph and the nazis who never achieved global domination.
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madison, right? it was better to rule in heaven than to serve heaven, better than loser or antihero than extra so long as one commanded the bright lights of center stage. in all the vietnamese would come out. our fate was not to be merely mute.. we were to be struck dumb. i had several meetings wither hollywood people. i've asked him if you're offended by the characterization? they said, no, there you go. [laughter] >> seems to be accurate. all right. so if you know anything about southern vietnamese people, you
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know that we love to sing, to drink and to dance. so soon after arriving as pooron refugees in southern californiaw and getting out of the refugee camp and get to go los angeles, one of the first things that my people did was to open a nightclub. true story.. that nightclub became the paris of paris by night, which is a song and dance which is now 130 iterations shot in paris, las vegas where the vait -- vietnamese sing and dance. these things were being snuggled in vietnam. encounters the one woman he should not fall in love with, the daughter of his general. there you go.
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john paul george ringo and mary because i'm a screwed up catholic lana stepped on stage, leopard-print min skirt andloves thigh-high boots. naked in between mini skirt andh i [laughter] >> they don't laugh about that in los angeles. it's a little too close to reality. she turned on the heat with her first number, the unexpected i'd love you to want me. most people think most americans think i'm referring to i wantne you to want me but that's not
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the case. if you're a vietnamese person who knew who this person was and i had heard this before some only by men. i love you to want me was a song of the bachelors of unhappily married males of my generation whether in english original or superb french and vietnameselisr renditions. we men of the south love nothing more than unrequited love. after cigarettes, coffee and conac. all i wanted a night to remember forever. every man in the room shared my emotion as we watched, her voice enough to move the audience or rather to steal us. nobody talked and nobody stirred
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except to raise a cigarette or a glass and concentration not broken for her next slightly more upbeat number, bang, bang, my baby shot me down.t me [laughter] >> the last line of the french version echoed the vietnamese version, we will never forget. in the pop song, the rendition was one of the most memorable. masterfully love and violence in the story of 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 pistol firing into our heads. for weak not forget love, weak not forget war, we cannot forget enemies, we cannot forget homet
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and we cannot forget the caramel flavor of ice coffee with sugar, bowls of needle soup while squadding, the whisper of a lover saying the most seductive words in our language. the working men who slept on the streets, kept warm only by theve memories of their families. the refugees who leapt -- slept on every sidewalk of every city and mango plucked fresh from the tree and the girls talked us and the men died and disappeared. the streets blown away from bomb shells, the innocence of the birds, candle light on the walls of waddled huts and abandoned village, the wreak, the sight and sound of orphans howling by
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the bodies of their mothers and fathers. the list can go on and on. the point was simply, this most important thing we could never forget was that we could never forget. i'm going to end with a couple of paragraphs from the very end that nothing ever it's a narrative, it's a nonfiction critical work but also a narrative that's partially about my life and my family and this is how i end it. remember and forgetting together making us who we are, one never without the other. i like to remember but so much has been forgotten or silenced. my own personal memory is faulty. through my youth i had a memory of soldiers from our boat to
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another boat as we floated on the south china sea. i was 4. my brother is 7 year's older says the shooting never happened. as an adult i remember my mother being hospitalized when i was a child. i discovered a memoir that i had written in college. i read in my own words as she was in the hospital at that time not years before. her illness in that strange with patients had made me feel like i was a frightened child. that feeling is what i remember. as for my father it's pointless to ask him about the past. his relationship to the past is to muffle it at least in my presence. although i visited his homeland i have never visited my own origin, the town where i was born because he has forbidden it. he has said to me, you can never go back there. too many people will remember him and persecute me and so he believes.
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i think of what the cartoons said of his father who survived the holocaust, i hadn't a clue as to how to find the place my father told me he grew up in and it wasn't much help except to tell us not to go at all because they kill jews there. they kill jews there, don't go. he was afraid for us. my own believe in memories that do not die. and while i disobeyed my father in many things, i cannot in this one thing. but it's too strong. what is it that he remembers of this place? what has he not told me? what if he's right? it's the opposite of memory.
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perhaps some things may never be remembered and yet also neverrth forgotten. perhaps some things will remain unspoken, perhaps i will only visit where i was born after my father has passed on, then it will be too late to see what it is that he remembers, memory having expired. this is the paradox of the past of trauma, of loss, of war, a true war where there's no ending but the unknown, no conversation except that which cannot be finished. i think back to my father's father and what happens to his remains. the vietnamese think a person should be buried twice.
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i think people in many -- in both countries have forgotten or tried to forget and that is problematic. you can try to forget. it's goal to come back at you, and likewise the history of war, too so we look back on our own civil war, that was over 150 years ago. i don't know if we have forgoning and the leg georgias of the war entrenched in our society, and 0 feelings and structures and systems. so when comes to the vietnam war the americans have not reconciled with the past. they tried to rewrite the past. gone from bag bad war to being a not so bad war. maybe a good war. eh.
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now the narrative, bipartisan narrative, democrats and republicans and president obama, too, this was failed war -- sorry, we lost but we tried our best with the best of intentions, noble exemptions, and we should remember our soldiers because they fought for freedom and for each other. that's literally what is president obama said. and this kind of narrative is being used, increasingly dominant in popular culture and politics and government, state department, it's really strong. i go to washington, dc and given talks there, and sat next to an american ambassador. the american policy people really do believe in northwestern exceptionalism. they do -- american exceptionalism, and they do. and the practical impact of that n't to >> we can do this better. we can learn from our mistakes, and we can do better
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tourists and veterans go back and they're awestruck by the fact that vietnamese people welcome them with open ares, including veterans. went backive a gentleman of your age, not a veteran, favor. we did tour together. went to what they call martyr cemetery where the soldiers are buried he was taking pictures and a family was there celebrating debt -- death day. they have alcohol. and vietnamese people like to drink and they said, come and have a shot with us. let's make peace. they ignored me. and that tells you something so americans, welcome back because the vietnamese people, generally, and the state have reconciled with americans. they want your money, okay? don't be naive. but also genuine friendship. but if you're a vietnamese
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american overseas who fled the country and come back, it's much more problematic. it's like the civil war. war between brothers and sisters. we have not forgotten that. and that's what it is like there as well. >> in the back? >> there's a mic. you're supposed to go up there. >> so that mean if you have a question, try to line up. >> you teach writing. >> i don't teach writing. >> you don't. >> no. >> question is, what do you do? an individual relationship with every student 0 universal lessons you preach? >> the thing is that writing -- talking about fiction writing or nonfiction writing in the country is taught through the
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wright walk shawn mod which is a professor and writing students and you read their work and the writing students criticize that piece of work. i think this is a model of the blind leading the blind. and in the end of the sympathizer i have a little joke in there where one thing that happens in reeducation camps, chinese or vietnamese, if you're a prisoner you're forced to constantly write your confession. and then you have to self-criticize. and everyone listens to your confession and criticize is you. thought this is similar to a writerring walk shawn. --shop. and the i'm not making this up. there's a book out there called "work sho of emother fire" which argues that perhaps the cia had a hand in the development of the writing walkshop. serious.
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the cia had a hand in promoting modernist art in europe because it exemplifies the possibilities of freedom and democracy. in other words, you should be paranoid. so, if i were to teach -- i don't like writing workshops. i -- if i were to teach writing it would be in the context of a larger goal itch don't like the writing model in the u.s. writing workshop. i think it's an apolitical form of politicizing distribution. in the writing workshop you're taught technique like character, narration, time, setting. for me, i was interested in history and politics. no one taught me how to write about history and politics. took me 20 years to right "the sympathizer" because there's no streaks how to deal with these things. so in other words, that's why i think it's an apolitical form of instruction that believes you can separate technique from the
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history in which technique is developed. some when teach writing i teach in the context of theory and criticism. students can write and we read criticism and theory, and i argue that you really need to think of yourself not simply as one who will tell a story but someone who has a point that they want to make, give you're not that kind of a writer i'm not that interested because i find a lot of professors teach those kind of write whore only want to tell stories. so hopefully that answers your question. >> there is a book you recommend? on writing? >> stephen king is pretty good. seriously. >> with a couple of the books i've read about vietnam and the war there some of the people, one of them he channeled both his father who fought with the south, the south army, and channeled his own personal experience. is there any person or any individual with which you drew
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inspiration for your characters in "sympathizer." >> you're talking about andrew's book. the -- >> um, the one where the ashes are. >> that's -- i'm friends with him, too. great book. great books. >> i thought it was -- >> when i was writing this book i had a short list of novels that were important to me. the most important one actually was -- a novel and an author that whenever i talk about him no one has heard of this man except for a polish journalist who came to interview me. antonio -- and the portuguese think he should have won the noble nobel prize and the book is called "the land at the end of the world." he was a medic who fought in the portuguese war in angola. their vietnam war. and i was
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deeply influenced by the tone. a novel about being soaked in melancholy and sorrow and i was influenced by the style. it's a short novel but i can only read two or three pages at a time because it's so dense, like poetry. and i wanted to to proximate mate nat my own writing so i would read two of three pages of newscast it started writing. when i started to feel really excited could i sit down and right. so i was channeling him but i'm not as good. this is one reason why the prose in the book -- it's dense. it's dense with images, very attentive to language and word play, and that was one of the reasons why that particular book. >> thank you. >> thanks. >> what a privilege to hear you
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read and speak. so my question is really about wanting to hear more about your views on how traumatic events in history should be commemorated or not, and this comes from, as you know, the discussion on a lot of campuses, including mine, where there's a discussion on who should be recognized and what lens we should use, the lens of today, the lobes of then to figure out what should be remembered and what should be forgotten. so i'm just curious to hear, given that you thought so much about this, what your views are. >> thank you. i'll give you a good example and a bad example. the good example, one of the very rarest of memorials is the okinawaian peace memorial. basically in okinawa there was a huge battle fought during worm
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war 2 some something like 200,000 people died, japanese and american soldiers and civilians living on the island and it's a beautiful memorial and it commemorates every single person. you very rarely encounter memorials are monuments to war that remember more than one side, and the reason is obvious women want tomorrow our on side and what happened to us and screw the other guy. these are our enemies. we don't need to remember them. so memorials and monuments always, always, always, help to us remember and forget at the same time. remember our humanity and forth that be humanity of the other side. a negative example. so, bob kerry, former senator bob kerry, presidential candidate bob kerry, was forced to confess in the early '90s because he was navy seal in the vietnam war. he was forced to confess bus "the new york times" was going to report on thissents dent and he owned up to it that he led other team into a village in south vroom and the killed 20
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unarmed women and children and old people. this really happened. not a matter of dispute. and recently the harvard university wants to start up the first private american university in vietnam called fulbright university in vietnam, and bob kerry was the person they selected to be the head of the board of trustees. and the way it was pitched was that this is a gesture of reconciliation. look at this poor guy, he suffered, yes, he might have been responsible for this, but wouldn't it by great if he came came back and was the head hoff she is jess cure of peace and reconciliation in terms of a university. and deep live divide the vietnamese people. some people said, yes, that is reconciliation, some people said, no, that's not reconciliation. read an op-ed in "the new york times" and said if this happened this is would actual reb come sillation. first he should to the village
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and apologize to survivors. give these people scholarships to the university. it's important have bob kerr glass chairman of the board of trustees for your university you want to reconcile with the past and what he did but a monument on the university to the people who died. never will happen. so five recommendations altogether, never heard back. and nothing ever died. i argue basically that it's universal that we want to remember our own humanity and forget the humanity of others and if we're good liberal wisdom want too remember our humanity the humanity of others. for h the most difficult thing to do and thing that could actually move us towards peace and reconciliation is to remember our humanity, and our inhumanity. this is what makes us human beings. we like to think, war is savage, war brutal, but why do we keep on fighting wars over and over? we say war is hell but every generation we fight wars or multiple times in one generation, is the case now, and
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he reason why is because we don't believe we can be inhuman. so, for example, drone strikes. from the american perspective this ahumane operation. who would disagree with getting a drone like we didn't carpet bomb you, right? you should appreciate that. but in the perspective of getting hilt bay drone strike, no, no, no. right now we're doing drone strikes in seven different countries and this is not a state of war for us, if one put a drone strike on the u.s. territory that would be immediately a state of war. this kind of thinking that is propagated by thinking here tsunami their inhuman. very difficult to think of ourselves as human and inhuman at the time if we could do that and acknowledge it's not simply other people that do terrible things but our side does, too, our family members, too, our country has done this and not just america. all country us. vietnam. vietnam can't acknowledge this either.
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>> so, i have -- i'm reading it and what i noticed at first is really funny. i kind of like -- it's like a thriller at as well, especially the early >> about how that kind of plays together? because it's a little unique, you know? >> yeah. well, i wanted to write a serious novel but, you know,er serious novels are boring. i'm a professor of english. i read boring books for a living, okay?? [laughter] and i acknowledge a lot of things we call serious literature can be boring, but i also am a fan of so-called genre literature. i'm a firm believer in we have literary fiction, that's not a genre, but if you read enough literary fiction, you realize it is a genre because it's really
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boring. and there's all kinds ofal aesthetic things this genre's supposed to do. if you read explicitly described genre fiction, thrillers, science fiction, fantasy, romance novels, you realize that the best of these books aret better than the average of literary fiction. and they're very entertaining. i don't read these books anymore because if i did, i'd literally be up all night reading them. i have to stop myself from reading these books. and and it's actually more political than literary fiction. and i think that's because b there's no -- again, going back to the idea that the writing workshop propagates a certain kind of set-aside literary fiction, one way for that to happen is to remove politics. and in science fiction, for example, i just read 20 years later red mars by ken stanley robinson, it's a great novel.
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and that book is a full-blown political manifesto about what it would mean to rebuild human civilization on another planet and how it is we're going to fuck that up anyway, okay? [laughter] it's a really interesting book and much better than most of the literary books i've read this year.he so i wanted to write a seriouser book that was also entertaining. there's certain writers, graham greene of that have done that too, and that was part of the genealogy i wanted to see myself fitting into it. was very explicit. i knew it was going to be a spy novel. what i didn't know was it could be funny. i read catch 22, loved it, journey to the end of the night, thought that was pretty funny. so i created this character and started writing in his voice, and basically the narrator of the novel is an alcoholic, he's a womanizer, he is half vietnamese and half -- [inaudible]
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so everybody calls him a bastard, and he's internalized that. he's torn-up, he's ambivalent, and he's sarcastic. he's very smart or he thinks he's smart, and then we discover he's too smart for his own good. the reason why is because, you know, there's a lot of things that are funny in our world, we just have learned not to laugh at them because we've grown up, we've become adults, we've become normalized to our culture. and he's someone who he's half drunk and bitter and cynical and full of himself is able to see these hypocrisy and absurdities and to call them out. and hopefully that's why. >> hi. i feel like i read this book and i actually learned a lot about
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the vietnam war, which i didn't learn in school. i was wondering if there was a message or idea that you had for the younger generation that might be reading this book. >> your making -- you are making me feel old. [laughter] you know, i'm not -- i don't like piety. that's why i never thought of an answer to that question. who cares what i think passing on to the younger generation. there are difference things, part of what i've already said, refuse to believe absurdities, hypocrisies. you know, when you hear presidents speak, even if you like them, you you know they're full of whatever it is cows produce here in wisconsin. be cynical, be sarcastic, be professor.rcastic. i'm a professor, and i'm saying to the younger generation don't believe it.
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part of what the novel does is to debunk that authority. >> i believe c-span wants you to do that, yeah.. yeah. oh, yes, i'm sorry. you're on tv, and i've, like, said four-letter words. i don't know what's going to happen -- >> so you made some comments about trump earlier, and i know you're pretty active on twitter. i'd like to hear some more commentary, if you're willing to -- [laughter] maybe how some of the threads in your book are political or what you think about contemporary politics. >> wow. you know, i blogged for "the ned york times," the presidentialhu debate, and it hurt i. really, really hurt. the first two times i was very serious.s. gotta take notes, and then byy the third debate i had my with e of scotch by my elbow, and and it helped.
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basically, my thinking is, obviously, i don't like trump, obviously, i think he's very bad. for our society. but you know, he does articulate and represent something like 40-45% of the american population which dose to show that -- which goes to show that we have a lot of work to do. and it's, i think it's important to have these dialogues, important to have these conversations, important toto respect people and listen to what they say.y. i believe in all that. but it's also important to struggle and make change, because be we listen to people from 150 years ago, we can't have conversations all the time. yes, bipartisanship, yes, getwi along with our fellow citizens. we also have to work for change. my great fear is that now the t contrast is so bad that, you know, people will simply accept hillary clinton. i hope she wins, i really do hope she but i'm of the political -- i'm
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on the political spectrum that the thinks that hillary clinton, like president obama before her, will probably be very good for civil rights, human rights, domestic rights, social equality and so on. but her economic policies may not do that much to redress the deep-seated grievances that have anger ored supporters of trumppp and a good portion of the democratic party. and i'm almost certain that she'll continue the same kinds of foreign policies that we're conducting drone strikes in seven countries. and that's something that, i think, you know, the domestic political scene in this country really helps americans forget, is that america's a global power, and what it does has global ramifications. and america, the united states of america acts in its own self-interests when it comes to what's happening overseas. and the ending of the novel isbo
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about only policety, and we're all -- complicity, and we're all complicit. and that's how wars prop a gate. is citizenry goes along with the leadership. >> it's been a couple minutes since you said what i wanted to pond to. respond to. i'll paraphrase. you said you're a little ambiguous about imparting your wisdom to the younger generation, but i can't help but believe that possibly some of your drive to write these stories has to do with the stories you were told about your history. and, you know, i think that sometimes as the olderr generation we don't necessarily tell the stories of our families' histories as much as maybe i was told the from my parents' generation, and i'm wondering whether or not you felt a responsibility to somehow
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pass along the information that you were told about your history. >> yeah. and that's absolutely right.y i think that growing up in the united states with my own family who were refugees with, beinge from a refuture gee committee in san jose, i was deeply aware they had a lott of stories, they had a lot of pain, and they had lost a lot x. i was also aware that american society as a whole did not know these stories and did not care to know these stories. and so when americans speak of the vietnam war, they are really speaking of america's vietnam war. americans on the whole are empathetic with americans. and so that's why, you know, americans will remember the vietnam war and have no idea that 3 million people vietnamese people died and have no idea that the war was fought in laos
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and cambodia and three million more miami died in those countries. so i felt it was important for know become a scholar and a writer who could tell these kind of stories in fiction and nonfiction because so much more needed to be said, and even after the sympathizer came out people would say to me, we had these neighbors and we had no idea that some of these things had happened to them. so even 40 years later this work still needs to be done. and its connects to a larger sense i have about what writing can do. i never would have become a writer simply to be a writer for writing's sake. became a writer and scholar because i believe justice and i believe that story-telling and talking about stories as a scholar and critic can be acts of justice because one way we commit injustice anywhere, this country elsewhere, is by erasing people from stories and by using stores to shape a very self-serving narrative about our
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country and our culture, whatever that happens to be. so then it becomes an act of justice to tell different kinds of stories and that's why i hope i can do. >> i think i want to challenge something you said or disagree with it. i was a high school english teach ever for a 30 years, and i taught -- wanted my students to be skeptical. i taught a unit, i used to cull literature war, and then that included a lot of stories about vietnam and other periods of war. good sin from a strange mountain, by butler. those types of stories. and so i wanted my students to be skeptical but you said cynical, too, and i have to disagree with you on that because i didn't want misstudents to be cynical because i thought that was a dead end. it's oning there to be skeptical and move on or look for the truth or to look to change
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things, but cynicism was a dead end because it's too easy. so you -- i'll give you a chance to respond to that. >> i respect high school english teachers. maybe you can e-mail me -- >> i'm retired now. >> -- on my grammar. what did you say? they periodically e-mail me and chastise me for my mistakes in grammar. these are very long e-mails. >> i did notice that in your book. >> not all english teachers. you're right i. think you're right itch think a dose of cynicism is healthy because a dose of corruption exists in our society, and you need the cynicism to recognize the corruption, and that it's not simply so-called third-world countries that are corrupt, we're corrupt, too, except our corruption works in a particular fashion so it's acceptable. you buy your golf club membership so you can pal up to the senator and get your deal, whatever. but you're right.
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think you need to be able to hold two ideas in your mind at the same time, and you need to be able to recognize corruption and injustice and be cynical and enraged about it and periodically given to despair. that's human. and you need to have a sense of justice and hope and a sense of the long view. and in my response, i was tilting too far towards one side and not the other. so thank you, sir. >> we agree, then. it's a great book. >> we're done, right? thank you so much. [applause] >> thank you so much. >> thank you to viet, thank you for all of you for coming tonight. we will be back in half an hour. viet will be outside signingbo books, and books are for sale.
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thank you so much. [inaudible conversations] >> you're watching booktv on c-span2 with top nonfiction books and authors every weekend. booktv, television for serious readers. >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> host: and craig sillyman iscounsel and executive vice president of the verizon corporation. mr. sillyman, what does that mean? what does that entail? >> guest: i have responsibility for our public policy and security functions. >> host: describe verizon ooze a business -- verizon as a business today. what are some of the entities


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