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tv   Discussion on Memoir  CSPAN  April 28, 2019 4:36pm-5:54pm EDT

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>> thank you to everybody for coming and talking about their neighborhoods and asking questions. [applause] thank you all. [applause] >> the final program of the day from the tennessee williams literary festival is a discussion on the craft of writing a memoir. >> good afternoon, welcome to the 33rd annual tennessee williams literary festival into this panel and memory, everything seems to happen to music, the craft of memoir. please turn off your cell phones, you know how annoying that can be. the box office, info desk,
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merchandise and most importantly books, are available out in the hallway so you can probably get your favorite author to send them. our moderator today is and and when she was on a panel yesterday all of her students were in attendance yesterday so today maybe we can get the real dirt. [laughter] so thank you. >> hi, thanks so much, can everyone hear me okay? we were having mike issues, thanks much for coming out this afternoon and thank you for the festival for putting this panel together inviting us all. it is an honor to do this and i love moderating these panels because it gets opportunity to read all these books and spend time with these great minds and lives of these writers and it
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was really a pressure and an honor. thank you so much for coming out. i want to do a quick introduction for everybody. and asked them to introduce their books after i do the bios for the question. and we will talk, and have a conversation for about an hour and there will be 15 minutes of questions at the end. if anything comes up as we are talking feel free to ask questions at the end. to my rights is bev marshall who is a veteran of these festivals. she is the author of walking through shadows, hot fudge sundae blues and shared words, a guide for writers book clubs. she's a porter writer and resident at louisiana university in a long time festival person to spit. she is currently recording stories of the lives of vietnam veterans. and she will talk a little bit more about the project. and next to beth we have tina clark, she has her first
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picture. and in the heat of it right now, she has written award-winning songs contributed to multiplatinum tracks like hope floats, where the hardest and my best friend's wedding. and television shows such as desperate housewives and is the ceo of chief creative officer for your media solutions she is also a civil rights activist and crusader for women's rights including writing and producing the same song and movement and violence against women and girls in a courser book is a memoir. can i say, you just became a grandmother? a couple days ago, like two days ago. she is also in baby land. and next to tina is kathy mccann she was a 19-year-old irish immigrant who arrived in new york city when jackie kennedy
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hired her as a personal assistant in 1964, nine months after jfk's assassination. she became a trusted employee helping to raise john on 1040 fifth avenue, who for five decades she never spoke publicly of her experience but now she has written a memoir, jackie's girl my life with the kennedy family and i hear she has a smashing station yesterday with the interview regarding her book, we would like to welcome her as well. and finally, can wells, i think a snuck onto the memoir panel as well. he grew up in louisiana fishing, wrinklinwrinkling and grip on hs mother's gumbo. then he went on to a journalism career that included 24 years with the wall street journal. it is springtime he had 12 wall street novels. it i his third book of narrative nonfiction. the book is described as
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narrative nonfiction but it has the memoir will been throughout. if we can welcome everybody to the panel. thank you so much. [applause] all of these books are really, really different and they all have kind of a different angle in different time frames the derelict intern working in. and most are specifically situated around something very specifically. or the years that kathy was working with the kennedy family. but in almost all of them a lot of time has passed, sometimes decades have passed. and my question was, maybe we could talk about what it was for deciding the stories that needed to be told at this moment. like why at this moment did you decide, what made you decide that the book needed to be written now after so much time have been passed? >> i decided to write my book because i'm getting older and he
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never wrote down any notes, i had it all in my mind when i was writing my book about. i did a program with a book report with my granddaughter but she was in fourth grade at this time and it was about president kennedy, and i give them beautiful pictures, and they did a good job on the report. and she'd but to school and the teacher said who helped you with this, this is unbelievable. and the teacher gave her an a+ for. and when the first shipment of books came to my house, to my daughter's house my other grandson was in second grade, and he came over and he said, grandma, do you think i have one of those books from a teacher. and he said don't tell my brother and sister i'm getting one, and will you autograph it for me. so we opened it up and he pushed
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the book and said don't tell mommy either i asked you. he wanted to show his teacher who his grandmother was and who she worked for. and that is when i decided my oldest granddaughter said, grandma, i think it's fin time r you to tell people the story. they will love it. my older son pulled over too, it took me three years to do it and i am so happy i did it. [applause] >> i'm a reluctant member is, back during the vietnam years i knew two wives, one who is an mia and one that was also known as a y, their start was quite remarkable. so i wrote an essay about the story and i read it here at the festival. and it happened at the time
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robert butler's wife at the time was on my panel and i read the essay, so after we left the panel to go sign books robert owen butler came up to me and said i am so glad you are writing about this. and i thought, oh no, i am not writing that. i'm a fiction writer, i'm not going to write about my story. but it hunted me because he made it sound like i needed to do this and nobody has been doing this and you need to do it. like us am not a memoirist so i was really reluctant. then i'm in contact with some of the wife's that i knew way back
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in vietnam, and one of them is my daughter's godmother, and she said bev, i don't know how to write, you do. why don't you tell her stories i want my story told. so then i felt guilty that i was not doing this. so i began and i cannot begin how many years mine was, but it went through -- we can talk about that another question. but finally i saw that it was something that i had to do. i felt impelled to do and i began. so that was really it. i still don't think of myself as a memoirist but i guess i am.
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[laughter] >> i never thought of it like this but the accidental tourist, i think i'm the accidental author. about 20 years ago or so i was producing an artist in philadelphia for capital records, and my father was still alive at the time and i was on the phone with him and he was very famous for gas lighting if you all know what that means. and nothing was ever what it seemed and you didn't see what you saw, he didn't hear what you heard, nothing. it never happened. and i know in the south it is everywhere but there is a lot of pretending. whatever it was that night, i just hung up the phone, i was so angry and i thought, i didn't
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even have a notepad with me, but i'm going to hit my recorder that he used to write songs with and i'm going to tell my story because i didn't do it for anybody. for myself. because i never thought about writing a book or movie or anything about it, i just wanted it. so one day, when i was older i can look back and realize i was not crazy, when i would remember the stop. so about eight hours later i stopped talking and when i had it transcribed when i got back to l.a. it was over a hundred pages, singlespaced and so at the time the person who had transcribed it work through my attorney and he said, do you mind if i read what she is typing because she is crying and laughing and crying and laughing. [laughter] and i said sure, and he said what is it, and i said it's my
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story. and he call me back the next day and said, can you go see david, this is a movie. so i went over to the head of development and everything started happening really fast. when i got the first transcript back so to speak it was a rough draft i took it to my mother she was alive then. she i said we read this and she said if you like it and if it's okay with you. so i gave her the first 100 pages and she started crying she said i love this and it's great but will you wait till i pass. and i said, yes, ma'am. so go back to l.a. and i tell people that and they weren't going to ask matt, what were they going to say, but every year the one unto the woman that was ahead of development would
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call me and say, tina, she would talk small talk and then to say, how's your mama. [laughter] and i would say mom is fine, and that's about after two years, the third year she would call and i'd say no need for small talk, mom is fine. then my mom passed his for about 15 years and i never even picked it back up again because i just thought that was then this is now, so i went to a mentor and a friend of mine and i said would you read these 100 pages and i said let's find a screenplay writer and he looked at me and he said i want to do this movie with you but you have to read a book first. and i said, i don't want to write about, i don't know how to read a book, i was like a kid arguing with her father. and he said go, go read a book. to lacerated.
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so i took norman's advice and i wrote my first book called southern discomfort. >> when i was nine years old my daughter from arkansas came down here and there was his place in louisiana. one of the first neighborhoods we met was alligator andy and the first time i saw her she had 14 stinks around her neck. she was a snake trader in wrangler and all kinds of things. and she was not that unusual. in a different speaking place, it took me a while to observe this it is been 24 years in the wall street journal and one day i was in new york and i realized i was only person who knew how to skin a squirrel.
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[laughter] in the entire newsroom. [laughter] >> shocking. so part of the reason i put this book off so long was that i had a day job, and why i wrote five novels on the train back and forth, and never had to quit my day job, it's much harder to do. finally three and half years ago when i decided to hang it up i got an offer to do the gumbo book, i decided, another part of this, the book is basically using ways to explain and explore our unique culture here. and there are a lot of old people are fixated on these old ways. and i realize if i did not tell the story, do you know where the
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pool goose, basically you, but nobody could to accept occasions. and then make a gumbo called this. and i know about this in my youth. and people still do that, and i was able to find a little pocket of 80 -year-olds who still cook this gumbo and one of the rationales is that the catholic church actually declares at seafood. [laughter] it is got to be the only bourbon all of the world who says the sensation from the catholic church because you seafood supinated on friday and during lent. [applause] so i figured if i didn't get the stories nobody else will. >> no catholic reaching there.
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>> thank you. can we talk the bout the very beginning of the book, like the entry points for the book, two of them involved the jfk assassination. jackie's girl begins with the question of where your resident, where were you when jfk was assassinated, and the assassination has been golden with a lot of other trauma happening. your birthday in her mother's leaving and all that. and of course, the gumbo childhood, the making of the first gumbo and then your husband leaving for work, the opening lines, your husband is going to work. if you often talk about why you started with that moment as an entry point for your book? >> well i did that and the first in six drops off mark i told everything. and i started way back in high
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school when i met my vietnam that and i was 15. and i told also to things before he ever went to war and that i should not have told. as a matter of fact, one of my friend to read the draft, she now read the final version she said, i am so glad you caught all that because you made your husband sound like such a prick. [laughter] and i was like sorry honey, i did not mean to. [laughter] but i make myself sound worse. so anyway, i finally realized that i was writing about the war, not my marriage as though it is involved in the book of course. so i thought, well i need to cut all this pre-out and i suppose some of that in different places that would lead into the story
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so you did have an idea that the fact that i married a lawyer to be and he came home after we had been married about six weeks and he said guess what i did i joined the air force to be a pilot. and i went what, you have never been in a plane. i have, but you have not. and he said, is vietnam, and you're going to have to go anyway. and he said they make $100 more a month. and we are poor, so those kinds of stories weave in but i realize that the best thing was, he finished pilot school and we are on our way for him to train and we had six weeks, to be together before he was going to leave for a year. and i realized that was a place
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to start because the story was about vietnam and all those people who had six weeks before their husbands went for their brothers, or sons. and it was a fast thing, you want to be with them and we did not have much money and he had to train in nashville and we were in california -- i mean texas. and so we script enough together for me to it go and so for the first chapter is about the horrible time we had trying to find somewhere to live that we could afford in a realized that was the beginning of a military wife because nobody wanted us wherever we went because we were so transient.
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and so i realize, that is what the wise will understand that i hope will read this book because they have all been through. and not just military people but a lot of people like all companies they get transferred, but they have the same eggs that we did when her husband have to be gone, the old shore workers. i realize that was better to begin. >> i guess i started on my tenth birthday when my mother left because in that year it just seemed every road was externally and internally trauma and trauma filled. the outside world was drama and trauma and so was inside our house and coming from one of the wealthiest families in mississippi and the father who
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basically on the town where i grew up in was very politically involved in mississippi, nothing was like it seemed on outside so when that pinnacle in my life, i felt like that happened on my tenth birthday. it seemed like it first you into the moment of what was happening during that time. in 1963. >> we were getting ready for dance in the village. and we always stop at the shop to have some gum but we had to walk about a mile. and the lady in the shop says, i have to tell you girls, there is
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no dance tonight, because president kennedy was killed and she said yeah, just go home and pray for him. and that's when that became a very large black and white picture in the newspaper it was like the new york times, it was epic. and my mom carted ou cut it outn a frame and hung it we apply and she always hung pictures very high so nobody would steal them. [laughter] and she took down the pups picture into president kennedy in where the pope was she put the pope on the other side and the sacred heart and it was clicking all the time.
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then, when my father went to check the radio, because the radio that we had, he took it home from england, but it was the charger, and you had to take it into town once a week to get all charged up. so when my father went to put it in to turner on to go we went to the shop again and she said please all come to the kitchen and it was president kennedy's funeral . . .
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>> well, first of all -- [laughter] >> somewhat matches the description. >> the progress, the progress, you know, i realized that i am
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the person who kept the dairies, i'm the person that got my father, i'm the person who kept the photographs, i'm the person -- i realized i could tell a story no one would. the other interesting part which came to me as i was doing this, there was tension in my family because my father, my mother was catholic, he wants marry a gumbo-cooking family. he goes cajun farm, goes to the
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house and hang out. they decide today get married because my father was going back to the front and invade japan. my mother's family, not marry him, you could not mary outside of church. they were married by the baptist they boycotted the wedding. part of the book, gumbo as part of the solution to that, you'll have to read the book but the fun thing is that really happened, my father and mother were coming to new orleans, like a 2-hour drive to their home and they never even knew, they checked into cheap hotel. they couldn't wait.
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[laughter] >> new orleans is too far away. [laughter] >> let's go. i'm pretty sure that my older brother -- [laughter] >> she goes and says, it's over. it's all over. >> yeah, going off of that, i guess not surprising in terms of food louisiana culture but big role in your book throughout and all these books families with big thing. how is writing about your family changed the way that you think about your family?
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or as it at all? >> well, really it didn't change my views of why my parents and my relatives because i was mature and i had worked through how i felt about them. i guess the main relationship that changed was mine and my husband's. we were close, not always but most of the years we've been very close but i've always been, we work alone and he was kind of a nuance at times because we had -- i'm all into it. did you charge $55 at dillard's. [laughter] so, you know, that was sort of
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our relationship but, you know, we had our roles. i had mine and he had his, we kept that separate and we enjoyed our time together. we had bloody mary sunday every sunday and ritual at night and we have all been very close. all of a sudden i needed his help. i needed him to help me which i had never needed. the first book i wrote, walking through shadows he would not read even and i followed him all over the house. please read this. he would go no, no, i'm not going to read it because he was scared it was bad and turned out happily it wasn't. but any way, all of a sudden i needed his help because i didn't
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know all of his story. y'all probably know a lot of vietnam vets who don't really like to talk about the time in southeast asia and he -- he spent out of the first 5 years of marriage he spent 3 of them in southeast asia and so there was a lot of his life that i didn't share and so i needed him to tell me more. i know you don't like to talk about it, but i need to know for this book and he -- he was just amazing. anything i asked he would sit down and explain and i didn't know some of the terms. i mean, i used the wrong gun -- he said, no, that's not what we used. a lot of that concept, the airplanes, you know, i knew what an airline is and all but there were a lot of technical things i didn't know and he just -- he
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was so generous and taking all of his time to help me and he cared that -- he's part of this book and so i think -- i think our relationship is very, very close now. we have been married 53 years and i thought, you know, when we were 40, romance was gone, but -- but we seem to have a stronger relationship and i think this memoir has really changed how i feel about him, though i say that other people in the book i don't really, i haven't really changed my feelings for them because i've dealt with all that and -- [laughter] >> that's all. >> it's probably been the hardest thing for me writing
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this book has been family. i was very close to my sisters and 3 older sisters and two passed away, four years ago, reasons that i wanted to go ahead and do this now, was because i wanted my mother to have a voice, i wanted my oldest sister to have a voice, the woman who raised me, my nanny, to have a voice and at that time those women did not have voices and they tried to have voices, if they did, the harder they were pushed down and pretty much i found so many interesting things in writing this book but finding out from so many people in this little town, messaged with me on facebook, written long emails, whatever, that half of the money were medicated then and because they were miserable
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and miserable marriages but nobody ever divorced then. everybody stayed and that's one of the reason that is my mom became my hero, is because she did and -- but, you know, nobody wants these stories told and, you know, because everybody likes to tre pre tend that everything is perfect and so when i decided to do it, i asked -- i talked to my family about i was going to do this, they talked to me like i was 10 year's old. my mom said i was the save the baby marriage that didn't save the marriage.
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but they've never spoken to me since and that was last may and it's really divided our family and at first i had a very difficult time because i -- especially over the holidays i had a very difficult time because i felt like was this really worth it, was it really worth it? but i stopped writing the book 10 different times because i was afraid that telling the truth would have consequences. but it was because of my daughter who i want to be her when i grow up, she is a veterinarian in new orleans and
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she loved her grandmother, my mother and, she would say to me, mom, where is your courage, where is your courage you've taught me all these years, where is your strength? she goes, the story needs to be told and i would get back on the band wagon again and i'm so glad that i did. it's not that i'm not hurt, they hurt, i'm hurt that there was nothing bad about my sisters in this book and this book, just tells the truth, but it's really the book about redemption, love, mercy and forgiveness. we all love our families no matter bad things that happened. we still love them, but, so, yeah, it's divided my family. it's not the way i would like for it to be, but i'm okay
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because i just see all the good that this book has done, i've traveled around the country, this book with racism, civil rights era, coming out, and the 70's, deals with alcoholism, it deals with domestic abuse. all of those things and that you can survive that and really be okay and want to fight for better rights and for justice and equality, so it was -- it came with a great loss but at the same time my editor in new york said to me, i guess over christmas when she knew i was having a hard time from not hearing from anybody, she said, can i say something very blunt to you and i said, yes, she said
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well i don't know your family, i've never met them but she said, you know, i think what this is, they've never really accepted who you are and she said it's all been pretend, it's not that they don't love you but they never accepted that you're gay, they've never accepted that you're an activist and that you fight for equality, you know, because really pretty much most of the people that came from little town that i grew up in would not admit that there was racism and so, you know, it really shed a lot of light for me because i was like, wow, because i don't know if maybe i will feel this way, when you go home especially when you live away, i've lived in la for 30-something years, you go 3 to 4 times a year, everybody is happy to see each other and we
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drink sweet tea and hug, cook meals but it's all the same conversations and it's nothing below the surface, nothing because nobody wants to go below the surface and if you do just perk it a little bit and want to talk about something, it is shut down and so friend of mine for many years, grew up down the road from each other and she was -- i was talking and she said, you know, baby, she said women in the south don't like petty coats pulled up. [laughter] >> i guess i pulled some petty coats up. [laughter]
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>> my family, my husband and my kids. came to my house twice and spent the weekends with me and all we did was write notes, notes and i was very tired of them, she was doing a good job. she would write it down. my husband -- breakfast in the morning and we would have chat. my husband would go deli. we had to walk all of the time. we changed and take it out and put it in again. one of them when i was only 16
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year's old, farmhouse and what i was doing there summer job and what i was doing there picking blueberries and strawberries and one night, one night when i was leaving, it was getting dark, how did that ever happen, so i decided i have to walk. i took the shortcut. i went down and try to get away and i knew, couldn't catch up with me. [laughter] >> went back and told his mother what he was trying to do.
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i was scared. this is what we are using and i was scared. i was scared he would follow me. i really should have reported me and i never even told my own mother or father. the only person i told was my sister and she said that that happened to me too. she said that happened to me too by somebody else. very, very scared, it was very dark at night. but i survived. and my husband was the best --
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everybody loves my -- [laughter] >> well, my brothers pretty much knew all the stories, but my mother is why i have 5,000 cousins, i have a lot of cousins on both sides. similar stories. one in particular, my brothers and i, everything else and my family, slightly suspicious, my
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mother, she tells my mom, grandchildren are -- [laughter] >> and my husband, so we remember. one day we are going on farm in living room and my mother in the morning, my mother says, out and lines up by age, by height, i see my uncle driving my grandmother, they never showed up.
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comes up the steps of the farmhouse and holy water, catholic church, typical every time -- [laughter] >> so one of my first cousins, two of my first cousins came, totally charmed and one of my favorite first cousins -- we can't. >> yeah, opened up with this idea of permission and getting people permission to write about them and it's kind of difficult, tricky situation, mother passed
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and the repercussions with your sister not really giving you permission but if anyone else had any kind of issues of getting permission or challenges with those conversations or did you just -- tell the stories and, you know, ask forgiveness instead of permission? >> you know, people were asking about, people recognizing and he said, well, you like something good about it, but if you like something bad, they don't recognize them. that's always helped me a lot through the years, but, of course, it's different because i didn't use real names except in some instances, but i did -- i have photographs at the end of the book of some other people,
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so i looked to them and asked if i could use this photograph and assured them that they would look good but some of the stories that are really unpleasant like the young wife, husband was shot down in vietnam and badly injured and when she went to see him at the hospital when he got back, she looked at him and the doctor told her it was going to be a long, long recovery, she walked in the room and went to look at him and said, i can't do this and walked out. i didn't tell her real name and i hope she doesn't read the book because i put her in it, but another wife her husband was also shot -- not shot down the
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plane cut fire, but he lost both legs and arm and she -- she not only supports him she works for the disabled veterans with him, so, you know, i think the war is a good test of who you are and i found out who a lot of these people were. i didn't use the volunteer name either. i knew it would be okay. the one that appears in the book the most is bonnie because i was in michigan at the time and she was a yankee and i was coming from mississippi and so she helped me so much, a person who
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knew how to take care of children and didn't and she got me through my daughter's -- all the mistakes that i made she helped me fix. she was my daughter. so i used her name and i asked her if it was okay with her and she said, oh, no, she read the book before it was published and she said, oh, no, i look like i'm the star. i said, you are the star. [laughter] >> so, yeah, i didn't worry about it, though, really, the truth is the truth and if you can't handle it, you know, i got to handle it and that's the way it is. i didn't feel -- i'm not scared. [laughter] >> that somebody is going to be upset. i did use my daughter's name and i did ask her permission because
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her story is very personal and i asked her if -- if it was okay for me to tell her story and she said, sure, everybody knows all of that anyway and so she was very, very kind about -- i noticed one thing that i didn't say when we were talking about people's reactions, my grandson who is in 23 lives in hollywood and studying acting and he got one of the very first copies of the book and he was halfway through and he called me and he said, nanny, i'm reading your book, i'm on chapter whatever it was, 8, i just want to tell you that i did not want to know your sexual fantasy. [laughter] >> honey, we weren't always old and -- and then when he finished
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the book he called me and said i loved it and he said i was so amazed, i said -- i thought he was going say about the story because it was quite adventure and he said amazed, y'all didn't have skype. no. [laughter] >> 10 days to get a letter from vietnam. so that was fun but anyway, i don't worry about offending people in the book, you know, if you did it you did it. [laughter] >> well, i did change my name i changed my parents name because they asked me to, but in some of the places because the town is so tinny, some of the places and the names of the people that certain things happened, i didn't use their name.
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the majority of the book is about my mother, my father and the lady who raised me and they've all been passed a long time but, you know, if i thought someone was alive and would hurt them in that way i didn't use their name and so it wasn't -- i was totally fine doing that, so in this little town, i hear from people in other towns surrounding that when anybody comes to visit in south mississippi or mississippi they are want to go see where the stories to be place and i guess this little town that's becoming quite a tourist attraction. [laughter]
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>> she did say at one time, if you write a book -- if you write a book, i decided, john, i wouldn't write anything bad of such nice family to me and made me part of their family and i can't say bad words so all my family, nobody didn't say why we write the book, only one person said and i told him write the story of my life and person said to me what life, what life. i said my life and she said, what's the difference between your life and my life. [laughter] i said i don't know but just wait and see.
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i don't see in the papers. just wait. no problem. no. my family was very proud of me. [laughter] >> my parents are gone, my grandparents are gone. no one to check with. my mom would absolutely love the book except there's a story, she had favorite aunt, helping to teach my mother cook gumbo, i was maybe 10 year's old, she
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spoke french. she also had glass eye. [laughter] >> popped back in. one time she tumbled and the eye rolled on the floor towards my cousins and i and we schemed out of the room and my mom was mortified, not by the eye but getting up and running. >> all the books are filled with great stories, details like that, so much details of things that happened like decades ago. i have terrible memory.
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i don't talk about the details because i'm afraid that i'm going get it wrong, did y'all have naturally great memories or act of having to get everything down and the act of having put those memories into language and writing, does that help with creating, recreating the scenes that happened so long ago? >> well, as i said my father was in world war ii and so i called him. i wrote down everything he told me.
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the japanese had machine guns, it was crazy. when i got back i said, dad, he never we wanted to talk about the war, you have to write this down because it would be lost, he left behind 140 pages of not just war but childhood. i had details of my father's early life and marriage and wartime. a lot of what i do from my father comes from that. >> my next -- whoever wants to jump in. [laughter] >> go ahead. >> okay. i left out i came to new york for a job. i went to agency with my aunt on
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68th street and me and my sister, it was two of us. she said, i have two nice jobs and she says i have one job as waitress and one for taking care of kids. she said i take waitress and then i said i will take the kids. i had a nice -- my aunts brought me to the house to the interview for the job, the lady okay she's going to hire me and i needed the money and we needed to get the job, so i went and took care of the kids and i said, i couldn't figure out why there was no husband, two small kids. finally saturday morning came and the husband came in and he taking the kids for the weekend.
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hamptons or i don't know where it was, so she says to me, you have to go with them. i said do i have to, she said, yes, an the husband said, no, no, i can handle the kids by myself. so she said, no, no, you go. i went anyway. the husband asked the two kids, the father asked the two kids where would you like to go and they said mcdonalds, so we went to mcdonalds and when we came home sunday night, where did they go to dinner, the kids said mcdonalds. that cheap and gave big curse, no, no, madame, they asked to go there. she says to me, i was in the back room with the kids playing games and she says, guest coming, when the guest comes could you let him in and let him
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know he came. sure, no problem. the guest came and i showed them, the bar is over there, make yourself a drink. he said, okay. she walked out complete naked to get herself a drink and then she really for not telling her. i just thought -- i tried to teach her a lesson. she won't walk around the house like that. [laughter] >> i was so depressed and dark and one little room. no windows in it. i put on 40 pounds there because it was so boring.
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i was very depressed. my cousin calls me up. will you take the job, no, i'm quite happy where i am. so, again, okay, i want to try it. let me see. i said i went to the interview, i met my cousin there at the door. good friend. the secret serviceman and my cousin would go to lunch every day. i went to the interview.
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i will bring you up in the elevator. he brought me up in the elevator, pushed the button, you're on your own, right, came all dressed in black, waitress. she took me in and sat on the couch, she said, very sharply, i said, okay. he said my name is john and i said my name is kathy. he says to me, do you want me to show you -- you want me to show you my dog doing a trick. he put his hand in his pocket and took out small little bone and put it in the cushion,
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shannon going dead, shannon the dog on the cushion and said, you want to see another trick, i said, okay, shannon rollover, she kept rolling over across the living room, right, all of a sudden while this was going on, all of a sudden, wife is around the corner, john, what are you doing, you're ruining my couch. all of a sudden he disappeared with the dog. she said when can i start, i have a job already and i have to tell them that i'm leaving and she said, i don't tell her notice she won't give me
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reference, she said don't need a reference, you already got the job. [laughter] >> then i went the next -- the next week, i got my suitcase packed up and that's where i ended up. i was happy as ever. >> that's what i mean, excellent memories. [laughter] >> anything to say about memory? >> i don't remember the question. [laughter] >> does anybody have any questions, we have 15 minutes or 10 minutes for some questions? >> i read somewhere mrs. kennedy , working for magazine company, she made a statement that she felt that if you failed in raising your
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children you failed as a human being. >> yes. [laughter] >> hi, thank you for being here. i have a question, you obviously have very great memories and picked up on details, i wonder sometimes if it's exact, if getting the exact detail is as important than asking esthetic of memory, or the idea of a memory is doing something in memory just says relevance, as writer i want to know tips for accessing that? >> well, i would say that i learned, i think my memory is
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great as far as those times and i don't know if it was because of those times that i feel like i remember details but what -- i can't remember where my wallet is or my glasses are or anything else but i remember everything from then, but my editor i had a great editor and in the beginning the way she would talked to me and trying to help me where she would say i knew you remember the smell, i knew that you would remember the sound, i knew that you would remember the whatever was happening at that time and so as i began to look at memories and write it down but then to your
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point you can actually take it and smell that oven or that perfume that my mother would wear, you know, whatever it may be, so it really -- it really helped me a lot and by doing that too more memory later on, so, yeah. >> talk about food memories. corn bread. that sticks with you. that corn bread -- i have really good memory and have a way to
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identifying those in writing. that takes work. >> i was going to add, food and music, i know a lot of people who know a whole lot about it. i can crank up clear water and i'm back on the dance floor, you know, just getting down and but you see it, you know, i could remember what i was wearing, you know, i do have a good memory but i also had all of letters from vietnam and i had all the journals i had written and i had letters that other friends had written and some of my letters to him and i can't talk without -- i'm a fiction writer basically and we are all into
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hyperbole and you have to be accurate and i know i told a story and my brother was alive then and he heard my story and he said that's not the way it happened. memory is faulted so i was very aware of that, so, you know, i would want to say 40 because fiction writers are really good liars and we like to exaggerate and put in memoir you better not say 40 unless you know it's 40 and that was a real difficult task for me to rein in my memory. [laughter]
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[inaudible] >> yes, yes. she has her own kids. she might have babies soon. >> you have a question? >> yes? you were talking about gumbo, what is your favorite? >> oh, well, the way that my momma made it.
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>> there was more butter and crisco. [inaudible] >> for like weeks at a time, so -- they were able to transform that gives gumbo color and taste there's something missing here.
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worry about the taste profile. i found online. a description, iron arkansas. [laughter] >> trying to connect the dots. i don't know much about it. is there a connection? well, we are looking to a place in arkansas, what about, tourism site and whole thing in 1811,
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little town, they killed more than 100 bears, more bears and they ran and they put it on barrels and where did it end up in 1811? in 1811 new orleans -- [laughter] >> so go try to find gumbo today. you can. i'm still a little worried about the taste. i've got me some. you can't buy that on amazon. [laughter] >> now that my book is out, it's on it.
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[laughter] >> but in the meantime, this guy , all kinds of crazy stuff. i will send you some. so my home in chicago. [laughter] >> not in my kitchen you're not doing that. i realized that doesn't make sense. i have to cook. i thought, i'm coming on book tour, it's possible. i can't take some on plane.
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sir, what is that? bear grease, sir, step out of the line, please. anyway, we -- it was only half. half a cup of bear grease. i had to make mini gumbo following my mother's recipe. mocha chocolate. we ate it and we didn't die. [laughter] >> all right, we ate it and we didn't die.
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we will end this, thank y'all so much for coming. [applause] >> buy the books, they are really, really great. they are really good all of them. >> thank you so much for coming. [inaudible conversations] >> every year book tv covers book fairs and festivals around the country nearly 400 to date. here is a look at some of the events coming up. this weekend it's the national antiracist book festival held at american university in washington, d.c. next month the war play book festival takes place in minneapolis, live from in maryland may 18th and later in the spring look for us at bookexpo in new york city, the
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largest publishing trade fair in the united states. for more information about upcoming book fairs and festivals and to watch our previous festival coverage click the book fairs tab on our website, >> good afternoon, good afternoon, everyone, welcome to the american enterprise institute, my name is ryan, i'm director of domestic policy studies here and it's my pleasure to welcome you to this event featuring new book and discussions and claims and i think you'll find remarks panel of interest particularly timely given the moment that we fin


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