Richard Russo on Dialogue


Uploaded by IdahoPTV on 29.11.2012

Transcript:
>>> PRESENTATION OF "DIALOGUE" ON IDAHO PUBLIC TELEVISION IS
MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH THE GENEROUS SUPPORT OF THE LAURA
MOORE CUNNINGHAM FOUNDATION.
COMMITTED TO FULFILLING THE MOORE'S FAMILY LEGACY OF
BUILDING THE GREAT STATE OF IDAHO.
>>> COMING UP, HE WRITES AT THE INTERSECTION OF COMFORT AND
CLAUSTROPHOBIA OF THE PAST AND THE PRESENT, OF BIG DREAMS AND
SMALL FAILURES.
I TALK WITH PULITZER PRIZING AUTHOR RICHARD RUSSO NEXT ON
"DIALOGUE."
STAY TUNED.
>>> HELLINGO AND WELCOME TO "DIALOGUE," I'M MARCIA FRANKLIN.
HAVE YOU EVER LOOKED OUT OF A PLANE, ONTO THE VAST SWATH OF
LAND THAT IS RURAL AMERICA AND WONDERED, WHO LIVES DOWN THERE?
AND WHAT ARE THEY DOING RIGHT NOW?
WELL, THOSE BURGS AND HAMLETS COME ALIVE IN THE NOVELS OF
RICHARD RUSSO.
RUSSO, THE AUTHOR OF TEN BOOKS, IS KNOWN FOR ANIMATING THE
INTERIOR LIFE OF SMALL TOWN AMERICA, FROM THE EASY
FAMILIARITY AND SECURITY IT PROVIDES, TO THE ECSENT
TRISSITIES AND CRUELTIES IT SPAWN.
HIS NOVELS INCLUDE "STRAIGHT MAN," "BRIDGE OF SIGHS," AND
"NOBODY'S FOOL," WHICH WAS MADE INTO A MOVIE STARRING PAUL
NEWMAN.
MR. RUSSO'S PROBABLY BEST KNOWN FOR HIS PULITZER PRIZING NOVEL
"EMPIRE FALLS" WHICH HE ADAPTED INTO A EMMY NOMINATED MINI
SERIES ON H.B.O IT ALSO STARRED PAUL NEWMAN,
ALONG WITH ED HARRIS AND CAST OF OTHER LUMINARIES.
HIS LATEST WORK IS "ELSEWHERE: A MEMOIR."
IT'S THE STORY OF HIS LIFE ON THE ROAD, IMOATH LITERALLY AND
FIGURATIVELY WITH HIS MOTHER.
MR. RUSSO IS IN BOISE, IS THE KEYNOTE SPEAKER FOR THE IDAHO
HUMANITIES COUNCIL, AND I AM PLEASED THAT HE AND THAT
ORGANIZATION HAVE FOUND SOME TIME IN HIS SCHEDULE TO STOP BY
THE STUDIO FOR THIS CONVERSATION.
WELCOME.
>> THANK YOU, IT'S GREAT TO BE HERE.
>> HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN IDAHO BEFORE?
>> THERE IS MY FIRST TIME.
>> THERE ARE LOTS OF SMALL TOWNS HERE.
YOU COULD DELVE INTO FOR MATERIAL FOR YOUR STORIES.
>> YOU THINK?
>> YES.
STAY A WHILE.
[LAUGHTER] >> SPEAKING OF THAT, BEFORE WE
TALK APPROXIMATE YOUR MEMOIR, SMALL TOWN LIFE, HAS NOT ONLY
BEEN THE BACKDROP BUT ALMOST A CHARACTER IN ALMOST ALL YOUR
BOOKS.
DO YOU THINK THAT YOU COULD WRITE A NOVEL SET IN A BIG CITY?
>> OH, I THINK THAT I WILL LEAVE THAT TO TOM WILSON AND RICHARD
PRICE.
THEY SEEM TO BE DOING SUCH A GOOD JOB.
WHAT ATTRACTS ME TO SMALL TOWNS, REALLY, IS MY INTEREST IN CLASS.
AND THE GREAT THING ABOUT SMALL TOWNS, A TOWN LIKE EMPIRE FALLS,
IS THAT AT ONE END OF THE ECONOMIC SCALE YOU HAVE
MRS. WHITING, WHO PRETTY MUCH RUNS THE TOWN, OWNS THE TOWN.
AND AT THE OTHER END, YOU HAVE YOUNG JOHN VOSS, WHO CLOTHES
HIMSELF OUT OF THE DUMPSTERS BEHIND STORES ALONG MAINSTREET.
AND IN A SMALL TOWN, UNLIKE SO MANY OF AMERICA'S GATED
COMMUNITIES OR LARGE CITIES THAT HAVE, YOU KNOW, SUCH DISTINCT
NEIGHBORHOODS WHERE PEOPLE DO THE SAME KIND OF WORK FOR THE
SAME KIND OF MONEY, AND THERE IS A KIND OF HOMOGENEITY THAT
ARISES IN A SMALL TOWN.
MRS. WHITING AND JOHN VOSS CROSS PATHS, AND SOMETIMES IN WAYS
THAT THEY LEAVE LASTING MARKS ON EACH OTHER.
AND SO, SMALL TOWNS ARE, TO ME, THE MOST APPROPRIATE CRUCIBLE
FOR LOOKING FOR, FOR LOOKING AT THE ISSUE OF CLASS IN AMERICA,
AND HOW IT RELATES TO DESTINY.
>> AND YOU ARE ABLE TO PLUM THE DEATHS OF YOUR OWN LIFE BECAUSE
YOU GREW UP IN A SMALL TOWN, GLOVERSVILLE, NEW YORK.
>> I AM A SMALL-TOWN BOY TO THE MERRILL OF MY BONES.
>> AND LIVE IN A SMALL TOWN NOW.
>> I DO, MOST OF THE TIME.
MY WIFE AND I NOW THAT OUR DAUGHTERS ARE BOTH GROWN, AND
MARRIED AND HAVING LIVES AND FAMILIES OF THEIR OWN, WE TOOK
THIS ENORMOUS, WE TOOK THIS ENORMOUS LEAP THREE OR FOUR
YEARS AGO BY BUYING AN APARTMENT IN BOSTON.
SO, WE DO, WE ARE TESTING, WE ARE TESTING THE BIG CITY WATERS
COUPLE OF MONTHS YEAR.
WE GO DOWN THERE, AND LIVE A LITTLE DIFFERENT LIFE THAN
NEITHER OF US IS USED TO.
>> YOUR MEMOIR, "ELSEWHERE: A MEMOIR," IS SET IN THE
BEGINNING, CERTAINLY, IN THE SMALL TOWN IN WHICH YOU AND YOUR
MOTHER, SINGLE MOTHER, GREW UP IN, GLOVERSVILLE, NEW YORK,
NAMED SO BECAUSE GLOVES USED TO BE MADE THERE.
AND EVEN WHEN YOU ARE NOT IN THAT SMALL TOWN WITH HER, SHE
AND YOU MOVE AWAY.
IT'S OMNI PRESENT.
>> YES, IT REALLY IS.
>> IT'S OMNI PRESENT.
AND I WANTED TO ASK YOU FIRST OF ALL, WHY YOU WANTED TO WRITE
THIS MEMOIR?
A LITTLE BIT OF A DIVERSION FROM WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN DOING.
>> MY MOM DIED ABOUT FOUR YEARS AGO, AND IT BECAME APPARENT TO
ME FAIRLY QUICKLY THAT I WANTED, THAT I WANTED TO WRITE THIS
BOOK, AND NEEDED TO WRITE IT.
HER DEATH HIT ME HARD, AND I FOUND MYSELF THINKING ABOUT HER
AND THINKING ABOUT HER LIFE A LOT AFTER SHE DIED.
DURING MY WAKING HOURS.
AND SHE WAS INVADING MY SLEEP, AS WELL.
IN MY DREAMS.
WHICH SEEMED TO SUGGEST TO ME THAT WE HAD SOME, OR I HAD SOME
SORT OF UNFINISHED BUSINESS TO TAKE CARE OF.
SO, AND I APPROACHED THE MEMOIR IN MUCH THE SAME WAY AS I
APPROACH FICTION, IN A SENSE, THIS WAS NOT WRITTEN SO THAT I
COULD TELL EITHER MY STORY, OR MY MOTHER'S STORY.
IT WAS WRITTEN IN THE HOPES OF GETTING SOME ANSWERS.
AND I'VE NEVER BEEN A WRITER WHO WANTS TO TELL PEOPLE WHAT I
KNOW, I'M JUST TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT I KNOW AND HOW I KNOW
IT AND WHEN I KNEW IT.
I'M LIKE, I'M LIKE, I'M TAKING RUBBER HOSES TO MYSELF IN AN
INTERROGATION, WHAT DID YOU KNOW AND WHEN DID YOU KNOW IT, SORT
OF THING, SO I KNEW THAT I NEEDED TO WRITE THIS BOOK
BECAUSE THERE WERE, THERE WERE THINGS WHEN PEOPLE ASKED ME
THINGS ABOUT MY OWN LIFE AND ABOUT MY MOTHER'S LIFE AND ABOUT
GLOVERSVILLE.
AND OVER THE YEARS, I FOUND THAT I HAD DEVELOPED SOME KIND OF
GLIB ANSWERS, BUT WHENEVER ANYBODY ASKED ME FURTHER
QUESTIONS I WOULD FIND THAT SOMETIMES, THE ANSWERS THAT I
WAS GIVING THEM DIDN'T REALLY EVEN MAKE SENSE TO ME.
AND SO, SHORTLY AFTER MY MOTHER'S DEATH, WHEN I WAS
THINKING ABOUT THESE THINGS IN THE FRONT OF MY BRAIN, RATHER
THAN THE BACK MY BRAIN, IT JUST SEEMED TO ME THAT I MIGHT FIND
THE ANSWERS TO SOME OF THE QUESTIONS THAT I WAS POSING
MYSELF.
IF I TREATED -- >> QUESTIONS ABOUT WHY SHE WAS
THE WAY THAT SHE WAS?
SOME OF THE PARADOXES THAT SHE LIVED WITH?
GOING BACK TO THE THEME OF THE SMALL TOWN?
>> AND HER GENETIC GIFTS TO ME, AS WELL.
WE HAVE A LOT IN COMMON.
WE HAD A LOT IN COMMON, MY MOTHER AND I.
>> YOU KNEW THAT SHE HAD WHAT WERE WE WOULD CALL MANIC
DEPRESSION OR BIPOLAR DISORDER, BUT YOU CAME TO UNDERSTAND THAT
SHE ALSO HAD OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER, OCD.
>> SHE WAS NEVER DIAGNOSED BY A PROFESSIONAL.
>> BUT YOU, AS A SMALL CHILD, YOU HAD TO HELP HER WITH.
YOU WERE, ESSENTIALLY, SOME SOME WAYS, A CARETAKER OF A YOUNG AGE
OF YOUR MOM BECAUSE OF THE, BECAUSE OF HER DEMONS WE MIGHT
SAY.
BUT, YOU WRITE IN THE BOOK, AS YOU SAY, THAT YOU FOUND THAT YOU
HAD MANY SIMILAR TRAITS TO YOUR MOTHER, INCLUDING SOME
OBSESSIONS.
AND WRITE, MY NEXT OBSESSION MIGHT WELL HAVE BEEN WOMAN OR A
NARCOTIC OR A BOTTLE OF TEQUILA, INSTEAD I STUMBLED ONTO
STORY-TELLING AND BECAME INFECTED.
SO IN A SENSE, YOU CHANNELED SOME OF THE SAME TENDENCIES YOUR
MOM MIGHT HAVE HAD INTO A POSITIVE DIRECTION.
BUT, YOU SHARED SIMILARITIES.
>> THAT MAKES IT SOUND A LITTLE BIT SMARTER THAN IT ACTUALLY WAS
AT THE TIME.
IT MAKES IT SOUND LIKE I WAS SEARCHING FOR SOME, SOME WAY TO
DO THAT, TO TURN NEGATIVE INTO POSITIVE.
AND IT WAS NOT QUITE THAT RATIONAL.
>> REFLECTING BACK ON IT.
>> YEAH, THAT'S WHAT I SEE NOW, REFLECTING BACK ON IT.
AND, BUT, GOSH, HOW TO SAY THIS.
IN THE MEMOIR I WRITE ABOUT THIS TIME WHEN I WAS IN, WHEN I WAS
IN COLLEGE, AND I BECAME ADDICTED TO A PARTICULAR PINBALL
MACHINE.
AND THAT HAD, FOR ME, A PARTICULAR SENSATION.
I COULD ALMOST FEEL THE THRUMING OF MY BLOOD WHEN I WAS STANDING
AT THAT MACHINE, AND WHEN I WAS NOT STANDING AT IT, I WAS
THINKING ABOUT IT.
I WAS HEARING THE BELLS.
IT WAS VERY, VERY VISCERAL, PHYSICAL, PHYSICAL FEELING THAT
I HAD.
AND I HAD A DEVIL OF A TIME JUST KICKING THAT.
WHO CAN'T QUIT PLAYING PINBALL, COME ON, BUT I DID.
I HAD A DEVIL OF A TIME STOPPING THAT, BUT WHEN I FOUND WRITING,
AND WHEN I STARTED TO WRITE AND COME PULSIVELY WRITING STORIES,
IT WAS THE SAME FEELING.
WHICH IS TO SAY, THAT ONE THING, WHICH WAS INCREDIBLY STUPID, AND
DESTRUCTIVE, GAVE ME THE SAME FEELING AS THE THING THAT HAS SO
CHANGED MY LIFE FOR THE BETTER.
WHICH IS BECOMING WRITER, WRITER STORIES, AND IN THE BEGINNING, I
MEAN, I WAS BAD.
SO, I MEAN, EVEN, EVEN AT THE BEGINNING WHEN I WAS WRITE SO
GLAD COME PULSIVELY AND, AND GETTING THIS, THIS KIND OF SAME
HIGH THAT I WOULD GET FROM, FROM PLAYING PINBALL DOWN IN THE
DUNGEONS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA STUDENT UNION, THE
FEELING WERE, WAS, IDENTICAL, AND IT WASN'T LIKE I LOOKED AT
WHAT I WAS DOING AND SAYING, THIS IS GREAT.
IT SUCKED.
BUT, IT WAS THE SAME FEELING.
I COULDN'T STOP DOING IT.
THE BUZZ WAS THE SAME.
>> AND IT WAS YOUR MOTHER WHO INTRODUCED YOU TO READING, AND
THEN ONTO WRITING.
YOU SAY THAT IT'S FROM MY MOTHER THAT I LEARNED READING WAS NOT A
DUTY, BUT A REWARD.
YOU CANNOT MAKE A WRITER WITHOUT FIRST MAKING READER, AND THAT'S
WHAT MY MOTHER MADE ME.
SO, SHE WAS LONELY WOMAN, OFTEN DEPRESSED, BUT BOOKS WERE HER
SOLACE, AND SHE GAVE THAT GIFT TO YOU, AS WELL.
>> WITHOUT EVER SAYING SO, WHEN AT THE END OF ONE OF HER
INCREDIBLY LONG DAYS, THAT WOULD RUN TO 11 TO 12 HOURS FROM START
TO FINISH, WHEN ANOTHER PERSON WOULD HAVE COLLAPSED IN FRONT OF
THE TELEVISION AND KIND OF VEGGED OUT, HER OPENING UP BOOK
WAS, WAS WAY TO CHEAT IN A WAY, A WAY TO, A WAY TO CHEAT HER OWN
EXISTENCE.
AND WITHOUT EVER SAYING SO, I UNDERSTOOD AT SOME LEVEL AS A
KID, THAT, THAT READERS, AND THEN EVEN MORE PERHAPS THAN
THAT, WRITERS, HAVE THAT CHANCE TO CHEAT, YOU KNOW.
MOST OF US ARE TRAPPED IN, IN A BODY AND IN A LIFE.
AND THOSE OF US WHO READ VORACIOUSLY KNOW THAT WE GET
MORE, WE GET MORE OUT OF IT THAN, THAN OTHER PEOPLE DO.
WE CAN LIVE AS MANY LIVES AS WE CAN IMAGINE, AND A WRITER HAS
THAT, THAT SENSE WITH, I THINK, EVEN GREATER INTENSITY
SOMETIMES.
>> THIS IS A FRANK ASSESSMENT OF YOUR MOTHER AND OF YOUR
RELATIONSHIP WITH HER, YOUR FRUSTRATIONS WITH HER, THAT SHE
WAS GOING THROUGH HER, HER MOOD SWINGS.
COULD YOU HAVE WRITTEN THIS BOOK WHEN SHE WAS ALIVE?
>> NO.
>> SOMETHING THAT YOU HAD TO DO AFTER SHE PASSED?
>> NO.
I COULDN'T HAVE DONE THIS WITH HER ALIVE.
IT WOULD HAVE GIVEN HER PAIN.
AND SO NO, NO.
IT WOULD HAVE GIVEN HER PAIN, AND THAT'S ONE THING, BUT I ALSO
COULDN'T HAVE WRITTEN IT WHILE SHE WAS ALIVE BECAUSE I DIDN'T
KNOW ENOUGH.
IT WAS HER, IT WAS HER, HER DEATH THAT ALLOWED PLEA TO PUT
THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE.
AND ASK THE KIND OF QUESTIONS ABOUT PERSON'S SCOPE AND SHAPE
OF A PERSON'S LIFE.
UNTIL THAT LIFE ENDS, YOU DON'T REALLY BEGIN TO THINK OF IT AS A
WHOLE.
AND BEGIN -- AND YOU DON'T ASK YOURSELF, YOU DON'T ASK YOURSELF
THE SAME QUESTIONS THAT YOU ASK WHEN YOU ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF
SOMETHING.
IT'S ONLY WHEN THAT SOMETHING ASSUMES A FINAL SHAPE THAT, THAT
YOU BEGIN TO ASK THOSE KINDS OF QUESTIONS, SO I COULDN'T HAVE
WRITTEN IT BECAUSE I WOULD NOT HAVE HEARD HER FOR THE WORLD.
BUT ALSO, BECAUSE AT THAT POINT, I WAS STILL IN THE FOREST.
I COULDN'T -- SEE PLENTY OF TREES BUT I COULD NOT SEE THE
SHAPE OF THE, OF THE THING AT ALL.
>> SO MANY WRITERS THAT I HAVE TALKED WITH HAVE GROWN UP WITH,
AT LEAST ONE PARENT, THAT, THAT SUFFERS FROM A MENTAL ILLNESS OR
A PARENT THAT'S ABSENT OR A PARENT THAT IS STRUGGLING WITH
ALCOHOLISM.
DO YOU NOTICE THAT, AS WELL?
AMONG YOUR WRITER FRIENDS?
IT ALMOST SEEMS AS IF THERE IS RICH MATERIAL DERIVED FROM THAT
SITUATION.
THAT HELPS WRITERS, OR WRITERS ARE TRYING TO FIGURE IT OUT,
MAYBE?
>> YEAH.
WELL, I WOULD GO SO FAR AS TO SAY IT'S NOT JUST WRITERS.
I THINK IT'S ARTISTS IN GENERAL, CREATIVE TYPES.
ARTISTS WITH A CAPITAL A, WHETHER YOU ARE A PHOTOGRAPHER,
A FILMMAKER, PAINTER.
PHOTOGRAPHER, WHATEVER THAT IS, I THINK THAT, THAT, WE'RE PRONE
TO THAT, TO THAT SORT OF THING.
I AM TRYING TO REMEMBER WHO IT WAS, THERE WAS FAMOUS HISTORIAN
WHO USED TO TALK ABOUT NATIONS, AND NATIONS'S FATES AND SAYING
THAT IN ORDER TO HAVE A GREAT NATION, OR A GREAT CIVILIZATION,
YOU HAVE TO HAVE, TO HAVE TWO THINGS, IN A KIND OF BALANCE.
ON THE ONE HAND YOU HAVE TO HAVE RESOURCES.
AS A NATION, YOU CANNOT GO ANYWHERE IF YOU DON'T HAVE THE
RAW MATERIALS WITH WHICH TO, TO BUILD A NATION, OR A NATION
STATE.
ON THE OTHER HAND, YOU HAVE TO HAVE A CHALLENGE.
AND IF YOU HAVE EITHER AN ABUNDANCE OF RESOURCES AND NO
CHALLENGE, OR YOU HAVE A SERIES OF ENORMOUS CHALLENGES AND NO
RESOURCES, WITH WHICH TO MEET THOSE CHALLENGES, THEN YOU HAVE
NO CHANCE, REALLY, TO HAVE GREAT NATION OR GREAT CIVILIZATION.
>> NOTHING TO FIGHT FOR.
>> AND HE WAS -- THAT HISTORIAN WAS TALKING ABOUT NATIONS, BUT I
THINK IT'S ALSO A LOVELY PARADIGM FOR INDIVIDUALS, TOO,
BECAUSE WE SEE ALL THE TIME IN THIS LIFE, PEOPLE WITH NO
RESOURCES WHO SEEM JUST, YOU KNOW, SO, SO FAR BEHIND THAT
IT'S HARD TO IMAGINE HOW THEY WOULD EVER CATCH UP, AND THEN
YOU SEE, YOU SEE, FRANKLY, TOO, YOU SEE ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE WHO
LIVE THE KIND OF PRIVILEGED LIVES OF ASTONISHING PRIVILEGE
THAT JUST DIMINISHES THEIR, THEIR MORAL SCOPE.
AND SO, THAT KIND OF HAVING ENORMOUS RESOURCES WITHOUT,
WITHOUT ANYTHING, ANYTHING REALLY TO FOCUS, TO FOCUS THE
ENERGY OR TO, TO, UPON WHICH TO BUILD A MORAL VISION, CAN, CAN,
CAN, RESULT, CAN RESULT IN PERSON WHO SEEMS OFTEN JUST TO
BE GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS.
>> WANDERING.
>> RIGHT, WANDERING.
>> WITHOUT A PURPOSE.
>> RIGHT.
SO, ULTIMATELY, WITH THE WRITING OF THIS MEMOIR, EXHAUSTING FOR
YOU, CATHARTIC, BOTH?
I THINK YOU PROBABLY ARE STILL PROCESSING IT?
BUT, WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT YOU GLEANED OR GAINED FROM TURNING
YOUR ATTENDINGS TO WRITING A MEMOIR?
>> WELL, I GOT AN ANSWER TO SOME OF THE QUESTIONS THAT I WAS
POSING FOR MYSELF, SO IN THAT, THERE IS A WAY THAT I UNDERSTAND
NOW, MY MOTHER'S LIFE BETTER THAN I DID BEFORE.
I UNDERSTAND THE DEEP POND THAT WE HAD, THAT OUR OWN LIVES,
SINCE WE BOTH GREW UP IN GLOVERSVILLE, HOW OUR LIVES WERE
SHAPED AND HAUNTED.
AND I I UNDERSTAND THAT, THAT FOR HER, THERE WERE ALWAYS THIS
TOWN WAS ALWAYS TWO TOWNS, THE TOWN THAT SHE LOVED AS SOON AS
SHE ESCAPED IT.
AND THE PLACE THAT WAS HER PRISON WHENEVER SHE WAS THERE.
SHE GAVE THAT TO ME IN A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT FORM.
BECAUSE FOR ME, THERE ARE ALSO TWO GLOVERSVILLES.
THERE IS THE ONE THAT, THAT I'M FREE TO LOVE BECAUSE I KEEP
REINVENTING IT IN THESE NOVELS THAT I WRITE.
BUT, ONE THAT I HAVE A VERY DIFFICULT TIME ACTUALLY
PHYSICALLY RETURNING HOME TO BECAUSE THAT'S MY MOTHER'S
GLOVERSVILLE, AND HER, HER SENSE OF IT AS A PLACE WHERE YOU DIE,
WHERE, THAT YOU CANNOT ESCAPE THAT, WILL CAGE YOU, WAS THE
FIRST REALLY POWERFUL OPINION THAT I THINK THAT I EVER GOT IN
THIS LIFE.
AND ONE THAT BECAUSE IT CAME TO ME SO YOUNG, IS VERY, VERY
DIFFICULT FOR ME TO SHAKE.
BUT, TO RETURN TO YOUR ORIGINAL QUESTION, WHETHER IT WAS
CATHARTIC AND -- I WOULDN'T SAY -- I WOULD LOVE TO SAY GOD, I'M
SO GLAD I DID THIS.
I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER I GOT THIS OFF MY CHEST.
THAT WOULD BE, I THINK, A LIE, SO I'M NOT GOING TO SAY THAT TO
YOU.
BUT, AS WITH MY NOVELS, WHAT I OFTEN FIND IS THAT WHEN I FINISH
BOOK, IT IS FOR ME, NOTHING MORE THAN A COLLECTION OF ALL OF THE
PROBLEMS WITHIN THAT BOOK THAT I NEVER FOUND A SOLUTION FOR.
WHEN IT REALLY -- THE CLOSING, YOU SAID, YEAH, I'M STILL IN THE
PROCESS, THE CLOSING OF THE LOOP OCCURS, WHEN I'M ON THE ROAD
SOME PLACE, WHEN I'M IN BOISE OR WHEN I'M SOMEWHERE AND SOMEONE
SAYS, AFTER READING A NOVEL OF MINE, COMES UP TO ME AND SAYS,
YOU KNOW, I PUT DOWN YOUR BOOK LAST NIGHT, AND I CALLED MY
FATHER.
I HAD NOT TALKED TO HIM IN 25 YEARS.
THAT, FOR ME, BECAUSE WRITERS DON'T SEE THE, THEIR BOOKS LAND,
YOU KNOW.
YOU WRITE THEM IN A KIND OF INTENSE PRIVACY, AND THEY GO OUT
INTO THE WORLD, AND UNLESS YOU RUN INTO SOMEBODY READING A BOOK
OF YOURS ON A PLANE OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT, YOU REALLY DON'T GET
A CHANCE TO SEE THE EFFECTS.
EXCEPT WHEN YOU GET OUT IN THE WORLD.
AND EVERY NOW AND THEN SOMEBODY WILL COME UP TO YOU AND SAY,
YOUR LAST NOVEL GOT ME THROUGH ROUND OF CHEMOTHERAPY, THANK
YOU.
AND YOU THINK, WOW, AND THAT'S, THAT'S WHEN YOU THINK, OK, I'M
GLAD THAT I WROTE THAT BOOK.
THAT DID SOMETHING FOR SOMEBODY.
>> UNFORTUNATELY, WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME BUT I DO WANT TO ASK
YOU ON THIS SAME THEME, THAT YOU CONTRIBUTE, YOU EDITED A SMALL
BOOK THAT I RECOMMEND THAT PEOPLE READ, CALLED A HEALING
TOUCH.
WHICH IS ABOUT END OF LIFE CARE AND HOSPICE CARE, AND YOU WROTE
IT BEFORE YOU WROTE YOUR MEMOIR ABOUT YOUR MOTHER.
YOU HAVE A BEAUTIFUL ESSAY ABOUT PERSON THAT YOU KNOW, TAKING
CARE OF HIS WIFE WITH EARLY ONSET ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE.
AND WHY WAS THAT SO IMPORTANT TO YOU?
IT WAS A FUNDRAISER FOR THE LOCAL HOSPICE, BUT BRIEFLY, WHY
WAS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO CONTRIBUTE TO EDIT THIS BOOK
ABOUT END OF LIFE ISSUES?
>> WELL, THE PERSON THAT I WROTE THAT ESSAY ABOUT, A WONDERFUL
MAN NAMED LEE DUFF, WAS A FRIEND OF MY.
WE HAD BEEN FRIENDS FOR YEARS, AND I KNEW, WE USED TO PLAY
RACQUET BALL TOGETHER, AND I COULD SEE WHEN WE WERE ON THE
COURT, THERE WAS SOME DAYS THAT HE WAS NOT THERE, AND I KNEW HIS
WIFE WAS ILL.
HE WAS VERY PRIVATE.
HE DID NOT, UNTIL THINGS GOT REALLY BAD, HE DID NOT SAY A LOT
TO ME ABOUT WHAT WAS TROUBLING HIM BUT I KNEW THAT HE WAS IN
ROUGH EMOTIONAL SHAPE.
AND CAME TO ME ONE DAY, AFTER, AFTER HIS WIFE HAD FINALLY DIED,
AND IT WAS HORRIBLE, WHAT HE WENT THROUGH.
BUT CAME TO ME AND SAID, I AM ON THE BOARD OF THIS HOSPICE, AND
HE SAID, MY GOD, WE'RE POOR.
CAN YOU THINK OF ANYTHING THAT WE COULD DO, COULD YOU GIVE
READING OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT?
IT SEEMED LIKE SO LITTLE MONEY WOULD COME OF THAT SO WE BATTED
IT AROUND AND DECIDED TO DO THIS BOOK.
BUT IT WAS REALLY -- >> DIFFERENT AUTHORS
CONTRIBUTED.
GOING BACK TO THE MEMOIR, ONE THING THAT I NOTICE, STRONGLY,
WAS THAT THE THEMES THAT YOU AND I-84 MOTHER DEALT WITH IN LIFE,
THESE PARADOXES OF BEING TIED TO TOWN BUT WANTING TO FLEE IT,
THEY ARE IN YOUR BOOKS, AS WELL.
>> YES.
>> THIS IS BIG THEME OF THESE CONTRADICTION THIS IS LIFE AS I
MENTIONED IN MY INTRODUCTION.
THE INTERSECTIONS.
BETWEEN THINGS THAT, THAT MAYBE DON'T MAKE SENSE.
>> YEAH.
>> WELL, THAT'S THE CRUCIBLE OF FICTION.
I THINK, IS, IS THOSE, THOSE PARADOXES, THOSE CONFLICTS, IN
LIFE, THOSE ARE THE THINGS THAT JUST, JUST, THEY, THEY DRIVE OUR
LIVES, AND THEY DRIVE US TOWARDS THE DESTINIES THAT, THAT
CONTINUE TO PUZZLE US MORE AND MORE THE OLDER THAT WE GET, AND
BUT CONFLICT IS THE STUFF, THE STUFF OF FICTION.
IT DOES NOT COME FROM FICTION, FICTION DOESN'T COME FROM THINGS
WE KNOW BUT THINGS WE DON'T KNOW, AND WE'RE STRUGGLING TO
FIND OUT.
IT'S WHY, WHY DICKENS, YOU KNOW, NOVEL AFTER NOVEL AFTER NOVEL,
WHY HIS, HIS BOOKS ARE FULL OF ORPHANS BECAUSE AT SOME CRUCIAL
POINT IN HIS LIFE, HE HE FELT ORPHANED, AND SO YEAH, BUT,
THIS, THIS, ALL THESE CHARACTERS, SO MANY OF THESE
CHARACTERS IN MY BOOKS ARE, ARE RUNNING AWAY FROM SOMETHING, AND
IT ALMOST, AT THE SAME SPEED THAT, THAT IT IS MOVING, AND
WHETHER THEY ARE CHASING IT OR RUNNING AWAY FROM IT, AND
SOMETIMES WHEN IT CATCHES THEM, THEY CHASE IT.
IT'S JUST, JUST -- IT SEEMS TO ME TO BE THE WAY THAT WE ARE.
>> AND LOOKING BACK AT OUR LIVES, THE WHAT-IFS IN OUR
LIVES.
>> OH, YES, THE WHAT-IFS.
>> YES.
>> IN GLOVERVILLE, YOU KNOW.
THINGS LIKE THAT, WHAT IF I HAD NOT MARRIED THIS PERSON.
WHAT -- >> WELL, WHAT IF I HAD NOT
MARRIED THIS PERSON, THAT'S ONE OF THE GREAT WHAT-IFS IN MY
LIFE.
I MEAN, LORD KNOWS THAT I HAVE MADE MY SHARE OF MISTAKES, BUT
ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I DID RIGHT, WAS MARRY THE RIGHT
WOMAN.
I WAS CLEVER ENOUGH TO MARRY UP, AND TO MARRY A MARVELOUS AND
HEROICALLY UNDERSTANDING HUMAN BEING.
>> MANY OF YOUR BOOKS HAVE MALE PROTAGONISTS, STRONG MALE
CHARACTERS, DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE MORE MALE READERS THAN
FEMALE OR DO YOU KNOW?
>> I HAVE MANY MORE FEMALE READERS, MANY MORE.
I THINK THREE QUARTERS, AT LEAST.
>> BECAUSE MORE WOMEN READ?
>> I WAS JUST -- YOU COULD NOT WAIT FOR ME TO GET THAT OUT,
COULD YOU.
[LAUGHTER] >> NO, I MEAN, THREE QUARTERS AT
LEAST OF THE SERIOUS FICTION READERS IN THE UNITED STATES ARE
WOMEN.
AND I THINK THAT AS MY, AS MY OWN CAREER AS A WRITER HAS, HAS,
THE ARC OF MY CAREER HAS BEEN THAT MY BOOKS SEEM TO BE ABOUT
MALE, MALE MISBEHAVIOR, AT SOME POINT, ALONG THE WAY, I LOOKED
AROUND, JUST AS A WRITER, LOOKED AROUND AND SAW THAT AT THAT
TIME, I WAS MARRIED.
I HAD TWO WONDERFUL DAUGHTERS.
MY MOTHER WAS STILL ALIVE THEN, I JUST LOOKED AROUND AT ALL OF
THE IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN MY LIFE FOR, WERE WOMEN, AND MY BOOKS,
FROM EMFIRE FALLS, BEGAN TO REALLY REFLECT THAT REALITY.
BUT, YOU KNOW, EVEN THE EARLY STUFF, I FOUND THAT, THAT FOR
REASONS THAT I COULDN'T FIGURE OUT AT FIRST, MY BOOKS WERE
BEING TAUGHT IN WOMEN STUDIES COURSES, AND I ALWAYS WONDERED
WHAT.
SO, TO PROVE THAT LOOK, THEY ARE JUST LIKE WE THOUGHT THAT WE
WERE?
>> SOME PEOPLE HAVE CRITICIZED YOUR FEMALE CHARACTERS AS BEING
ANGELS OR DEVILS, YOU KNOW.
NOT HAVING MUCH -- >> YEAH.
>> THAT'S A WHOLE OTHER DISCUSSION.
BRIEFLY BECAUSE WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME BUT I WANT TO ASK
YOU THIS.
YOU HAVE THE PRIVILEGE TO WRITE MOVIES, WRITE TELEVISION
PROGRAMS AND MOVIES THAT ARE ADAPTED FROM YOUR BOOKS, THAT
YOU ADAPT FROM BREWER BOOKS, AND I HAVE WATCHED SEVERAL THEM.
AND THEY ARE QUITE DIFFERENT IN SOME WAYS FROM THE BOOKS.
THEY HAVE TO BE BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO COLLAPSE TIME FROM A 500-PAGE
BOOK TO 110 SCRIPT.
AND FRUSTRATING?
LOADS OF FUN?
BOTH?
YOU ARE ABLE TO ADD SOME THINGS IN, THAT YOU WERE NOT ABLE TO IN
THE BOOKS, WHICH IS KIND OF NEAT.
>> I DIVIDE MY TIME NOW, BACK AND FORTH, I'M WORKING ON RIGHT
NOW, SCRIPT WITH MY FRIEND, ROBERT BENTON, AND WE HAVE DONE
SEVERAL MOVIES TOGETHER, AND I DID SEVERAL MOVIES AS YOU KNOW,
WITH PAUL NEWMAN.
AND WRITING SCREENPLAYS CAME ALONG AT A PERFECT POINT IN MY
LIFE.
I WAS LOOKING TO COLLABORATE, AND WRITING NOVELS IS A VERY
LONELY BUSINESS.
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING.
AND WORKING ON SCREENPLAY, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT YOU BECOME
VERY CLEAR ABOUT, VERY EARLY, IS THAT YOU ARE IMPORTANT FOR A
SHORT PERIOD OF TIME.
AND WHEN, WHEN THAT TIME COMES, YOU WILL KNOW T IT WILL MOVE ON,
AND YOU WILL STAY RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE.
RIGHT WHERE YOU WERE BEFORE THE PHONE RANG THE FIRST TIME.
>> BUT, YOU'VE BEEN ABLE TO SUCCESSFULLY ADAPT YOUR FILMS,
AND AS I SAID, EVEN TWEAK YOUR BOOKS A LITTLE BIT.
>> YOU KNOW, IT'S INTERESTING, YOU GET TO, TO -- WITH A NOVEL,
YOU MAKE YOUR DECISIONS, AND ONCE YOU WALK THROUGH, EVERY
TIME YOU HAVE A CHOICE, OF HOW THE NARRATIVE IS GOING TO MOVE
AND PROCEED, EVERY TIME YOU, YOU MAKE CHOICE, YOU HAVE GOT BUNCH
OF DOORS, AND EVERY TIME YOU MAKE A CHOICE, YOU WALK THROUGH
ONE OF THOSE DOORS, THE DOOR CLOSES BEHIND YOU.
WHEN YOU WRITE A FILM, BASED ON YOUR, A NOVEL OF YOURS, YOU GET
TO KIND OF REVISIT SOME OF THOSE DECISIONS.
BECAUSE AS YOU SAY, EVERYTHING DOES HAVE TO COLLAPSE.
AND SO, WHAT WORKED IN THE BOOK MAY NOT WORK IN THE MOVIE.
YOU MAY HAVE TO FIND ANOTHER SOLUTION TO THE SAME OR
DIFFERENT PROBLEMS.
YEAH, IT'S A DIFFERENTLY SOLUTION TO THIS RUBIK'S CUBE.
>> YOU GET TO WORK WITH LIVE ACTORS LIKE PAUL NEWMAN.
>> YEAH.
>> HEARING AN ACTOR, THAT'S ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS ABOUT, FOR
ME ABOUT WRITING FILM, IS THAT SOMETIMES YOU WILL HEAR AN ACTOR
READ ONE OF YOUR LINES, SOMETIMES YOU WILL THINK, THAT'S
NOT THE WAY IT'S SUPPOSED TO GO, BUT OTHER TIMES GREAT ACTOR LIKE
ED HARRIS, OR JOAN WOODWARD OR PAUL NEWMAN WILL, WILL READ A
LINE THAT YOU HAVE WRITTEN, AND THERE IS SOMETHING IN IT THAT
YOU DID NOT KNOW WAS THERE.
AND HOW, HOW MANY GREAT IS THAT BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, WE LIKE TO
THINK THAT YOU ARE IN CHARGE OF ALL OF YOUR NUANCES, BUT A GREAT
ACTOR WILL FIND SOMETHING FROM HIS LIFE, HER LIFE, HER
EXPERIENCE, AND SUDDENLY, THERE IT IS, AND YOU THINK, OH, GOD, I
AM EVEN SMARTER THAN I THOUGHT.
[LAUGHTER] >> AND ANY OTHER SCREENPLAYS IN
YOUR FUTURE?
>> I CERTAINLY HOPE SO.
I ENJOY DOING IT.
UNFORTUNATELY, I THINK THAT THERE PROBABLY WILL BE MORE
TELEVISION IN MY FUTURE THAN MOVIES BECAUSE I THINK WE'RE
RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GOLDEN AGE OF TELEVISION RIGHT
NOW, AND WE'RE NOT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GOLDEN AGE OF MOVIES.
THE KINDS OF MOVIES THAT I'M INTERESTED IN WRITING ARE --
THEY ARE NOT THAT MANY OF THEM BEING MADE, AND THE ONES THAT
ARE, WE HAVE DIFFICULTY GETTING FINANCED, BUT THERE IS A LOT OF
GREAT TELEVISION.
>> AND A SEQUEL TO?
>> I AM WORKING ON SEQUEL TO "NOBODY'S FOOL," SO I AM COUPLE
HUNDRED PAGES INTO IT.
EVERYBODY'S FOOL.
>> IT WILL BE EVERYBODY'S FOOL?
>> RIGHT.
[LAUGHTER] >> COME BACK AND VISIT US AGAIN.
>> I AM REALLY ENJOYING BOISE.
I WILL BE BACK.
>> ALL RIGHT.
GREAT.
YOU HAVE BEEN LISTENING TO AUTHOR RICHARD RUSSO.
HE WAS IN BOISE TO SPEAK TO THE IDAHO HUMANITIES COUNCIL, AND MY
THANKS TO THAT ORGANIZATION FOR SHARING HIM WITH US, AND TO YOU,
TOO.
MR. REDUCE OVER, THANK YOU, FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HIM OR TO
LISTEN TO THIS INTERVIEW AGAIN, CHECK OUT THE "DIALOGUE" WEBSITE
AT IDAHOPTV.ORG.
I'M MARCIA FRANKLIN.
THANKS FOR TUNING IN.
>> PRESENTATION OF "DIALOGUE" ON IDAHO PUBLIC TELEVISION IS MADE
POSSIBLE THROUGH THE GENEROUS SUPPORT OF THE LAURA MOORE
CUNNINGHAM FOUNDATION.
COMMITTED TO FULFILLING THE MOORE'S FAMILY LEGACY OF
BUILDING THE GREAT STATE OF