tv 2019 Southern Festival of Books CSPAN October 12, 2019 3:01pm-5:02pm EDT
>> will commute this afternoon i am live in alexander i am chair of humanities tennessee board of directors. we are very glad we are here at this festival today. the festival is free but it depends on donations from people like you to keep it that way. if you know enjoying the festival, and you enjoy the session and you have a chance, if you look at our website, our facebook page, the app or go by the tenth in the plaza, we would love to have you help support the festival. after the session, paul will be signing books at the signing tent that is on the plaza and the books are for sale at the parnassus tent and a portion of
those to sales go directly to the festival. we are here today, to hear paul talk about his latest book. he has published numerous works of fiction. in 1991, he was awarded the james black memorial prize. this was for his work the mosquito coast which was adapted into a movie in 1986. after moving to london in 1972, he said often in epic journey by train from great britain to japan and back. his account of this journey was published as a great railroad or railway bazaar. it was his first major success as a travel writer. it is now considered a classic in the genre. he has since written a number of
books including deep south in 2015, which details for road trips he took in southern states in the u.s. he has written that travel is less about landscapes and about people. i think we'll find that's really true in his latest book. on the plains of things. it focuses on the people as much as on mexico itself. it is a great journey south of the border so we welcome today paul. going to have a conversation about his book and i think for monday of us, the question to begin with is why did you decide to go to mexico. was there something in particular that appealed about it. >> paul: thank you so much for
being here and it's a pleasure to be back in nashville. i was here four years ago i believe. i thought had been to nashville a number of times and i hadn't realized passing through just stopping briefly what a rich cultural tradition you have in the number of cultural activities you have. i went to the opera and i went to a ballgame and i went to obviously hurt some country music you got a great museum. this is absolutely wonderful city to come back to. thanks to your hospitality and thanks to doctor alexander. i should also say i will ask you in a minute. before what we were chatting about here were books and doctor alexander teaches victorian literature. i don't know if you're interested in that but doctor alexander is the reader and i
feel as if we made an immediate connection talking about stephenson, charles dickens, the dark about frankenstein just a moment ago. i would say when reader meets another reader, they have a friend. very pete few people read deeply. they might read a book stephen king or god bless them, [laughter] but if you read deeply in literature, doctor alexander's field is victorian literature which is very thick. includes henry james, stephenson, conrad, and amazing names. and and more twain two. that is just one of the pleasures of live is reading and other pleasure in live is writing. and the reason i went to mexico was i was working on a novel and i had a chance to go to novalis,
arizona. if any of you have been to novalis, and slaves. eight to ten people. great. nice little town. novalis, arizona. as a big fence beside it. [laughter] and at the end of the road, borrowed or something like that, the big fence. and you look across the fence it is mexico and there's a torn fence. i have written 11 travel books. i've never been to a country where at the edge of the country, the border of the country there is a fence. it's just the most amazing site. do you know that the artist christo, strange constructions rubbing of a building or, the fence looks like christo designed it. at 30 feet high, because up-and-down and it is the most
wonderful looking thing. it's cut so it kinda weird thing but is an amazing piece of sculpture. it doesn't keep people out and it doesn't, really surf any practical function. it scares people and looks like more of a country if you go to the border of india and pakistan there is a fence. kenya got to the fence. china and russia, no fence. when a security officer be obviously in the border. he can't have people just screaming across walking across, this a good anybody. i went to the door the fence. it is the most amazing experience. this like alice in wonderland. the open the door and go through the turnstile and a width of the fence and i was in mexico. but everything on the side of the fence was the usa and everything on the side of the fence was misko. mexican food spanish-language music, dentists, because if you have bad teeth, go there.
you through the fence, back in america where snakes are more expensive, and people are speaking english. the dramatic experience of going through this fence, made me think there is a foreign country right next door. all you have to do is go to the fence. so is working on a novel but then the president began making discouraging remarks about mexico. raper his murders the ring drugs and crime. the people were agreeing, yes yes. so what he was describing was a stereotype. while there are stereotypes to the chinese, americans, indians and pakistanis, stereotypes and the reason we travel, and the reason you read travel books, is to discover the subtleties and the stereotype it's not true.
countries are full of variations people. when trump said that, might have this experience again. everyone is talking about the border. the border of the water when we do about the work. that of an offense, that i about the women. keep them out. so i thought, i'm going to get a car and use my car and drive from, i live in cape cod, massachusetts. albright from cape cod to mcallen texas in the went west analytics. the back-and-forth of the border. really from tijuana to measure morris. sunday go to princeville. actually went to bully tina which is the end of the rio grande. and then went deeper into mexico. i would as far as you can go. but all of the way, i would make stops. the top for a while in mexico city, and i studied spanish in
oaxaca. all of this work road trips. when i tell people is going to mexico and is going to drive there, yet their reaction was. they said don't do it. are you insane, you will die. you have a death wish ? the people of the thing that to my whole live. [laughter] joined the peace corps in 1963 went to africa. no incentives going to die. but they did ask wire going to africa 1963. it is actually wonderful experience. curiosity and destroying the stereotype in the whole country talking about mexico but not really describing her going there. and thought i can bring back market describe my experiences there and maybe elected people of it at the same time i don't have a job so what else am i going to do [laughter] but also,
i'm an old gringo, so how long am i going to be driving my car. we get to my edge, you need to renew your license every two years. and you pass the eye test. so not become a time when it will be able to do it. i haven't some of them advice than what will i do. i going to do these snakes before your time it's out. and the other thing, leslie, as an older person, there are some older people my edge here perhaps. we don't get a lot of respect. older people in those states, go to the dr. the dr. said or the assistant says paul the dr. will be with you in a moment. sample. >> i met you before. why are you calling me paul. want to mr. perrault. then there's a role that you can call them by last name whatever. show them respect.
his try to give me down that is becoming invisible is older person. kind of annoyed by it like known as advertising advertising and is aimed at the young. education, everything politics everything is aimed at the young. the buyer the encoder, what about us. what about me. the first express and misko was respect in the older people are respected in mexico you are spoken to with a formal you, a status, how are you sir. that is different from hey paul take those seat doctor will be with you. [laughter] >> very different >> all of those are reasons i'm not going to write a piece of national geographic, or make a living i want to go to like fall
travel, to keep on living my live. that's a long made it through but that's has informed all of the travel victim. host: i'm going to touch on a couple of snakes that you have an made it through. the first section in your book, you talk about several of the people that you meet in the detention camp. in particular, you talk about maria, she is the mother of three and she is quietly staying a prayer over her meal. i wonder if you can talk to us a little bit about your impressions of the camps the people who are there. we hear a lot of scams, newspapers and television and wonder if you would share your impressions with us.
>>. paul: is the democrat who is the refugee, how would you describe in an immigrant. of your politician, it's a mexican coming press to get welfare or to take advantage. the sister job. i discovered mexicans are the least. mexican immigration is way down. if they come across it all, are going to clean a hotel room, where it work in a meatpacking plant. pick strawberries in fresno. join a boyfriend or husband and work as a roofer. putting up drywall, doing masonry, monday screaming pools, that's all the general mexican people coming across legal or illegal. when document or whatever. that's them. there are others. they are called special interest
aliens. do any of you know this term. special interest aliens. trainees, pakistanis, nigerians, chinese, angolans, iraqis, afghans, syrians, and how they come across. paying money. a chinese potential immigrant will pay the cocktail number $50000 in the cocktail member will lead him through the tunnel if you want, and came across. and collect 50 grand. or 60 granderson to grant. the prisons in arizona, and new mexico are filled with special interest aliens. indians. politicians go down there and say, check out the mexicans in prison. and they find pakistanis. hundreds of them. then there are of course the central america who come from brutalized countries on doris and salvador guatemala,
wallace's and escaping that. that's a whole another group and you could put those in the human rights can bring. but the chinese or indian tycoons, are paying a lot of money. the human rights, so do you say, you are going to give them sanctuary in your church. come, you pay the money in your being arrested or whatever. we will shelter you because you are immigrant. he goes from a very wealthy immigrants who want to pay money to come across to people who are completely desperate who are screaming across her walking across the desert. the woman that i met, was a woman with three children is like sophie his choice. she had three children and her husband has been head of editor. she had no money. no money and monica is, it is the same at kenya or bangladesh.
it's roughly $3400 a year per capita income. so is very low. they come from villages that have little water supply and no topsoil. nothing really. people against the elements. that is why. so she was very poor. she was very tired. i was very struck and she was crying like this. there's a picture of priding hope. no money and she just wants to work her head off to send some money back and then leave and go back because she's got nothing. but the others, somebody comes from syria, they sold the house in about thousands. must you get from syria to mexico city to the water across here illegally. you need some money. the migrants come in some of them have a lot of money the cartel son of own the borders you know. and others are desperate.
there isn't an immigrant, is the whole spectrum. this is why you can't stereotype them. but something needs to be done obviously something needs to be done. this is experience i had. you start looking at the situation and you think as you do traveling and he can pressure come as soon as you can trade in deeper, you think this is a lot more complicated than i thought it was going to be. i write a book about it. so that's where a book comes from. not that i had a wonderful time in cancún and taco in mexico, is the great vacation and that's very nice. but a road trip in mexico, is the much more serious affair and very rewarding. the mix mexicans are so hospitable. host: one of the places that you
stayed for a while. was missus sick mexico city. you taught a writing class there. you talk about your students. he worked with in that class in mexico city, could you share a little bit about your experiences with the students and what attracted you. paul: one thing about being a traveler, you know a parasite. going to a place and staying here i am, i'm hungry, i'm tired and needs of food and a place to stay in any different. what are you going to do. there is a certain, you know showing up in this foreign country. i thought, i want to do something. i would peace corps volunteers background. i've got to give something. so hits impreza mexico city, and i said, i want to teach a class in mexico city in writing to students who are really good
writers but they want to go make the next step. not teenagers or high school, experience wise. this big little english and maybe to publish a book. off of for nothing and i will bring books with me in spanish. my books. i will drive there. and you can't charge them anything. i'll just show up and do it. pro bono. i am retired, i am old, it's a master class. what also i got to do. they were very pleased. so i got between 25 and 30 students. there are 25 students and there were five that just sort of shared up. some 30 people men and women. very experienced in some extremely good writers. some of one prices in spain and mexico. when i shared up, they said here i am and got some books for you,
this in mexico city and a beautiful day. you saw the beautiful beautiful city and roma. this was in roman history. roma. he said he drove. cape cod to houston to beaumont to nashville and so forth. i did come near here. we do not sell down. and i said, where, mcallen, then reynosa and they said you into reynosa. he said is the most dangerous city on the border. he said it is pretty dangerous. but how dangerous and they said it's wicked. i said well here i am. so i got points are driving. [laughter] i said what i am trying to show you is first that i need friends in mexico and you are my friend. i will teach you.
also i want to show you that were on the same road. you leave my house and sandwich massachusetts and drive south of 95 and then 81 and then down 40 and all of the way down through munro bill and bouma. whitney texas, partington and so forth. reynosa mexico city. it is the same road. billy fared to go north and i could go south. we are all on the same road. culturally as a few months on the earth, and people in the western hemisphere, our fortunes are linked, where the same road there. you make stuff, chevrolets and using them up. we said step down. whatever it is. so i said, we are neighbors. so that was the class. they said what can we do. i said help me improve my spanish, take me to places that
i like to go, dangerous places may be. just me to people. they said where. so we had lunch, class lunch, we spoke spanish when you're in lunch and they said what he wanted to. i said let's go to a museum or anything. they said let's do this this good this museum. there's a saint in mexico saint debt. in his new cult. holy death. a skeleton the sign. and worshiped, very fast-growing faith. worshiped by people who have nothing. but holy death doesn't. you don't have to do penance, no heaven no will read she will help anybody. the cartel, everyone. so this is dangerous. so i went. i said i would like to spend some time with the set pieces
who are the revolutionaries and choppers. they arranged it. the last pit of my book, i visited there and i stayed with them and give a little speech at one of their secret meetings. but the main man. at that one is. as i had 30 friends. thirty mexican friends. i had respect. i had earned respect. and so as an older person, your man of judgment. or people of judgment. i had earned respect. i'm a t-shirt. so i'm pablo. just a guy in a car. suddenly i had friends. and that is how you write about. so the book arose out of that. it wasn't just a trip to the chicken with dragon said that i
had some food sorry niacin, i got sick netiquette well. it's not that. it was part of my live, very rich part of my live. becoming a t-shirt. it happened to be in africa, when i was a piece or all interior. at other little school. as a t-shirt, and the bush and mullally, in a village, the whole village was my friend. they would do anything for me. they were my protectors and at that time there were animals, hyenas over they would bring me snakes. here's a bursar bursar. we covered. our chicken, here is the bird sir. by working there and living there and putting up with pretty much the same stuff that they are putting up with. i had friends. that is how you get through live. that is how books are written. you can always tell the superficial book from one that
is been lived. and i felt that might happen lived. i think. host: is very rich. sorry rich in its detail and its description of people and places. at this., i would like to open this up to questions from people in the audience. we ask that if you have a question, you use the microphones. this is so everybody can hear the question. would anybody like to ask. paul: let me ask you a question. how monday of you up into mexico. look at that that's amazing it's 80 percent of the room. how monday have been to campus. the border city. quite a few.
look at that, morris had the world record for the most murders in 2010. they had thousands of murders. host: innovative compare and contrast with rrs el paso. because there right across the border. one of the snakes i found interesting was that you did this a couple of times, talking about the effect of the wall on these border cities both the mexican and the american side of the particularly the mexican side and how being cut off from the tourists to a certain extent and it's harder now to cross but also less of a concern of safety. >> the one i can't minimize the
dangers in mexico because the cartels are very active. there fighting each other for territory. they're trying to get the turf were people get across and drugs get across in guns from the inside. all guns from mexico come from here. you can't buy a gun in mexico. actually on obama, it was called the paris program really had guns that they allowed mexicans to buy guns on our side of the border and the idea was that they would be traced. how monday are you familiar with eric the attorney general. the buck stops there. but they never release the document. the border patrol agent help with one of those guns.
in the border patrol agent, they will reference it. the other aspect of the border is that hundreds of thousands of mexicans, cross the border every day to work in factories or hotels in el paso and you go to used car dealer, it will be mexicans. they have crossed that day in el paso who are selling you the used car and then at 5:00 o'clock, that car or get a bus and go across the border. because it's cheaper to live. same with tijuana. a lot of people work in san diego for the towns santa zero, the other border, 11 tijuana they press every day. we crossed the border, yet to bear in mind that there will be
hundreds of people a very long line theater to get into trust. these are people with fees as you come across. the close the border, every border city in the united states, will be denied labor. they will not have people working. and they won't have people buying. so the border it's not a solid fence that where the people are just thriving on each side. there's actually a lot of back and forth back and forth back and forth, that is understood. and as i said, another thing you need to be regulated, you can't simply walk into a country and assume they walk in and say here i am but the idea that the bailey live the people of the border is related to their ability to cross it. as workers. so that's another thing. it is difficult, and you need to
actually be in the line early in the morning and the thousands cross the cause. in a night going in the other direction. the one thing that people don't do, is what i did which is apply for the border vehicle. i found to get insurance, there is no line. to get a vehicle importation, there is no line. it's just there though say just go to that window and you pay. the only problems i had in mexico, with the police. the police on my license plate and they thought there's a gringo, and do i have a toyota four runner. in a nissan four-wheel-drive secondhand nissan. thinking that if somebody steals with a it's okay. i don't want anybody selling my four runner. the fact when they saw my nissan
massachusetts plates, this copse on four occasions stop me and said you've got license plate. and since it was the problem and they said you shouldn't be driving here. you need mexican place. i shared them up late papers. what you want. what they want money. i do pay them. i mentioned this in a newspaper interview. people were scolding me staying you offered a bribe. i have been bribing people my whole live. [laughter] in india, nothing moves in india at money. you buy something something restring something. somebody will be a favor. africa the same thing. in nigeria - system.
you do something and what about my. gimme something. bali indonesia, paradise poly. this so long start short version is that i wanted to write. he said your passports going to expire. we do for a living, i said i retired. so i paid money. i'm a retired gringo. he said what you are living. i'm a retired schoolteacher. while it's a live, but it's not real live. [laughter] so in bali, indonesia, said to the guy, i am a t-shirt. so when you are a t-shirt, they recalibrate the rhyme. [laughter] so it actually, the guiding folly, how monday have you been to bali. a great place. bribe central.
nye said, dancing girl, you don't because it is corrupt but like the fixer who took me to my hotel said what happened. i said you know what happened. what you talking about. is it you know any said how much was it. i gave him a hundred bucks. the guy said if you don't pay me i'm going to put you on the next plane. so that i gave a hundred bucks i said okay is on box. excessive enough, by the way my wife, but god through pretty inconvenient guess my wife is here but okay, we'll explain on the year. he said i will check. he said you are lucky. you are lucky because there's a guy here who mayday thousand. 900. this is where was he from, russia or china.
in the energy business. the stupid guy said i'm in the oil business and they said okay. [laughter] you are lucky. i'm not lucky, i've been here before with the right thing. i hate bribes. i hate the system but happens in one forum or another, this drives all of the place. the former governor of illinois is in prison for that very thing. speedo one of the places you talk about and where you met people. host: could you tell a soul pit more about that area. paul: sort of a culturally rich as but economically the poorest.
like kenya. that's not much money. they have the music and food there is a truism. the past survives and is poor. if you go to a very poor village, or town in tennessee, they likely still playing music they paid late hundred years ago. why. they don't have money to leave and they just keep it. there in one spot. they are so poor. in maine, you hear people, they are very poor in the state of maine. meiners. and they have deep roots. in a culture is intact in the same way. the past of a place, survives and is poor. i'm not romanticizing poverty and just staying the ditto place like this and where people are
very poor they still have the traditions and their music and food and they don't have money. you could say or not poor, which still have any money. so spent a lot of time there. with doctor alexander reference was a san prisco tornado who was at the time, he died a month ago. lucky me. i was introduced to him and we headed off me was the same edge as me. it was mexico's greatest living paper. honest. in an activist two. very anti- gmo crops, very anti- his own government. think about trump for the united states, their focus on their government. so meeting him, he is from which it on, which had an earthquake. they are still recovering from
the earthquake. a very good one. hundreds and hundreds died in buildings knockdown. does anyone know the name francisco, tornado. as a chapter in the book about him. the smithsonian magazine, in july, june or july. piece by me about him which illustrated his work. which ceramics sculpture iron sculpture paintings drawings everything is just wonderful painter. it met him and spent a lot of time with them. he epitomized oaxaca, he really and i is for money. anybody and he made snakes that sold for millions. if you look up to that of, toledo, ohio. look up auction prices millions.
he establishes libraries, is the library just for black people. when his library. his way this was live. their walkout and is just for white people. as a publishing house, another library of paintings and images graphic art and the like. our in books. he started soup kitchens need it money and he dresses, they simply live very simply. he gives his money away. if you saw him or where you you live, you would say this guy is on a fixed income. actually he is the multi millionaire who did good work. with his money. and i like him, or relate to anyone was my edge which is 70 plus because being lyft through
the same. civil rights movement, vietnam war, i was in vietnam as a journalist. music bob dylan, kennedy, but of eisenhower to maybe and its same turbulence. that i can totally relate to. james baldwin same folks. and we talked a lot about it. it been in france so toledo was for the aspect of him, the richness of mexico, you meet someone comedies will read a great artist and above all, hospitable friendly and funny human being. just tonight. no attitude. just a busy guy working most of the time and we were talking and i similar the same edge, he said you are healthier for me. the center come on. they said no i've got a bad heart. but enough, when i wrote the
article in the smithsonian, came out in june his wife said francisco his very happy with the article he wants to give you something. i said well thank you very much what. she said painting. g-77 paintings. he sick me a painting. she said and pay for the dhl. missus fabulous painting by him. a month later he was dead. so that's a mexican story which is the guy with a heart of gold serious artist and activist. he was when mcdonald's wanted to build the mcdonald's franchise outlet in his the middle of oaxaca, agent oaxaca, 500 years of mexican spanish traditions. make donald's old archers be right there.
he said if you do that, on strip naked and i'm going to go naked and handout mollies. [laughter] a whole bunch of people and they said you even start building this thing, this monstrosity where the food is great were going to go naked and they had the tamale. like when the college, and art project this projects going to be naked tamale. [laughter] and people were against it. they were seeing tamale see hamburger snow. tamale see hamburger snow so that was about ten years ago or so. so that's something. i mentioned in the book and i mentioned another artist there
who said it was made. roll going to do it. that's another matter mexican story. but the painting, one of the times when we're talking, was occupied he said, this is an example of his generosity. it is just finding it painting. any sieves of bronco shrimp. anything you like trump i said i love trump. so give me the picture. so i slain that. that just doesn't happen. the color my feeling about mexico, of course. it wasn't all sweetness and live. i had a lot of different experiences and there in the book. host: that's one of the snakes i really liked about the book. it is good the bad beautiful the ugly, it was all there.
it is a well-founded trip. one place that you talk a lot about that we haven't really talked much about is kappa. can you tell me a little bit about it. paul: chapa, the state about chapa. have any of you have saw the movie treasurer of the place. do you know who the author is. exactly right. the triton. where was born. mysterious guy though right. so hit two or three identities. the drive in. his name was actually auto they think they know where he was orbiting wife he also wrote a book called the bone board, liquors the cost and picture,
the cotton pickers. anyway it was an anarchist and left us and went to mexico and wrote the treasurer of syria monday. he wrote five books in chiapas. but he was a radical and revolutionary who went there in a number of different identities. he wrote a book about the death ship i highly recommend him. he's not a great writer but his stories are great. it's very funky. maybe in german it makes sense but translations the writing. this book. no one ever knew who he was. anyway, he is writing about chapa his 1920s, and even before. so it's always been a place where very very impoverished communities of indians living in the forest. people want the timber, or they
minerals there. and still the case. for years and years, and actually ever since the spanish, when spanish, fuse years after they were to drop us and taxes. the local indians were chuck - were not going to pay you. there are some major battles in the 1530s, the 1540s against spanish. so they had a number of people who tried to describe it or save them. the most recent, is the man with a group of people who 1981 when into the jungle. they call themselves the. how monday are you are familiar. very interesting group. it's not like, castro took over
cuba in about a month after they went in, it through in the basically went through them but he does of salt. they took over. it took over the government. that was castro. relatively quick resolution. revolution. from 1980 went to 1990, 1994. in villages, learning the language, the ancient mayan languages, trying to figure out what the people wanted. they knew they were oppressed and the mexican government was taking their land away. so the land a lot of native people of the world, land is it something you sell. native americans never sold their land. they got away in massachusetts make them up some muskets and
give them some land. thus the story of massachusetts is about pilgrims or refugees from england colonials say amma giving them some pathetic thing and then getting land. so in the book mayflower same in hawaii. they had firearms. the firearms were credit the key thing in taking or material objects. plus his hands. same chapa. that didn't work. the government taking land they thought were going to protect these people. they thought, that the local people encompass, thinner protect themselves. so 11 years past dozen years past actually, and on
january 1st, 1994, a group of horsemen came out of the jungles very dramatic. they were wearing masks. enhanced we came out and read a book proclamation impossible staying with people jobless, we demand that the mexican government listen to us, you can't take our land for the and more, there is another abomination taking place. they were totally against nasa. they thought as a flirtation. even now factories across the border are learning a pathetic lot of money a buck an hour. and the conditions are terrible.
gmo crops are going in. naturally the response was fight them. so there battles. i thought they were honorable people read one respective part of the ira in islands, the uta in ireland. the data in spain. red guards infection in germany. it shows civilians. name a revolutionary group you wrote and south america, he killed civilians. 5000 people were killed. on the mainland. the ira thought nothing of blowing up people in a bar or pub market square. he never killed a civilian. they fought the mexican army.
in the mexican army were killing civilians. writing about them in talking to them, but this is the group of people i would like to get acquainted with just to hear what they're knowing. i'm not staying there are peace corps volunteers there very tenacious and i visited some communities i was impressed. they had schools. so they asked me to speak at one of their gatherings and i did so. i talked about the mortar. maybe 400 people in the village. 250,000 people in the community and the collet colonia and one high school. so essentially i'm selling a nafta. it's great thing, wonderful thing. but one pathetic school for a court million people. that's all right.
i'm not staying it is all bad but it's complicated. a consciousness of and writing about topics, other people have written about it but he wrote about it a lot. german exile living in mexico city. it is very dead by the way. commandant take marcos amber marcus in the book. it was a great experience and little me meeting the revolutionary. so i thought, slightly ejector exaggerated found this part, if you prove you know a serious person you are not going to mock them and you are seriously interested, he said to me don't make this an anecdote. come back again. find out more. you are welcome. no one is ever seen him that went out a mask. horse people. when they come, hundreds of them
some pretty impressive actually. host: thank you very much. [applause]. paul: thank you for being here and coming in being readers. if your you would like me to send a book or two. host: start the cell at the tent. books are for sale at the tent. you are watching the southern festival of books. live in nashville. just a few minutes, sadie jones will reflect on his live. and generous thoughts on gender and identity. while we wait, here's a look at last weekend his author interview program afterwards. with washington times national security columnist builders.
on china's efforts to become a military and economic superpower. >> this is one of the areas where china is ahead of the united states. the united states military recently set up a new brand-new space command. guess what, they have no weapons. lisa weapons that we know of. china on the other hand, has an array of very lethal and capable anti- satellite weapons. we first learned this back in 2007, when china tested the ground launch missile call the direct dissent missile which targeted a weather satellite, a chinese weather satellite. the impact from the satellite and i spent an entire chapter exciting of the chinese live about that. that is very characteristic of the approach. with satellite, created tens of thousands of pieces of floating debris which are going to threaten both manned and unmanned spacecraft for probably 50 to a hundred years. china learned from that lesson
and they took a little bit of heat in the international community is on the second thing that they developed ground-based lasers. they can attack and orbiting satellite according to the experts i talk to. is to use a ground-based laser. a high-powered laser not you have to do to disable or destroy and orbiting satellite is to warm up the electronics or damage the sensors or the optical cameras on those snakes and not a business. that went out debris field. in addition to both thistles and lasers, they also developed a co- orbital satellites. the highlight of the books on the tested a group of small satellites. one of which had a robotic arm which could reach out and grab or crush a satellite or knock it out of orbit. this is an impressive array of weaponry. again they have been developing it from before 2007, and the
u.s. is now try to catch up. >> your book really documents monday areas like that in fact, in the digital area and cyber attacks, you begin with a quote in this case come from the 1940s. so i worry that. to achieve victory i must be as far as possible make the enemy blind and deaf by sealing his aisles eyes and ears. and drive his commanders to distraction by creating confusion in their minds. sorry like that statement cyber. and chinese cyber goals. >> the chinese stripe cyber threat is another one of their asymmetric capabilities where they're on par or ahead of the united states. they have done a massive job of developing the ability to get inside of networks and control networks. everything from our military networks that tell what kind of
logistics were going to need a full going to troops and equipment to battlefront. to our financial networks and most of arm the chinese cyber threat has been detected inside of our electrical grid. again, they call this cyber reconnaissance. in other words they are mapping networks. the united states has roughly three elected power grids. chinese have been detected in not three in the belief is among the military is that in a crisis or conflict, they could basically turn out the lights. now we have 16 critical infrastructures in addition to her electric red, financial communications, transportation, we do really come down to it, the most critical infrastructure is our electric grid. that goes down, we are in deep deep trouble. >> and a scale of one to ten and ten being the most concerning, where are we on that scale in terms of a continued future with
the chinese cyber attack. i went. >> i would say the chinese threat is between seven and eight and growing. >> afterwards is every weekend at 10:00 p.m. eastern and 9:00 p.m. eastern and specific on sundays. you can watch this episode of afterwards with guards anytime visiting our website booktv.org. clicking on the afterwards tab at the top of the page. book tv has live coverage of the southern festival of books from nashville tennessee starting sunday at 1:00 p.m. eastern. at two eastern authors susan discusses her book, learning from the germans. former u.s. ambassador to the united nations, some of the powers talk about her book the education of an idealist. david katie, religion of fear as his book. be sure to watch our live it weekend of the southern festival of books.
so excited to chat today with saeed jones about his newly released memoir "how we fight for our lives". he is also author of prelude to bruise which is winner of the 2015 pan joyce oscar award for poetry and the 2015 stonewall barbara giddings literature award. the poetry collection is also a finalist for the 2016 national book critics circle award as well as awards from land to literary and publishing triangle in 2015. saeed served as cohost of buzzfeed's morning show a.m. to p.m. and also served as buzzfeed's lgbt and culture editor.he was born in memphis tennessee and grew up in lewisville texas. he earned a ba at western ãb he lives in new york city and tweets at the ferocity. thank you for being here saeed >> thank you so much.
[applause] >> as a side note the southern festival of books remains completely free because of strong community support and we want to keep it that way. >> love it. >> you can donate on the web www.humanities tennessee.org. or the collection plate passed around. >> i love that. >> saeed is going to read for us we will have a q&a when you get to thequeen ãbwhen you get the q&a please use the microphone. then we will open for questions. >> thank you so much. ;-) for being here. thank you nashville. thank you to the festival. this is just a real joy. i'm excited to share my story with you. i'm going to read what i call the sex drugs and rock 'n' roll chapter of the book so what you
need to know is the book is basically in four acts and we will talk about the journey that gets us to the ãbat the time i had dreadlocks that were long enough that when i put my shirt on i could ãbi cut them off as soon as i get into grad school. december 31 2007 phoenix arizona a joke i used to repeat in those days why be happy when you can be interesting. i knew how to be interesting. there was power in being a spectacle even a miserable spectacle. the punch and the line.
interesting.sentences like serrated blades, laughter like machine gun rounds, drink in one hand, borrowed cigarette in the other. if you could draw enough glances, any room could orbit around you. that new year's eve i want to put a party that was exactly like every party i had ever been to and i hooked up to a pair of speakers and awkward costume theme i tried and failed to adhere to and apartment with white people. the only differences i was getting wasted in phoenix arizona instead of bowling green kentucky. the few days i had been there i headed concluded that arizona was perhaps the widest place i had ever visited. it was like stepping onto the surface of a very well lit moon. the parties theme was the future which is why more than half the people in attendance were wearing some combination of synthetic fabric, aluminum
foil and sunglasses. i had not known there would be a theme and the only other shirt i had packed was a blue calico button down so i put my dreadlocks into two pigtails and kept telling everyone i was dorothy. no one found this in any way strange because of course this was the future. all bets are off in the year 2075. over the last few years college parties like this one i had been an ice queen, i had been plato with a boy just as aristotle in 20, a hot pink ncgligce all nuns wear under their robes. i had been dorothy from kansas. think poppy flowers, woven into my dreadlocks. maybe a theme like the future was supposed to get us to wonder, starry eyed what the future would look back but i couldn't find it in myself elected wonders whether there would be a future left for any of us. a black man was running to
become president of the united states america and i was checking the news every morning anxious half expecting to read he had been assassinated. lately i have been calling less and hadn't even told my mom i was going to be in phoenix for holiday. what happened to you saeed? you used to smile. i stared at the professor blankly and then remembered this was the part where i was supposed to cry. so i cried stop this was a future i would have to figure out on my own but i didn't want to think about it. at least for one more night i wanted to dance at a huge messy party and get blackout drunk. in this particular version of the future i was one of three out gay men at the party and the other two were dating each other. [laughter]
and they are still dating each other. [laughter] maybe even married. [laughter] but i would find a way. i wanted to spend the night in someone else's body, or let someone borrow mine. for the first few hours of the party either i didn't notice him or the man who would later try to kill me simply had not arrived yet. all night i was a terrific bright black mess. i stopped, slinked and sauntered in and out of the kitchen to refill my cup or do shots. i shouted orders about songs that should be added to the parties playlist. out on the porch smoking cigarettes then passing around a blunt i stared at an orange
tree just out of reach until i finally plucked off a fruit. it seemed miraculous, oranges in the dead of winter. then i realized the unseen site of the fruit was rotted. ants pouring out of the ruined like ink. looking back, i can see how someone might see me that night and argue that i had it coming. that i had a man like him coming. if that someone was america herself, i can understand how she might rattle off a warning, that black boy has been too hungry for too long one of these nights is going to bite off more than he can chew. i will say for myself america, i did the best with what i was given. the man, let's call him daniel, looked familiar when i saw him from across the room as if each part of him had been borrowed from some other boy or man i had wanted. leaning against the wall passionately sipping a beer he was the kind of quiet i have
noticed in certain men and long hungered for. the silence of men who have it all and thus find it all boring. who don't exert the energy necessary to flirt, persuade, or convince because they know america will come crawling to them on hands and knees. i realize now that what i wanted was not just the bodies of such men, but their power. what they could use that power to do to the rest of us. the brutal exertion of will destiny made manifest by the unspoken threat their muscle bodies and white skin posed. i hungered for the power of the all-american man. the marlboro man and the marlboro man's firstborn son the high school quarterback. the company's future ceo, ernest hemingway, john wayne,
odysseus, hercules, achilles, the shield itself, the stonecutter architect, the everyman. the golden boy. the one. if i could not actually be the one myself, i thought i could survive by devouring him whole. the more straits the more masculine, the more i wanted to see him with his legs spread or up back arched in an orgasm that did not just bring him pleasure, but a warning. in spite of the man you say you are, in the future i live in man like me are coming to conquer you. and we will take no prisoners. this is what i thought it meant to be a man fighting for his life. if america was going to hate me for being black and gay, then i might as well make a weapon out of myself. thank you.
>> just incredible. just incredible. wow. i can even. i was going to reread the last line but that's incredible. if america was going to hate me for being black and gay then i might as well make a weapon out of myself. this reminds me of ralph ellison's invisible man in which the narrator otherwise known as invisible man describes bumping into people to violently remind them that he was there since they decided they don't like what he is and refused to see him. can you talk about the period in which you thought that fighting for your life meant inflicting pain on others. >> you see me struggling, clearly with a lot in this
book. into the bright black mess. what you don't see is i never was like, do i like boys? it took a while for me to have the language. it took a while for me to even be able to pick, what is it like when two men are together? my first few fantasies you see in the book i dream i'm a woman having sex with a boy i have a crush on because i can't even visualize it. but i never was questioning that desire. i just remember being angry. marriage equality at that time was a fantasy. i mention barack obama, it seemed as likely as a black man becoming president or elizabeth warren becoming president one day. i love her. i really do. at the time to be gay means you never get married. you never did have children. never to be able to bring your loved one to thanksgiving or christmas. you are saying goodbye to all
of these things. that's the good scenario. that's just you lonely and safe. but far more likely, matthew shepard, this month is the 24th anniversary of the year he was killed in wyoming. earlier that summer 1998 jamesburg junior a black man in jasper texas, four hours from where i grew up in lewisville texas was beaten and changed to the back of a truck and dragged until his body literally came apart. i'm watching that as a 13-year-old boy and then later that year, that october was matthew shepard. i was so scared and so angry that i think by the time i was a young man when you meet me in this chapter in the book it's just turned into disgust. at that point i was really ambivalent of the value of my own life. one of the journeys of my book is sayyid actually going to start fighting for his life and to fight for your life you have
to value your life. at this point i'm just fighting. james baldwin writes about a scene in a diner at one point where he just ãshe's just angry. and he snaps. he runs out of the diner because he's like i could get killed. i just welcomed the death sentence. and my aunt, i sent the book to her earlier this year she called me and we talked for two hours or so and something she said about that chapter she started crying and worked her way up. she had a lot of questions. she worked her way up to this chapter and she said, i think it was a suicide attempt. i think you are trying to kill yourself. she was so upset and i was like, that's exactly what it was. suicide by cop. i'm so disgusted and frustrated and just going to run head-on into the terror because why
not? i've always known that at least in this life being like a masculine breaux is not in the cards for me. [laughter] rated off, let it go. that does not mean i didn't have a violent approach to life. that unfortunately so many men do. one of the projects of the book i wanted to show the different ways that anger manifests were all fighting for our lives the thing about men is what we are fighting for our lives or when we don't believe we are we are dangerous to everyone else around us. we are incredibly dangerous. we go down in a blaze of glory. we gotta drag the people down with us so i always say when men are like this when we have not figured out our gender politics to put it concisely, i
think men like that are like a ford f2 50, i grew up in texas i know those big trucks. like a ford f2 50 with a drunk driver speeding down the highway. he's a danger not just to himself but to every other person on the road.that's always how it shakes out. i have to figure this out to save my own life. also in the process it was so clear that we are surrounded by daniels. we have to figure this out because all of our lives are on the line. >> i think along that same line the memoir contains a lot of scenes and passages about sexual racism. which i'm surprised at the number of people don't know what that is but it's pretty intuitive. what would you like to say about racism within the lgbtq ã community. how is racism couched in the language of preference? and how [laughter] how does internalized racism prevent
black men from seeing their own beauty. that's the million-dollar question. if you can answer that there is a prize. >> is there? [laughter] one thing that's very clear, i'm trying very carefully, c-span is watching them trying to be professional. an essential fact of human nature is that the things we say in the heat of the moment and the heat of desire while we are having sex, those things we say in the dark are not above, they are a future. we cannot allow ourselves to say, i was caught up in the moment. i'm sorry baby. no, you said the truth. i think we all need to know that. it has nothing to do with your sexual preference, that something we all need to work on. pay attention to that moment. if someone says something hurtful in the midst of sex and desire, that's important
information and your response to it is valid and deserves to be interrogated. >> are talking about the seed when you got called the n-word. at that point i would be out. let me get my bag. >> and as you see in a the book there is a man i called the botanist, it's not just the one terrible night, we have what's more or less a relationship that goes on for several months coming together falling apart, coming together falling apart and that's the thing about these dynamics. they're not linear. very few of us when we are in toxic relationships, unfortunately it's very rare we have one terrible night an argument and that's the end. never see that person again. most of us are entangled and it's difficult and maybe we eventually get away from that space get so disgusted that we step away but the truth is that
often we are wrapped up and it's really hard. i think the thing about sexual racism is that because our culture cultural is still heteronormative we are still getting people to understand that women deserve to be paid as much as men. that's literally still something we are fighting for. right now the supreme court is trying to decide if it's fair for a person to be fired for being gay or transgender. 2090. we haven't figured that out? okay. so if that's where we are, a nuanced conversation within our different communities and identities some of the most sexist misogynist things i've ever heard have been said by gay men. some of the most racist things in fact almost all of the racist things and personally heard people say have been said by gay men.
so you're like should i talk about this on c-span and risk furthering the worst stereotypes of gay men, how do we navigate? we all do this. do i get up there and talk about reproductive rights and risk complicating the way everyone sees all women? am i going to be the spokesperson for everyone who looks and lives like me. that's complicated. but we have to do the work because the dynamic is still ongoing. something you see in the book that i really try to work with is show that all these dynamics are still going on. you can talk about them or not but it's still going on. to go back to that truck analogy, imagine that truck is invisible. when you do then? your car has just been totaled indicating that point what happened.
that's kind of what it feels like. he told me about grinder and this is just my preference, and just attracted to this kind of person then why does your profile say, no asian or latino cuisine. why is that the way you are describing people. i don't like asian food, i don't like mexican food, that's how this is a menu now? that's horrible. i think sexual racism is totally connected to misogyny
and totally connected that just as a straight man who thinks something is fine like are you crazy? you are a mess. you are wearing us out. i think a lot of gay men assume that because we have to deal with homophobia, and we do, because we been bullied or have to deal with whatever we have to deal with, and we do, that we are off the hook. and we aren't. no one is off the hook. >> i think that's key. this line got me, just as some cultures have 100 words for snow, there should be 100 words in our language for all the ways a black boy can lie awake at night. if you like people forget that black boys get scared too. can you talk about the ways in which black boys are viewed as model list and how does your work debunk that? >> the reason i use that is because our language reflects our values. it shows the cumulative value
system. obviously if you live in a place with a lot of snow you have a lot of language to describe it because it is an important part of the reality any ball agreed upon that. in that line that's the night we just watch the news report about jamesburg junior and my mom and i don't remember and try to own in the book of an unreliable narrator about to pretend that he remember everything perfectly. every ãi remember mentioning the news then we turned it off and in my room just like processing. my goodness, black girls everyone. to be a black boy and watch the way our country is talked about trayvon martin to be 12 years old and to see what happened to jimmy arise, think about what that does to you. think about what that feels
like. to be that boy's mother or father, their sibling. to be a black kid who's figuring out gender politics as my cousin in dallas came out as trans in the early 90s to see how frequently blacks trans women are being murdered. when camilla harris was on stage at a town hall and as an lgbt town hall and walks onto the stage and says, my gender pronouns, which is a nod generous not to this conversation. and what is it ãto see people that we are supposed to trust to give us information to help us understand what's going on because so much is happening to see them makes jokes of things that are actually very sensitive and painful for people especially for kids. it's just heartbreaking. we don't even have the language
for it. ãis such a perfect american example that these cops and 12 seconds, that tells you a lot, 12 seconds they saw a 12-year-old boy and assumed he was a man with the gun and shot him. that's a lot of decisions to be making in 12 seconds. just the fact that they saw him and thought he looked like a grown man, not that shooting a grown man would've been better in that instance but it says so much about our culture and you see black girls are always getting suspended. discipline more harshly. because they are treated as adults when they are still kids. talk about dylann roof. talk about any of those white boys who walked into, name a space, theater, church, concert, and looked at the language that she used. he was just a boy, this is such
a tragedy. that's not a coincidence. language in the language we consistently use is an opportunity for us to understand what we collectively had decided to value and if we don't have the language, it's not an accident. >> that's powerful. round of applause for that. another aha moment for me i've heard in chapter 1 in which you say, first of all, you are in the library in this scene. i'm a librarian, as i said in the beginning. although library scenes i was like yes, i love it. >> there are a lot i am all for it. go to your library and write. [laughter] this moment occurred for me in chapter 1 in which you say all the books i found about being gay were also about aids. gay men dying of aids like it
was a logical sequence of events.a mathematical formula or lifecycle. caterpillar cocoon butterfly, gay boy, gay man, aids. can you talk about what happens when a boy or anyone else for that matter discovers their sexuality only to have it immediately associated with death. >> that's a lot. it was something i slowly came to realize. i was just trying to tell the truth as best i could about what happened to me. slowly but surely i'm like there might be something bigger here. until you see the moments i tried to open the aperture. i wanted to capture the fact that, where around the same age, we are this generation of gay men, and making assumptions. >> i'm 28. >> this generation, i don't know it as a kid at that moment in the book because all the books are old and out of date but the medication that's about to make hiv-aids diagnosis no longer necessarily a death
sentence is being introduced at that time and that's wonderful. but for us as we were coming into asia in our first few sexual encounters until literally a minute ago basically a few years ago with the introduction of the truvada prep i would say for straight people the way in which every time you have sex if your reproductive system is capable of which, the fact of becoming pregnant something on your mind, it's not not something you're not thinking about. imagine for gay men for our generation and every generation until then it's been like and i going to get aids? the net death and terror. that's a lot. and because of shame, because of everything else going on, a lot of queer men and bisexual men in particular are going to all this without being able to talk about it. and that's really hard. i'm grateful that is changing truvada prep is a pill you can take once a day to prevent
hiv-aids. it's just huge. i believe gavin newsom the governor of california just in the state of california it's good to be for ãfree. that changes the reality. if you haven't lived with this experience. it's even trippy to perceive but imagine death not being an essential part of desire. wow. wow. that's pretty great. i feel that the birth control pill. you mean i can have sex and remain in control of the decisions i make about my body? what a trip. it's regulatory. and you realize it freezes up in all kinds of ways. i wanted to capture that in the book but also the library to me
and the boys got to go play as if this was relevant information. that's just a heterosexual dynamic, nothing it would be certainly a gay boy, i had a few questions that day. certainly transgender, like we have all the information but we can't just say, kids will figure it out. it's really important as mentors, as caregivers, as educators, just as people to make sure we create a culture in which young people and our peers know that if they have questions of the questions will be welcomed. something you also see in the book is that i get to a point where i start making assumptions and begin to assume that my questions will not be welcomed. so i don't even ask. i assume that i can't be my home self in the space.
so you see me really endangering myself because of those assumptions and though my mom and i had a loving relationship we had a warm relationship. but there was such a science. do you think rather than having personal biases you think she was afraid for you and didn't know how to address all of that oprah was very big in our household. i will never forgive jonathan france for rejecting oprah's book club. never! [laughter] the oprah book club
don't need you. [laughter] i remember watching oprah with my mom and neighbor chris the interior design whiz genius, who is really wonderful and really become a part of the american household if you are watching the show. his partner died in the indonesian tsunami a natural disaster. it was awful it was really awful. then when he came back for the first time about it my mom and i are watching this episode and i'm like i'm a college student at this point and talking about this heartbreak, the love of his life they were on vacation together the episode ended and i'm sitting there like a my god, i met this point like will i ever find love. here's someone who did. here is someone who found the love of his wife and lost him in such a tragic way and i'm just ãand i turned to my mom like that was so sad. she just said, it's pretty sad.
i was so stunned. i get it, he lost his business partner. >> two different wavelengths. >> at the time in writing it was like in the newspaper journalism, media, the standard language for queer couples who were in committed relationship was partner. even when i pulled up articles she said, yet business partner saeed. i just use that as an example to show that we were really struggling to communicate. it was really hard. i think she was doing her best but it is scary. i'm on book tour and i was just in minneapolis and the mother came up to me during the q&a and was like my son is gay and ice she said i still think about matthew shepard.
it's still really scary for me. the pulse nightclub shooting, brandon tina, there's so many of these instances. so i understand why parents could be petrified of these conversations. gun violence, oh my goodness, i get it. but not talking about it is not going to make them any safer unfortunately. the fact that it's difficult or awkward and it's going to be start and go and a series of start and goes does not mean it's not worth it. i think what we can do is just say that. say that i am terrified and you are the most important thing in the world to me. and because of that we are going to figure this out together and i'm going to mess up. i'm a student too in this context so we are going to learn together. i'm going to have questions, you are going to have questions
we are going to keep it going. and save the soul of your relationship. >> and come to the library if you need research. >> it is something i think about because when you see me go into the library to get these books i walk in and i say let, i'm not can ask a wrinkle old lady at the circulation desk for advice and that was my misogyny. there was the arrogance of my youth, she probably would have. librarians are some of the fiercest and booksellers and teachers some of the most subversive educators. when i was teaching 12th grade you best believe, i will never forget i had this latino student with a strict uniform it was like head to toe you really had a stick to it. she was so ãshe would come in some days with her hoop earrings and timber leah ã timberland boots.
and i would say girl you know how you need to quit. i would try to find books that would resonate with the young queer latino student. i wish i had spoken to a librarian because she gave me advice but also the thing about that, she loves the book. she said i'm picking up where you're putting down mr. johnson. one of the books i can remember it was still was a book explicitly about like a gay girl in high school as the student was going through stuff and her dad found it. her dad was very upset that was an aha moment for me. it's not just depend on the librarians disappearance on the other side of that conversation that we need to as educators need to figure out how to bring into the conversation and let them know it's like a team taking care of this child but also another reason, parents,
you don't want to become the barrier to the one person trying to slip your child something helpful. >> we will bring you back to do library promos. >> i would love it! >> now it's time for q&a. if you have a question please go to the mic. >> real questions. >> my name is diane, my question is about you you mention your an unreliable narrator. how do you when you're writing your process works through that? i'm reading ãi'm telling the truth but i'm lying and she talks about that's why she titled the book because she realized herself that her memories might not be reliable. how did you work that in? >> there are a lot of different strategies. i wrote very slowly. i took, longer than expected,
but i'm proud of the time i took because something i've said it to quickly written memoir it's a memoir full of lies. if you're just racing through it you are not going to give yourself time, memory is a trickster figure. so you can remember something be totally certain and then let, actually, it wasn't that year or whatever or don't you remember, it ãbyou need to give yourself time to do that and if you are just so insistent in getting it done and turned the draft before you even have in the revelation. i'm honest and upfront about the unreliability of a narrator. i think it's more important to be clear. because this is about how informing my identity in memory is a part of how we form our identity. i think the fact that my memory
is unreliable as actual relevant. the one other thing i did is i did not interview people for the book. i reread a lot of material i did a lot of research, i did an interview people because i was like, this is about my remembering. except for one location i didn't go back to phoenix arizona. i'm not going back to phoenix arizona. phoenix stay over there. [otherwise and went to every other location that appears in the book. so you see me watching the ã project of high school students when what, i've gone back to louisville high school so i know what the classrooms look like, we go down this hallway, go down the stairs and then they still have the rickety chairs in the auditorium and that's for the stage. as i'm writing i know the goals of what i need to depict but i
can break it down into, what would it have been like when you're walking down the hallway. i would been surrounded by other kids and thinking about how they are talking. are they talking about the play? it's kind of guiding myself through and i found the map was actually really helpful because it made it very simple when you go into your bedroom after jamesburg junior what would you do and i mentioned i had my note book of poems and then collected rocks. the cover is allusion to the rocks i collected. i was like, i had my recollection and that's when i was like, i remember that night i dug through it and found the jasper. found it. >> being vulnerable as a queer man of color is extremely difficult because of the hostility that you talk about. what gave you the strength to open up and to talk as loudly as you have? >> that's a good question.
i think there is heaven and hell. i think there's deep humanity in anger. i think at some point my anger, it got me to that night that i read from, a man does almost kill me. i almost died. it was such a wake-up call. like look where that mentality has gotten you saeed. i think it was a wake-up call. but the feelings that energy cannot be created nor destroyed it did not go away so i literally was like grad school, and it went into poetry and writing and if you read my poetry it's like ãthat's where the energy is coming from. i was fortunate enough that i began to get positive affirmation, this poem is really good. we get those positive feedback, you can begin to stick with it.
then also just finally i've seen what happens if we don't talk about it. i feel like if one person in this room can go home and read the book or not read the book, just have a conversation that they been afraid to have them ã it's worth it. thank you. >> i'm a big fan, i haven't finished the book yet so i want to ask you a broader question based on something i think you'd tweeted a bit ago. i also recently left new york in a dramatic way. >> get girl f. >> i know for you going there looking at watching rent growing up it's like where you can go and be clear and it safe there. i've been struggling with being my authentic self.
it's ongoing work. it's ongoing work. but when identity is a self-serving prophecy. i think when we say, i don't feel that i don't belong in this room i don't feel i belong in this room. that's gonna become a prophecy. everything you begin to look for a look at is going to be seen through the lens of you thinking you don't deserve to be there. i was talking about this dynamic recently on twitter and the way language like you read and i have to be nice because the new yorker did just give me a very nice [laughter] thank you girl. i was talking about like you are reading a theater review and it uses language that makes you uncomfortable. it's huge fancy words and you feel dumb. i feel bad and i know i'm a good writer. the person on twitter said, that's just the price of admission to the party. i said, i am the party. [applause] you need to remember that. you are the party. walk into the space and know
that you are the best thing that's ever happened to the space. and it is a tragedy if anyone doesn't understand that. i pity them. i think it's important and helpful. we have to give ourselves tools to be able to be feel comfortable in spaces and yes there are places like new york city that's like, free? perfect. but we have to learn to be ourselves everywhere because nashville needs you too. >> what you said like you ãb thank you. i'm sorry, i'm going to embarrass him so much for my younger cousin alex and his wonderful wife jasmine are here. i want to say hello. >> hi alex, hi jasmine. [applause] >> we still have more time for questions. >> literary opera, come get
some. >> i know when i've had the experience of reading aloud something i wrote it can really change what i think about it or either that's great or i've written myself a tongue twister. when you talk more about your experience recording your own audiobooks. >> i recorded the audiobook. i read as i write and that comes from poetry. poetry the moment i have a decent chunk of apartment do what poem i may read it to make sure it works. technical grammar i'm not good at but i think my ear helps me guide it. i brought that to writing but when i'm writing the book i'm like one paragraph at a time my head is down. doing the audiobook was really cool. not everyone gets to do that. also because until that moment i didn't understand, i guess i did but i struggled to
empathize with readers when people would come up to me who read the book and go, it was a gut punch. i was like why? i don't think of writing generally is a very emotional experience. like it's not therapy for me. therapy is therapy. writing is my job. but when i read the audiobook and did it in two days, that's a lot. hearing it out loud, saying, there's some hurtful things, some hurtful dialogue spoken, saying that dialogue, and just hearing the unexpected ways and things, early in the book you meet a boy named cody and i mention him. in the next chapter you meet cody and you let come of this kid is a jerk. then just when you think cody is just a memory in the rearview window, his name comes up again years later. only when i was reading it was able to understand those ways
and then i'm sitting there in the studio like can i go take a break? so speaking words is powerful. it's a different experience. i know i'm really into not just the information of a book but the lyricism, the writing of the book when i start reading it outside.i reading trick mirror by ãand i find myself reading out loud. to me in some ways that's the highest praise.thank you. >> we have another question? >> hi. i was actually wondering when you decided you wanted to write a memoir and if there was a lapse between that and actually writing it how long it took you to do all that? >> this is a special book in that you see the phoenix arizona chapter. i start writing about what happens with daniel as soon as
i'm back in kentucky. writing, writing, writing, over and over. then i'm in graduate school and i start writing some personal essays and start working with, like what i read about? read about my grandma, read about my mom. one of those essays it was ã the opening chapter i actually wrote in her class. with a polaroid. i began to develop an understanding. when i was in graduate school i remember my mom calling me once, he must've told her. she was like i told grandma, who we have a very far relationship in the book, i told your grandmother that you are writing a memoir one day and explain what that meant and i'm like, jolts, and like what did she say? [laughter] i think i've known for a while but and then my pet mom passed away. writing was the only thing i could do well.
like grief just knocked me low. sometimes i could socialize. friends would call like have you eaten today? i haven't. okay. but i could write. a lot of the chapters started generating then but i think i was scared to write a memoir i was like it will be a series of essays, linked essays, just call it a memoir. [laughter] then i sold the book in 2015 i was like, it's a memoir. i had like 100 or so pages of material and felt confident but even then, i sold this book, i think of a talented writer. i got a huge book advance from a major publisher. that was 2015. i cannot tell you how many times between 2015 and now all kinds of people don't try to assume different ãdemographic. all types of people said aren't you young to be writing memoir.
ãb [laughter] they both liked it. >> that's all that matters. >> there's a hesitance we often have like who gets to write a memoir? is your life worthy? is your life worthy of being written in that kind away? i think it's because people don't read. so they don't understand that memoirs are typically, yes it's autobiographical but it's not your entire life story. it's usually a specific part. a parkland survivor i would argue pretty dumb it probably has a pretty good memoir if they choose to write about their expense because they will read about that. it's something i definitely struggled with. but the one other thing is that every time i started to doubt the value of the book, america would remind me.
i was reading the ãproject prepared to write about when it comes to my high school and i woke up and it was a new york times and it was the church shooting in south carolina. right when i was like, today take the magic shepherd, pulse nightclub shooting happened. whenever i was like, is this worthy? is this worth people's time? america was like you better finish the dam book. thank you. >> thank you sally jones everyone. [applause]ãbthank you saeed jon everyone. if you would like a copy it's in the signing tent located in the center of the main plaza. thank you for coming. >> thank you
next from nashville it's a conversation about race and identity. live coverage of the southern festival of books will continue in just a few minutes. [inaudible background conversations] in the meantime, what to show you a bit of a program you will see tonight at 6:00 p.m. eastern, here's former utah republican congressman jason j pitts discussing his new book in which he argues liberals are trying to undermine the trump presidency. >> their whole books he could write on just the kavanaugh situation. but the pre-work, we try to focus on his work that they
were doing in the outline they had, no matter who it was, this is going to be this was going to be a narrative about a frat boy who was out of control and gone awry. the clearest example, it's been up there it's not brand spanking new in my book but we remind people about the press release that was already written with x xx they just had to fill in the name. when you see that in some total in retrospect put together in the way we did it in this chapter it reminds you of how evil and how bad it was and i think it's almost humorous that these democratic senators everything one of them had pledged to vote no and then complained about the lack of openness and transparency. you still have senator schumer and the others say, it's a trick they always do, they always do this, they ask for
things that they know cannot be given to them. you cannot reveal, by law, grand jury material. there is executive privilege that a president has with his seniormost advisors. with jerry nadler does time and time again and they did it part in the kavanaugh situation, they ask for information that the president has executive privilege on. it's the same claim that barack obama claimed, believe me, i wanted to get bad roads before our committee to talk about the iran deal. i invited ben rose to come testify before the oversight committee. he was in the new yorker, he was doing public speeches, certainly he has time to do all the media and public speeches, he can come talk to congress about this, no. they claimed executive privilege. they said is a separation of power issue and i dropped it. i didn't issue a subpoena. the difference now is cummings
and nadler were issued subpoenas, you see they don't comply! they know that if it goes to court they will never win but they don't care because that court date is going to come after the next election. they want to create a narrative you will hear nadler and cummings and the others say we issued a 250 subpoena, they never responded. most of them are wholly bogus and a court would just laugh them out of there. the reason jerry nadler became the chairman of the judiciary committee is he wet before his colleagues on the democratic side of the aisle and said i'm better suited to pursue impeachment come with me i'm going to do impeachment and that's how he beat out ãwho b and became the chairman of the committee. he is abusing his power. >> one last question for me then we will shift and end on a positive note like you do in your book. what's the path forward what should conservatives be looking
for to bring this in? >> i try to do this in the deep state i did this in paragraph on purpose. i don't want to just lay out all the bad. you come and listen and like bummed out it's not the feel-good meeting of the year. try to end on a positive note that this is the greatest country on the face of the planet. somehow someway the american people figure these things out basement authenticity they understand these issues. but we have to be aware of them. the very fact i write you are reading the book is good news the fact that people want to dive deeper on these issues but i also think it's incumbent that we engage in federalism. that we push back them up the federal government does too many things to too many people. so much of this either shouldn't be done at all or should be the purview of the states. somehow we got a new growth the power of the federal government and get them out of so much of
this business. i think a lot of those answers will be pushing for on states rights and doing those types of things. >> the entire program with former congressman jason j fits were aired tonight directly following our live coverage from nashville. check your program guide for more information here's a look at authors who appeared recently on book tvs "after words". our weekly offer interview program that includes best-selling nonfiction books and guest interviewers. last week washington times national security columnist bill gertz discussed china's efforts to become a global military and economic superpower. coming up, fox news legal and political analyst greg jared will argue against the validity of the investigation into russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. this weekend on "after words"
former obama administration national security advisor and un ambassador susan rice will reflect on her life and career. >> my husband and i tried to raise our kids to be independent thinkers and have the courage of their convictions and unfortunately we succeeded. we have our daughter on the one hand who substantially to the left of us and our son on the other hand who substantially to the right of us. they both are wonderful kids whom we love deeply. but it makes for some interesting dinnertable conversation. they are both bright, both engaged in the issues of the day. but with my son in particular there are some pretty stark differences between them. that's not easy but the good news is that personally, we are very close. and we talk about these things. sometimes at higher decibel levels than others. i respect him and i think he
respects me very much. i've learned a lot from him. he gives me an insight into the values and the thinking of a huge and important segment of our country. >> "after words" airs saturdays at 10:00 p.m. and sundays at 9:00 p.m. eastern and pacific on booktv on c-span2. all previous "after words" are available as podcasts and to watch online at booktv.org. >> starting now, it's today's final live author discussion from the southern festival of books. it's conversation on race and identity. [inaudible background conversations]
[inaudible background conversations] are we ready? okay. hello everyone. welcome to day two of the annual southern festival of books the celebration of the written word. my name is gloria ballard it is my pleasure to be here to host this session. my country tis nema to assay's collections. the authors kendra allen at the end of the table and janine castle right here next to me. for i get to the introduction, they are a couple of housekeeping things i need to take care of. this is the 31st annual southern festival of books presented by ameniti