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tv   Fall Books 2019 Preview Author Discussion  CSPAN  June 15, 2019 5:15pm-6:40pm EDT

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anna wiener. this is booktv on c-span. >> next up, a preview of some of the books being published this fall. authors speak include -- malcolm gladwell and rachel maddow. then presidential historians discuss the strength and weaknesses of the u.s. previous chief executives. and later, cbs sunday morning correspondent discusses his forthcoming book of obituaries featuring politicians, scientists, entertainers and others. it all starts now on booktv on c-span2. >> now here's a fall book preview. [inaudible conversations] >> good morning. good morning. i feel like such a school headmaster. please take your seats.
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my name is lance and i oversee -- which oversees book expo and some other shows but honestly i'm actually a former independent bookseller. [applause] i cannot actually hack it in a tough independent world of books on soy joined the international for-profit publicly traded corporations. more things seemed a little bit easier and now i get to oversee shows like this and i get to talk to all of you. but i'm not going to do this morning is delay by more than two minutes, the amazing lineup of authors we've got coming out. i just wanted to take a moment, tell a story and acknowledge a friend that many have not if not all of us have in common. that is also here today.i'm going to start in 2003. i just talked my way into getting a job running
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independent bookstore in my hometown of st. paul, minnesota. i didn't know anything about independent bookselling. i didn't know anything about bookselling unlike the luminaries in this room now. a new move and i was not a real place to forget it was enough and i can talk my way through it. shortly after, i took this job running this big independent bookstore in st. paul. i got a call. it might have been in email. but i got contact from the name of a person i had heard of. a famous person in the book world. i did not know the person. but i knew they were important. and they called me or emailed me and invited me to a meeting. a nondescript meeting. at a hotel near an airport in january in minnesota. [laughter] right? this sort of chile, literally, figuratively and cultlike sort
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of introduction of how i first got engaged with the american booksellers association. in that room, cold january day in the hotel by the airport, people that soon became what were my sort of bookselling luminaries. people like steve burke and ken white and before he was a famous author and bookstore owner himself, -- was in the room. gil shanks. i'm not sure that mitchell kaplan was in the room but his charismatic figure was looming about was there that i sort of learned about bookselling and independent bookselling.i got an education, the advocate study two percent solution really taught me how to do my job and i found a home because of the invitation to join the group that cold january morning. from there, i moved east to an amazing bookstore with -- i ended up getting a job running book expo over 10 years ago and they get to build a company called re pop.
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i've met people had built relationships and it's been really an amazing, amazing ride. but none of that would have happened if -- had not made the phone call or send email that day. and engaged with me and asked me to participate in american booksellers association which is really paved in 15 years of my life. and the point isn't about my stories specifically. it's that over 30 years involved in the independent bookstore bookselling there are thousands people have a similar story. the details are different but the impact on their lives is what shared and i think most of us know that the end of this year warren is going to retire from aba and i just wanted to take just a brief moment and
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not say goodbye but say thank you. on behalf of myself, personally. but the thousands of people like me whose lives were impacted by his desire to engage and make a difference and really championing independent bookselling in this country. so that is my story and i just wanted to say thank you. [applause] with back thank you said, we will invite jenny martin who actually runs book expo america who will introduce our panel for the morning and will have a great conversation. thank you for being here. [applause] >> good morning everyone.
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i'm jenny martin event manager for book expo. looking to book expo and welcome to the adult author 2019. we have an amazing lineup of authors for you guys. i'm just going to get right into it and introduce them and get them out here for you. first we have -- [applause] joining us next we have marjorie lou. [applause] [laughter] [laughter] thank you. next up, welcome to the stage,
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karen slaughter. [applause] [laughter] and malcolm gladwell. [applause] now for our mc for the evening, rachel maddow. she is on msnbc. and in a new york times bestseller, she received bachelor degree in public policy from stanford university as well as her doctorate in political science at oxford
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university which she attended on a road scholarship. she said her shows you never write another book but aren't we glad that she did? welcome, rachel maddow. [cheers and applause] >> i'm such a night owl that this count is very late night. [laughter] feel free to smoke. [laughter] or drink or whatever you need to do. thanks very much for the warm welcome. it is exciting and intimidating to be here. i am more than excited to hear from each of these authors about their new work. i'm having a little imposter syndrome. to be appear with them so be brief in this discussion right now about my new book. which is called blowout.some of you may know, i have this t.v. show where i get to --
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you guys still have tvs! [laughter] for most of you very soon it will be a phone show. but right now it's a t.v. show where i get to cover the news in my own way and is my choice as to which stories i cover and how and at what length. for that show, i read several thousand words a day. and as long as there are no swearwords among them and as long as i abide by nbc news rules and standards are pretty much can say all the words i write on my own terms on t.v. every night. which means i have the greatest job on earth. but that may also make you wonder why on top of that, i would be so greedy as to want an additional outlet. yet to further express myself and give my take on what i think is going on in the world. in the abstract, i don't. but in 2012 and i wrote my first book, drift, and this
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past year when i started working on blowout, i really felt like i ended up book rating almost despite myself because in the course of my day job, i found myself repeatedly getting stuck. justin do my regular work trying to explain the days news, trying to make sense of larger dynamic in which the new cycle was unfolding. both in 2012 and this past year. i kept feeling like i was getting caught in an intellectual bottleneck.there was this process that i could see at work in the world. a dynamic that came to think was pretty important for explaining the news on any given day. but it is an idea that's a couple of hundred pages long idea. although i took incessantly a couple of hundred page long idea does not fit into my daily work. it is the same thing for me that happens in 2012.
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if any of you remember drift also the book when it came out it was about the use of american military power becoming unmoored from democratic decision-making. wars that never end and that the public never notices. and congress never votes on. i felt compelled to write drift because i felt that it was a tillable story about where it all came from. a fairly recent story and i felt it was a way to point out over a couple hundred pages why it didn't have to be that way forever. that was my first book. my new book, blowout, came from a realization i had that sort of had me in the same way. which is that there is a fairly simple that i think uniquely destructive dynamic at work behind a bunch of news that we are living through right now. and it has to do with the oil and gas industry. it is a couple hundred pages long so it had to be a book. but the basic idea is that the democratic system of government
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and competent governance overall, both at home and abroad, they have a really potent and unrelenting enemy and not one industry. and oil and gas industry is a rich and dangerous sector of the business world but i think it also ought to be recognized as a political entity. one has a track record of gobbling down even seemingly strong government and spitting out the bumps. part of the books subtitle is the phrase, road state russia. you may know that in my day job i have spent a -- amount of time on the russian attack on the 2016 election and its implications and aftermath. this book is not a book about that attack per se. but it does let me get off my chest a thing that i hope americans could better understand about why russia
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would have wanted to do a thing like that. and why they chose those weird methods. i think russia mounted the attack on our election from a position of profound economic and strategic weakness. for me, coming to understand that has been revelatory in terms of thinking about what they did but also what they've done since the attack and why and what makes for success in their own eyes when they mount these kinds of operations. just one last point. i recognize that the oil and gas industry is a big bold committed thing. it is made up of many companies that are run by many executives that have many employees and many shareholders. each of whom is a person like who came from a mother. it is very nice. [laughter] i don't think the oil and gas industry is bad because it is made up of bad people. i think the story here is that it is a uniquely destructive
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entity particularly to our democracy and democracies abroad because of its inherent purpose and because of the profoundly cynical but rational expectations that industry has built for itself in terms of the way it does business. as you know, when used as directed, this is an industry whose products are in the process of ending the world. and sooner than we were really say expecting. but even before we get to the climate apocalypse, that's a ministry in the meantime really is doing its best to undermine our ability to govern ourselves effectively. and to make good group decisions about how to handle all of our challenges, including the ones that we get from them. so, i know, cheery, right? there's a lot of oklahoma city, there are some siberia and equatorial guinea. there's a very talented -- there seats in hell -- there is
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a little bit of xena the warrior princess. some radioactive milk, and a comically terribly failed spy ring it up of terrible, terrible spies. and i know the cover, under the covers a little apocalyptic. actually briefly lobbied for the statute -- the statue of liberty to have a clown nose. my mother told me based on the cover she is afraid to read it. i will admit it is sort of about the end of the world. but i also think it is kind of a funny story. [laughter] so, in any case i hope that you like it. i want to thank you for this time. i want to thank you in advance. free interest, as i say it comes out on october 1. thank you. [applause]
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>> now i'm going to bring up to the podium now, our first real author. malcolm gladwell is the author of five new york times vessels. -- he is the host of the podcast, revisionist history, staff writer of course at the new yorker. he was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by "time magazine". and one of four impulsive top global thinkers pay previously a reporter for the "washington post" we covered business and science, he then served as the new paper new york city bureau chief you graduate from the university of toronto, trinity college with a degree in history, he was born in england, a up in rural ontario and he now lives in new york please welcome malcolm gladwell. [applause] >> thank you, rachel.
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for the introduction. a pleasure to be here. although i have profoundly mixed feelings on the one hand, am excited to see all of you. you have done so much over the years to sell my books and advance my life and on a metaphorical level, i'm delighted to see you upand out of first thing in the morning . the other side of it is on the non- metaphorical side i am appalled i'm up this early have not seen a damon very many years. is very novel and somewhat terrifying experience for me. i will try and put that aside. i have a book coming out in september, september 10 called talking to strangers. it grew out of, hesitate to use the word inspired but it grew out of, it was out of the sandra bland incident, many will remember this.
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several years ago young african-american women come from a job interview from a small college in houston. and as she's pulling out of the campus, onto the road around the campus, a police officer comes driving up behind her. quite quickly and she most to get out of his way. because she thinks he is off to somewhere. it's of driving by her, he pulls her over and he says, i pulled you over because you did not use your turning signal. when you got out of the way. she of course is a little baffled by this. and they have a conversation and in the beginning the conversation goes, according to protocol. as you would imagine, a conversation between a motorist and a police officer. but she is quite upset and she liked a cigarette. and the police officer tells her to put the cigarette out, and she says why should i put out the cigarette?
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i am in my car, i have a right to smoke a cigarette. and he said no, no, put out your cigarette. and he says you have notified my order and as many of you will remember, things escalate from there. they have a kind of tussle. he drags her out of the car, handcuffed her, she gets put in jail and three days later, she hangs herself. in her jail cell. that case was one of a number of cases that captured public attention a few years ago. beginning of course, with ferguson and michael brown and extending through eric garner and on and on. but of all of them, that was the case that affected me the deepest. i'm not entirely sure why. but there was something about the meaninglessness and the stupidity of the officers reactions that i couldn't let go of.
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and so i decided to write a book about it. to write a book about what happened between those two people. and the first thing that i had to do with was the conventional explanation. and we know what they were. the first explanation was that this was about race. that this was a racist cop who thought the worst of a young woman because she was black. and there's an awful lot of truth in that. that case would not have happened as it did if sandra bland was, had blue eyes and blonde hair. this is the second alternative view was that it was about a bad cop. a copy did not know how to be a cop and there's a lot of truth to that as well. that brian, if you read the transcript or listen even better, to the audiotape of the encounter with sandra bland, he had no idea how to deal with someone who puts up or disrupt
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his carefully worked out narrative of the way a police encounter is supposed to work. but the more thought about the church donations the more thought that they were lacking in some way or there was a deeper way to understand this. and i came to the conclusion that what this really was was a failure of communication between strangers. that these were two people who were profoundly different on many levels. one male, one female, one black, one white. one for chicago, one from armed, one unarmed, one standing, one seated. and if you look very closely and listen to the encounter, it is clear that they fundamentally have no idea who they are talking to. that the, brian is seeing something sinister and sandra bland and sandra bland does not understand that she is dealing with an immature thin-skinned rookie cop and not a police officer who knows how to deal
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with complexity on some level. and once they realize that that's what the encounter was about, i also realize that we are versions of this kind of breakdown of communication between strangers over and over again. and that many of the most signature crises of our day are versions of this same problem. so think about bernie madoff, that is a stranger problem, someone who he thought, who investors thought they knew who was in fact something profoundly different. aunt emma was able to glimpse his true self. or think about that jerry sandusky case at penn state. or the larry nassar case at michigan state. two men in a highly regarded and professional role who are hiding some dark secret and
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once again, we are incapable of seeing it or know how to communicate with them in a way that reveals themselves to us. i could go on. amanda knox. what is the case of amanda knox about? she goes to italy and ask in a way consistent with her own american codes of conduct. they are completely inconsistent with italian codes of conduct. and there so baffled and in disbelieving about the way she behaves after the death of her roommate that they falsely imprison her for four years. i could go on and on. the case of brock turner. stanford university. you have two people who meet each other, a man and a woman late at night at a party. and proceed to fundamental misunderstanding each other's intentions. while being totally drunk out of their minds. so what happens when we add alcohol to the problem?
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this takes all of this case studies and adds a series of other was a talk about, chamberlain and hitler and -- on and on, trying to understand what it is about the particular dynamic between strangers that is so problematic. what are the mistakes that we are making that cause these seemingly routine encounters to go awry? and death in the book attract to come to some kind of accounting of what we can do to get better at this kind of encounter. and i won't run it for you but do want to make two points in passing that i think are worth considering. one is that going back to sandra bland, the striking thing about the case is that it did not happen in the kind of context that we normally associate with problematic crimes. it was not late at night. in a bad neighborhood, under some dubious or sinister circumstances. it was a woman coming from a job interview at a college in the middle of the day in a
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rural part of texas with cows grazing in the field across the way. and that is suggest to us that the problems that we are seeing are not confined to the darkest most problematic areas of our society, they are everywhere. in the second even more sobering is that when you examine the conduct of the police officer who arrested her very closely, you will that he was not a road cop, he is not a bad apple, he was in fact a textbook cop behaving in precisely the way he was trained to behave. and once we realize that fact i think we realize where the blame for these kinds of encounters lies. and it is not with these individuals, it is rather, with all of us. thank you. [applause] >> our next author is karen
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slaughter. when the words most popular and acclaimed storytellers. she's published in 120 countries. with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe. her 19 novels include the grant country and will trent books as well as the edgar nominated cop town and the instant new york times best-selling novels for the girls, the good daughter and pieces of her. this summer, karen slaughter returns with her latest will trent installment which is called the last widow. slaughter is a founder of the save the libraries project which is a nonprofit established to support libraries. [applause] and library programming. she is a native of georgia, she lives in atlanta. her standalone novels pieces of her, the good daughter and cop town right now are in development for film and television. please welcome, karen slaughter. [cheers and applause] >> hello. i think i'm the shortest one
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here. everybody has notes. i feel bad. i realize i have my grocery list. [laughter] milk. for those of you who don't know me, karen slaughter, right kind of grisly, violent, shocking, twisting kind of thrillers. slaughter is my real estate. some of my early reviews so that i write like a man. which i think was meant as a compliment. they just did not know how to explain why a woman would be so interested in crimes that overwhelmingly affect women. so that was what they came up with. [laughter] but usually people were surprised when they maybe think they will make me a leather with a switchblade. i read a lot of social issues so maybe a beret. [laughter] they do often say i thought you would be taller. which is disappointed to about this because i did think i was
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taller. [laughter] but normally don't talk about my books a lot. the last widow, hope you get it for free so i really how to sell it to you. [laughter] only when i talk about the books i just give too much away some going to talk about something i find a lot more interesting which is myself. [laughter] i want to give you my origin story. to explain why i write the way i write. ending as the three girls. obviously the most attractive and successful. [laughter] but when i was a little girl, my dad realized that i love writing stories and so he would give me a quarter every time i read a story. and since i was the youngest of three girls, most of my books were about my sisters being mutilated. [laughter] where they would get sick and i will be an only child. [laughter] we through -- he went through a unicorn stage. there was a lot of impaling.
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the unicorn strikes back, thorn in my side. any damage that would give me 1/4 to early on i was encouraged to write these really violent, graphic stories. which is what you want a six-year-old to be doing. my dad was a story teller and i got that level storytelling from him. most of his stuff was a cautionary tale like a little girl left open the refrigerator door and died. [laughter] or the little girl who touched a thermostat and died. [laughter] and my dad was a typical, 1970s/1980s dad. he just really did not know how to communicate with daughters. so he would scare us to death or he would grab our knees in that place where your laughing but it hurts so bad that you're just crying also. and to this day whenever it rains, all of us limp from my dad grabbing her knees. he still does it by the way. but when we were kids, you know
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how at christmas time he delegates on the roof and he's like, ho, ho, ho. he would do that in the summertime. [laughter] one time i was at an event and this girl came up i went to middle school with and she said, hey, i just -- i can't forget when we were in middle school together and i was at a slumber party. your dad scared us to death. and i say you're going to have to be more specific. [laughter] and she said, will he got a ladder and put up against the window and i said you're going to be more specific. [laughter] so he climbed up as we got to sleep, finally, and he put a white sheet over his head. but forget to put the eyeholes and he knocked on the window and we screamed so loud that he laughed so hard he fell off the ladder. [laughter] but you know, he was always telling us stories to kind of take us out of our lives and you know, just stop us fighting
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with each other. i was born and raised in georgia so we say we want a vacation it means the redneck riviera, florida panhandle. our dad would drive us there. we are not allowed to drink liquids for the first run for hours so he wouldn't have to stop. all three of us in the back seat and since i was the youngest and was in the middle on the hump. invariably, we would all start to wilt from the heat because it was about a thousand degrees in the car. my dad did not believe in turning on the air conditioner because it wasted gas. and he did not believe in playing the radio because it wasted gas. [laughter] so you just sit up in the front, he would have a cigarette in one hand and a scotch in the other. and he would drive with his knees and somehow still managed to swing around and slap us on the legs. [laughter] and occasionally pull over to give us all spankings which the joke was on him because most of
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our skin was left in the vinyl seat in the back of the car. [laughter] but he would talk about family and made for the family. that's a great southern tradition. he would tell us about my aunt, bless her heart. we all love her but she was an awful human being. she is mean and constantly disappointed in us. but she loved the church, she loved god, she loved going to church every time the doors opened. she loved visiting people at the hospital so she could find out what was wrong with them and tell everybody. [laughter] one of the things she also did for the church, she volunteered at the bingo parlor. because that was the moneymaking side and it was the only job that she could get. because people hated her. [laughter] and so she would get up there. i guess i should mention she had a hair lip. and this is something that can be fixed but in the church,
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victor took a savings for her to have this surgically repaired. but she wouldn't do because she said jesus touched her on the lip. and they made her special. but i think really what she loved was challenging people to laugh at her. and so at night when she would work at the bingo parlor, she insisted on calling out the balls. she would say b-- or i. and i remember dad telling stories and i thought wow, if you tell stories you can cuss. and in my stories i cuss a lot. my grandmother love stories. they were dirt poor, literally, when they would move them how to bring the wood from the floor with them to the next place they did not sleep in the dirt. he was one of nine brothers and sisters. making my grandmother smile was the gift that everyone could give her. but telling a good story. but she loved this magazine called true crime magazine. i do not remember it. it's basically snuff porn. and every sunday shall go to the piggly wiggly on the bad
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side of town because kroger didn't carry that trash. and she would read it while she was cooking sunday dinner. then we would show up and she would hide the magazine in her bedroom so we wouldn't know she was reading it. and of course, as soon as we kissed her on the cheek and we were told to go play, we would find this magazine and read it cover to cover and scare each other to death and you know, they were these horrible stories. the ending was always, she should have listened to her father. or her husband was right. and so, we would read these magazines and every sunday night we will cry ourselves to sleep. our parents just that were so naughty and the preacher had said some that church that really moved us but we were afraid we were going to be murdered. so that's one of the reasons why i love writing about crime. i think my grandmother would just be mortified that people know i'm really interested in it. but my grandmother passed away,
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one thing that we always did, every easter which was an important holiday for her, will go visit her grave. if anyone is from the south you know this is a true story. there was a preacher there who was buried with a telephone because he was afraid the rapture would happen and he wouldn't be able to get out of the grave. and it's a store like harry potter is the most powerful magician but he still needs glasses. [laughter] but it was an actual phone and it was a telephone cord coming out of the grave going up to the telephone pole. and my dad always made us walk under the telephone line. even though my grandmother is grave was closer to the parking lot. we would all three be in our easter clothes, you know patent leather shoes, pink dress, ruffled underwear, my sister was 16. and i was kind of chubby so just picture what happens when you open a can of cinnamon rolls. [laughter]
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so we would all trundle off to visit my grandmother is grave underneath this telephone line. one day my dad that it would be really funny to ring a bell. remember in telephone sound like bells? hearing this bell and we all started screaming. we all had years and years of therapy. and really, none of us could quite recall what happened next. but what we do know is that we all ended up in the backseat of a car on the floor stacked on top of each other covered in urine. when you read the book it is pretty scary. [laughter] people will come up to me and say, that kept me up, it was so scary. my first thought is that, at least you're not covered in urine. [laughter] thank you. [cheers and applause]
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>> it makes a relatively should have tried to be funnier about rex tillerson. [laughter] today's the first ever talked about the book. i'm going to work on that. [laughter] marjorie is our next author, she is an attorney also new york times best-selling author of over 19 novels. cocreator of the series, monstrous. in which she made history in 2018 is the first ever woman to win the iser award in the best writer category. [applause] her comic book work also includes x 23, black widow, dark wolverine and astonishing x-men. for which she was nominee for a media award for outstanding media images of a lesbian gay bisexual and transgender
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community. she currently teaches a course on comic book writing at mit. please welcome marjorie. [applause] >> i'm definitely earning an award for fabulous footwear. [laughter] so, karin is a hard act to follow. dammit! [laughter] i wish that -- is here today. she's my sister and arms, the artist of monstrous.basically my better half. when it comes to our collaboration on the book. the great thing about working with her is that after all of these years, she's the only person who knows i am actually serious when i say things like you know what we really need in the book? like what would really make it sparkle?
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cannibalism. [laughter] you know? she's like all right, i am set, let's do it. "monstress" is a really dark book. and there's no way to sugarcoat that. it is an epic feminist fantasy about the aftermath of genocide, colonialism, slavery, magical weapons of mass destruction. and it is also a book about the profound healing power of love and friendship. and i thought i would just talk to a little about how it came to be. you know, thank you so much. it is all the professional stuff. what very few people know is my chinese name. the one my birth certificate. my grandfather wanted his chinese-american granddaughter to not only have a chinese name, he wanted it lawfully registered and certified on
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paper. he was the one who chose it. so carefully, each character like this for maximum spaciousness. and so my chinese name -- agrippa being called --. i was really lucky to grow up seeing my grandparents. i spent every weekend in their laundromat in vancouver, british columbia. to this day i can still smell the detergent. i can hear the roar of the machines. i can still see my grandfather little office in the back of this gusty little maze with a dry-cleaning hung. i can remember my sturdy, easy-going grandmother and the rosa sugrue behind the laundry. -- the roses that she grew behind the laundry. once when i was visiting them a white woman ran up on the laundry with a shotgun. she was going to blow her boyfriends brains out.
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she said this. i am going to blow your brains out. my grandfather just cool as can be got between the two of them. and he stopped her, got her to put the gun down. my grandmother was there with him the entire way. there was a full on ride or die. they were really outstanding. they were upstanding chinese immigrants always working, always giving back to the community, going to church, helping friends.i was the only daughter of their only so . so they spoiled me rotten. it was like dumplings and ice cream all day. never a sharp word. if you'd met my grandparent you would have thought they were the kindest, most peaceful, serene people ever. that was a lie. it was a lie! behind the gentle, helpful faces, there was a war.
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it was world war ii. the war. when i was a kid, it had only been 40 years. and now that i am in my 40s, i understand it is practical yesterday. for my grandparents it was the same. the war might have been 40 years past but memories were terribly, terribly close. if you were raised chinese-american like me, it meant you grow up with those stories. the kind of stories that would give you nightmares forever. and you know, i will be honest. traumatized chinese grandparents, they do not come with a rating system. stories are not g or pg. they are r-rated w-a-r. and it's a very special thing. i still remember one time, i was little and they were telling the stories. i was tiny! i removed one time we were eating watermelon. my grandmother looked up from her rind and cheerfully, cheerfully told me the story about how she and her
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classmates were all crowded on a river ferry, trying to escape the japanese. but there were too many people and the ferry capsized and every single person on the ferry all of her classmates died. except for her. and she says, i was the only one who lived! and she went back to eating her watermelon and spitting out the seeds. business as usual. and that was normal! totally normal.then there was my grandfather who is a former combat pilot. in the middle of his tai chi told me about his time aboard a navy ship and the abuse he and his fellow chinese had to indoor from the brits. and during air battles in the war he always held one bomb back. just in case he ever saw that ship again. he -- no, he was for real! [laughter] doing and he was really -- he really wanted to drop it. so, those were stories to grow on. you know?
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it was a lot! a lot!i didn't know were hunger, people were not massacred around and they were not eating rotting animals to survive. and i wanted to forget those stories it was during the cold war in america was already apocalyptic enough with the vision of the future. i was scared of that without listening to my grandparents share their living memories. living memories of another nightmare. you know, i never forgot it though. i never forgot the stories. when i was in college and law school and often think about my grandparents and what they had endured to make me possible. and i thought about what i inherited from them. besides my dad. and when that, you know when they kept on i tried to write their stories down because i wanted to remember them. but it was always like being caught in like a pros, riptide. i can never get close to shore. i was always trying to swim at an angle to get near them again. i couldn't find the words.
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and it couldn't, it was like, was trying so hard to get close to my grandparents and it was a distance between us. so i became a writer. book after book, comic actor comic.... . >> they taught me the most valuable lesson of all that you don't have to be broken by terrible things. there is hope. there is life after you survive a surviving
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feeling, growth, love , strength of conviction knowing that you deserve to live. that you clod and fight your way back my grandparents taught me that everything else in life i call it a glow of self-awareness that no matter what else you've got this. you've got this. you don't have to be afraid. so my grandparents were trying to connect our lives my grandfather gave me a name they gave me a history that i'm trying to resurrect and understand and this is just the first attempt. thank you. [applause]
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. >> the fourth and final author tonight. [laughter] this is a nightclub via. this is not the first time i have done that. the fourth and last you hear from this morning is the author of the beautiful struggle and between the world and me which of course, won a national book award in 2015 and the recipient of the macarthur fellowship living in new york city with his wife and son. [applause] . >> funny doing fiction and how many stories begin with our
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weird ass parents. [laughter] as karen said and alluded to it does not do any justice to stand appear to summarize the book but i will say the story of an enslaved man with a memory who cannot remember his mother. you've got to read the book to find out why and where that goes. but finding out where that story came from and its actual origin to construct that myth than that need and that desire for me originates in two places before that begins with my weird ass parents. my dad is here. [laughter]
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i hope you enjoyed the book. [laughter] he is an interesting dude and that someday will be a book in and of itself but for me, what i remember as a five -year-old you have no understanding of your parents of what they love or et cetera and then there is a cartoon version and it was called the lone ranger tarzan. i love tarzan. i can remember being in the back seat of my parents read station wagon talking about how i could not wait to watch tarzan.
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my dad was like you cannot watch that. not only you cannot watch it you cannot watch tv. you cannot watch tv until you tell me what is wrong with cars and - - tarzan. what could be wrong with tarzan? for a week i tried to figure that out to. why is my dad to testing tarzan? i could not come up with an answer. then at the end of the week he took me through it and talked about him being king of the jungle. the role the other folks who lived in the jungle played. and this was a d+ in. when he spoke to me i got it right away. it was a myth and the role people like me played in the myth. and when i was a kid i was
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only allowed to have toys that had only black faces. like g.i. joe was the biggest toy in the world and i was confined to two of them. roadblock in stock or. that's it. [laughter] everybody had the new one that was inconvenient but once you get back on - - past the myth you want - - who gets to be a hero and who doesn't. even as a young man or as a young child there is no small creative denver endeavors but this is where i truly got it.
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and the cause of the civil war and at that point of time i was just getting curious about the civil war and why we believe the cause of the civil war as opposed to what the evidence shows. who believes the civil war was not about slavery? so this is plausible. so then i began to see that actual for those who inaugurated the civil war. that we are doing this because he likes slavery the constitution from the united states of america clearly outlines those who inaugurated the civil war.
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that very clearly states you can go to a battlefield across the country and they will argue up-and-down this is not about slavery. why? those facts are as clear as day. but what i realized is a parallel story that comes with that the story of robert e-lee and this confederacy in the story of a lost cause those that are memorialized all across the country and the reason people find it so hard that the facts violate to the myth. you have to let go of all of
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these heroes. the black panther movie came out and there is a guy on twitter and he tweeted how happy he was. wakonda does not exist. [laughter] okay? this is like a big thing for him will condit does not exist. what is he here for? go see the movie. so black people have this involvement? and then going through his twitter feed. so the force is fine.
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. >> jedi's do not exist in black panther does not exist in what became clear of all the notice in the comics of that people object to people of color. because this disrupts they are myth. often times looking at the world of myth and symbolism isn't anything from politics but what i quickly realize is that i could not convince anybody of a basic rational level until the myth was attacked. if you believe in the myth of a lost cause and black people were happy as slaves, and with
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the ceo of confederacy but on some fundamental level you don't believe black people are human beings. i will argue with you up one side and down the other if you don't believe i'm a human being then my fax have no meaning. and once i realize that i did before i started the story but right in the middle of it i got how political and radical and empowering it is with that myth of construction can be. and awareness politically there is a lot of things i would go out on a limb to say a majority of the people in this room object to.
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and there is a political movement obviously there are elections and activists doing things to oppose that but unless we can arrive at a vision of a world at a bone deep level that goes beyond journalism and fact-finding and history so unless we can arrive at that level that egalitarian vision of human beings a lot of things will not actually happen. that world where you try to get them on the same page to look at each other and truly believe that we are human. that is a world of myth. that is symbolism. that is the world of stories. the other story is not quite
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that boring. [laughter] thank you so much. [applause] . >> have we gone to the magic curtain now? . >> me will spend a few minutes just talking amongst ourselves. you're welcome to tune in. [laughter] and the questions that i have for you are not profound but meant to kill you up to talk about whatever you want to. one of the things i have been thinking about because you all have lots of books to your name which have already received a claim through your writing careers, about how you felt when you started and when
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you got your first book deal and whether you knew it would change your life to the extent that it has. because you are all a big deal now. >> i will jump in. my first contract i went to dorothy allison that i had written in an essay the worst thing that could happen is to be published. so in some ways i can see that because my goal for ten years was to write the kind of book that was worthy of being published and that was a full-time job for me in addition to my other jobs. so in a weird way achieving a goal is a horrible thing because then what is the next goal? so for me i just thought what i need to do is they will publish the book but i want to make sure every single book i write is the best i can write
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and i'm doing something different and interesting writing the story i want to tell, very lucky i have been able to do that a lot of people don't get to. it is a stupid thing to say because i understood the industry but it's just something i had to do was set another goal to compete with myself. >> i was supposed to be a doctor or lawyer or pharmacist or engineer or something really practical. so i did not tell my family i was writing. i was writing all the books on the side and never told my family. then all of a sudden i sell a romance novel and i was so excited. and so painfully shy and i did not tell anybody. i finally tell my folks.
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i don't think it will practice law. i will write full time because i have a book contract because that was foolish and insane but i did it. my mom said what you know, about romance? [laughter] my dad was convinced i would be homeless i think he still convinced i will be. so getting over that to take up space for myself taking a leap of faith was one of the hardest things i ever had to do. and it didn't really get easier. publishing is scary and hard and you never know what's going to happen. but taking that leap of faith over and over and now i've been doing this for a while i'm a little more sure of myself but refusing to give that up was one of the hardest things i have ever done. >> i was really excited.
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especially 2005 or 2006 we have a five or six -year-old kid and i have a $6000 check in the mail which was the portion of my advance at that point. which was a ton of money. a ton of money in the idea somebody would give you that to write was shocking to me. i'm always amazed and paid to write. i shouldn't say that too loud. [laughter] but for me it is a hobby. and the idea that i would receive renumeration for that is always incredible to me. so it is a real privilege. >> how do you feel about the difference between of essays and books and the idea that those are two categories from your career of a journalist
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and author and essayist what's the difference between the two and how something should be published along those lines? . >> that's a great question. the biggest thing for me is procedural. if i write something for the atlantic there are other people who are involved it is atlantic branded thing even if your name is on it but with books that is you. it really is you out there. and we have seen this recently with a couple of books much to the chagrin of a journalist who talks about fact checking , that is you. that is your name but not if you're writing within the structure. so really penguin and random
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house, they will not be happy about the fact that it hurts your name in a way and it doesn't in the world of magazines. >> you had a similar transition point moving from journalism to the form of book that you invented with your publishing career. >> the oddest thing was the notion book is permanent because i started at "the washington post" and by 10:00 anything that would appear in the paper that morning was over and nobody would read it again so i go to "the new yorker" you only read it again if you were sitting in a dentist office. [laughter] c would write something people react at the moment then you were home free if you are off.
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you read a book now people are still reading them. it is quite alarming. it's not what i signed up for. [laughter] . >> i have a little bit of a similar i mention that i write thousands of words a day for this dumb tv show that i do and i don't have any writers block at all when i write for my voice because if i write something wrong by the time i spit it out i can correct it and there is wiggle room but when you commit to the page in particular the bound page that is your reputation for life. there is no way to fix that in your enunciation or the ad lib. so it makes it much harder to commit for me to start. these two books and that's it. i swear. [laughter] but in both cases, felt like the book had boiled to the
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point it was curdling and killing me before i was willing to put it down because of that fear of commitment of making a permanent record do you struggle with writers block quick. >> i don't really. i think it's different because we do more books and we are expected a book a year. i feel like maybe i shouldn't worry about it being permanent now like i never did before. [laughter] i love my readers i value them but i never think about them when i'm writing because i only write the story i want to write so i'm lucky people want to read it but i'm also very arrogant about it. and i don't feel pressure i'm working on the 20th book now times - - it started when i was 13. so for me i just cannot be that way one thing i learned in college but i dropped out of college is i.c.e. at the
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kitchen timer for 20 minutes if i don't want to write when the buzzer goes off then i stop and i never stop i think either you're not ready for you have no imagination. >> yes. for about eight years i was on accelerated schedule writing two or three years per one - - novels per year but it took me some time and then i had to barrel through but eventually i realized the moments when i was getting stuck because the story veered off in a direction that it shouldn't in my unconscious was telling me take a moment. look at this. think. do you really want to do this quick she will go to a bad place if you do. that is my version. but with comics when it is
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done, it's done. but up to the point it goes to print you can tweak or revise. with a comic it sent to the artist that is it the artist draws the book because it is in a series if you write your first one by the fifth issue you realize you took a wrong turn somewhere, you are done. the art is drawn and you have to live with it. writers block takes on a whole different form and the visual medium. >> i teach writing now so i was so my kids i don't think that it exist. i think what is hard is when you have an idea in your head of what you want to produce on the page when you sit down to write it and there is a massive gulf between the two.
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maybe some on the panel who just sit down and everything is gold but normally everything starts off terrible. always. doesn't have to be rewritten just that is where the real writing happens is in the editing. it has to be terrible. the hardest thing is to be okay with that to sit down and in the moment to say this is awful. but if you can do that then it becomes hard to write because you can always improve and get down five pages and you should hopefully get two sentences and you build off those two sentences and those become a paragraph, then you get a page and then you have a book then you have to rewrite. [laughter]
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. >> i was lucky enough but then i got a job at "the washington post" you can work for a newspaper and have writers block. so you quickly learn how to write quickly and badly. so by the end i can no longer do it but i wrote so much so quickly that at the very end of my ten years covering a horrible event before we had computers you go there and call it in on the phone just like a tennis player hitting back this was 1200 word article from rolling stone. i can no longer do that of course, but doesn't make you want to try quick. >> no. [laughter] . >> picking up on what you just
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said, i wonder if the success you have had in the following you have found through your wor work, has unexpectedly contributed with your thoughts of your future work that you are currently involved in? when you hear from people that have read what you have written or how your work has affected your life, does it ever put you off your game? in my life where most people know me from television i find the way my show or my presence is not how i think of my own work and if something gets to me it makes me self-conscious about my daily work that isn't necessarily constructive because i can see my audience.
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because i can think about how this is being received just not presented. does that happen to you quick. >> when i first meet people in social situations i'm loath to tell them i am a writer not because they have a great book idea but because they always assume that they think i write cat books. [laughter] . >> there's nothing wrong with that. [laughter] yes. my facebook pages almost all cats. but who are you published by i will say harper carlin's and then lawn - - harpercollins and they say that's a real publisher so they don't take me seriously as a real human beings that's why don't tell people i'm a writer. but interacting with fans i block it out because they all have ideas what the book should be and what should happen and i write serious
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characters and what should happen and i just can't listen to them because the reason they like the book is because they are surprised and if i took their advice on writing then the books would not be very interesting. at least not to me and i want to be interested in what i'm writing. . >> i have to remind myself you don't actually hear from a representative sample of your audience. you hear from the extroverts that is a tiny fraction the kind of person willing to go off and say i like you i don't that is not normal. [laughter] because that is a tiny snippet of humanity. there's people who write letters to the editor.
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there are specific but then you go on book tour and people lineup to talk to you and then you hear 400 comments in a row spirit people shake your hand and want you to sign their book. >> i tried to screen dad out. i think selfishness is so key. let me flip this. any reader i don't want writers writing what they think i want to read. so people do have comments but i don't know. like asking me? how does such should end? so i feel the same way. so my sense and i could be wrong if you start writing by the committee even those who
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love your work the most you are probably done because even if they don't know it even if they wish it would go another way. >> that is so true and a woman working a lot of the comments are gendered but as women of color they are racialized. so if i pay attention to any of that, it will do a number on me. even when i was writing romance novels, people treated me like i had the iq of a snail. because romance novels are considered to be at the bottom of publishing. so i just learned to have a very thick skin and to embrace my freight basically - - freak.
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basically. >> it is intense especially for women i was at a summit and i asked everybody in the room had gotten death threats to raise their hand. three quarters of the room. and it wasn't me. so folks you absolutely cannot you really cannot. >> my favorite comment is when i was in houston a woman pulls up in a mercedes and gets out in the chanel suit with her hair done perfectly and she comes marching in and spots me and says i love your work. and i have read absolutely everything you have done. [laughter] . >> that is what i call my republican fan club. [laughter]
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. >> one last question feel free to take it wherever you want especially if it is a dumb question but in reading your most recent works and knowing about your publishing histories that you are in the midst of a career for each of you that is already very accomplished. and with those pages and then to build on that paragraph as ta-nehisi coates was saying but did you think that would be a wrong turn as you come to your senses to realize you cannot go there? did they surface for you in
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the first place because they should be written? i have first paragraph and then to write a novella out of them it is a form of therapy
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whether mixed-race the idea that these mother-daughter relationships are very complicated i work these things out in my book over and over again this again. here is part of my unconsciousness. i don't keep drafts because i do it on the computer by the time i sit down a very clear what i want to write and the series books as a whole that
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is the things that are occurring in the book that are changed or altered and to be very black and white and now embracing the gray. and i do write a lot about incest i blame the library and who gave me flowers in the attic for that. [laughter] i grew up on that and general hospital where luke raped laura than they had a beautiful wedding. so i am shaped by pop-culture but that is a guiding principle of rape and incest in my work i am sure about that when i ride at.
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and then to kill other men and i just don't care about men killing men so i changed at around realizing how how they don't work in that vice versa and then to realize it is perfect or one of those episodes this season and a sociologist in the seventies and has a mobster to hang around for a couple of years
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and then embed himself. but i mention this in a new yorker article that then i go back to my podcast i was asking completely different set of questions. then all of a sudden and then and the character of this guy francis and did not discover through "the new yorker" at least with romulus and remus and then has baby alligator. and some weird story about driving the family across in a vw bus and the bus breaks down in the middle of the desert
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when you think about a different form and that's fun to have more than one outlet for the story. >> i see that in the news business and that there can be an access journalist and i am in the latter category that if i encounter people in a non- working environment or learn things about them i am incapable of recognizing things so i feel like it is best to know anybody to be called upon not from 9:00
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msnbc. that is it thank you so much it is an incredible honor to talk with all of you all of these books are a big deal. i appreciate it. [applause] [inaudible conversations]


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