Transcript: Anna Porter: One Book at a Time | Feb 18, 2019

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a blue suit, white shirt, and spotted blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "One book at a time. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says SHE WAS BORN ANNA SZIGETHY
IN BUDAPEST, HUNGARY,
EXPERIENCED THE 1956
REVOLUTION THERE,
AND EVEN AS A
FIVE-YEAR-OLD CHILD
SPENT TIME IN JAIL
BECAUSE OF IT.
A DECADE LATER,
SHE CAME TO CANADA,
FOUNDED HER OWN
BOOK PUBLISHING BUSINESS,
MARRIED A LAWYER WHO WAS PART
OF THE TORY ESTABLISHMENT,
AND EVENTUALLY SAT ON
BOARDS WITH THE LIKES OF
MARGARET THATCHER, HENRY
KISSINGER, AND CONRAD BLACK.
THAT INCREDIBLE JOURNEY
IS CHRONICLED IN HER NEW MEMOIR.
IT'S CALLED
IN OTHER WORDS:
HOW I FELL IN LOVE WITH
CANADA ONE BOOK AT A TIME.
AND IT BRINGS ANNA
PORTER TO OUR STUDIO.

Anna is in her early seventies, with long wavy blond hair. She's wearing a black sweater and a burgundy scarf.
A picture of her book appears briefly on screen. The cover features a black and white picture of a young Anna in a study, with bookcases in the background.

Steve continues SO NICE TO HAVE YOU BACK HERE.

Anna says NICE TO BE BACK.

STEVE SAYS WE'RE GOING TO TELL
THE STORY OF YOUR LIFE HERE,
WHICH STARTS...
CAN I SAY THIS? KIND OF SAD.
YOU BARELY KNEW YOUR FATHER
GROWING UP IN HUNGARY.
WHY WAS THAT?

The caption changes to "Anna Porter. Author, 'In other words.'"
Then, it changes again to "Early days."

Anna says THE RUSSIANS WERE
BOMBARDING THE CITY,
AND HE WENT OUT TO
GET SOME FRESH BREAD,
IF HE COULD FIND IT.
AND HE WAS PICKED UP,
ALONG WITH A WHOLE
BUNCH OF OTHER PEOPLE,
BY RUSSIAN SOLDIERS
WHO WERE OCCUPYING BITS
OF BUDAPEST AT THAT POINT.
AND HE WAS TAKEN OFF TO SIBERIA,
AND HE SPENT THE
NEXT TWO AND A HALF YEARS
IN THE GULAG, IN A
PLACE CALLED VORKUTA.
SO, IN YOUR FORMATIVE YEARS,

Steve says YOU HAD PRACTICALLY NO
EXPERIENCE WITH HIM AT ALL?

Anna says ACTUALLY, I HAD PRETTY
MUCH NO EXPERIENCE OF HIM
DURING ALL OF THE REST OF
MY FORMATIVE YEARS.

Steve says WELL, WE'RE GOING
TO TALK ABOUT THAT.
WE ARE GONNA
TALK ABOUT IT IN A SECOND.
I MENTIONED IN THE
INTRO YOU GOT ARRESTED
AS A FIVE-YEAR-OLD KID.
HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

Anna says OH, I WAS ABOUT FOUR, FIVE.
AND MY MOTHER DECIDED
TO TRY AND FOLLOW MY FATHER,
WHO HAD COME BACK
FROM THE GULAG.
THERE WERE A GENERAL RELEASE
OF MOST OF THE HUNGARIANS
FROM THAT CAMP,
AND THEY WERE
SHIPPED BACK BY TRAIN
OR TRAINED BACK.
AND HE GOT OUT OF HUNGARY
AS QUICKLY AS HE COULD,
AND MY MOTHER THOUGHT
WE SHOULD FOLLOW.
SO, HE WENT TO VIENNA AND WAS
OSTENSIBLY WAITING THERE.
I DON'T KNOW. I NEVER ASKED HIM
IF HE REALLY WAS WAITING THERE.
AND MY MOTHER AND I
ATTEMPTED TO CROSS THE BORDER
AND WERE ARRESTED
BY THE BORDER GUARDS
AND PUT INTO A DETENTION CAMP.

Steve says NOW, A FIVE-YEAR-OLD
IS PROBABLY OLD ENOUGH
TO REMEMBER THIS. DO YOU?

Anna says OH, I DO. I REMEMBER IT
VERY CLEARLY. YES.

Steve says HUH. WERE YOU TERRIFIED?

Anna says ACTUALLY, I WASN'T,
ODDLY ENOUGH.
I WAS TERRIFIED
OF THE INTERROGATION.
THEY INTERROGATED
ME ABOUT MY FAMILY.
AND THE ONLY PART OF THAT
THAT I WAS SCARED OF
WAS STROBE LIGHTS.
THEY HAD VERY, VERY STRONG...
I DON'T KNOW IF
THEY WERE STROBE LIGHTS.
BUT THEY WERE BRIGHT,
BRIGHT LIGHTS IN MY FACE.
AND I DON'T KNOW
HOW LONG IT LASTED.
THEY WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT MY
FATHER AND ABOUT MY MOTHER
AND WHETHER OR NOT THEY WERE
ANTI-COMMUNIST AGITATORS.
AND I ANSWERED
AS BEST AS I COULD.
AND THE OFFICERS WHO WERE
IN CHARGE OF THE INTERROGATION
STARTED TO FEEL
REALLY BADLY ABOUT IT.
SO, I GOT AN APPLE AND
SOME CHOCOLATE,
AND THEY TOOK ME
BACK TO THE CELL.
AND REALLY, THE REST OF THE...
I WAS ONLY THERE A FEW WEEKS.
MY MOTHER STAYED.
SHE WAS CONDEMNED FOR TRYING
TO GET OUT OF THE COUNTRY,
AND SHE STAYED FOR EIGHT MONTHS.

Steve says BUT EVENTUALLY, YOU DID GET OUT
AND MOVED TO NEW ZEALAND.

Anna says YES. OF ALL PLACES.
OF ALL PLACES.
MY MOM WAS HOPING FOR SOMEWHERE
FAR AWAY FROM HUNGARY,
AND I DON'T THINK YOU COULD
GET MUCH FARTHER AWAY
THAN NEW ZEALAND.

Steve says AND YOUR FATHER
DID NOT GO WITH YOU?

Anna says NO. HE REMARRIED.
THEY NEVER REUNITED.
MY PARENTS NEVER REUNITED.

Steve says AND EVENTUALLY, FROM
NEW ZEALAND TO CANADA.
HOW DID THAT WORK OUT?

Anna says SADLY, I FOUND...
NEW ZEALAND WAS WONDERFUL
AND REALLY PRETTY AND LOVELY.
AND YOU KNOW, YOU CAN LOOK
AT THE MOUNTAINS
AND THE OCEAN AND EVERYTHING.
BUT I FOUND IT ACTUALLY
PROFOUNDLY BORING...

(STEVE LAUGHING)

Anna says ONCE I GREW UP
TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
REALLY INTERESTING PEOPLE
AND NOT TERRIBLY
INTERESTING PEOPLE
IN A BEAUTIFUL COUNTRYSIDE.
SO I WANTED TO GET OUT
AND MOVE TO LONDON, ACTUALLY,
RATHER THAN HERE,
AND WORK THERE
IN BOOK PUBLISHING.

Steve says ALTHOUGH THE FACT THAT WE'RE
DOING THIS INTERVIEW IN ENGLISH
YOU CAN THANK NEW
ZEALAND FOR, RIGHT?

Anna says ABSOLUTELY. AND NEW
ZEALAND WAS KIND TO ME.
IT TOOK ME IN, EDUCATED
ME, YOU KNOW, REALLY,
AND GAVE MY MOTHER
A PERFECTLY FINE NEW HUSBAND,
A LOVELY MAN,
ALAS, NOW, NO LONGER AROUND.
BUT HE WAS A VERY FINE
PERSON, I THINK, OVERALL,
ALTHOUGH I DIDN'T LIKE HIM.
BUT THEN, I WASN'T
GOING TO LIKE ANYBODY.

(STEVE LAUGHING)

Anna says I WAS IN MY TEENS,
AND I WAS KIND OF SURLY.

Steve says WELL, AS YOU HAVE JUST
HINTED IN THAT LAST ANSWER,
EVENTUALLY, YOU GOT INTO THE
BOOK PUBLISHING BUSINESS.
AND WHEN YOU CAME TO CANADA,
YOU HOOKED UP WITH ONE OF
THE MOST INTRIGUING
AND EXTRAORDINARY AND
CONTROVERSIAL AND DIFFICULT MEN
IN THE HISTORY OF
PUBLISHING IN THIS COUNTRY.
AND WE HAVE A LOT OF PEOPLE
WHO ARE NEW CANADIANS
WHO WATCH THIS PROGRAM,
AND THE NAME JACK MCCLELLAND
WILL MEAN NOTHING TO THEM.
SO YOU NEED TO START BY TELLING
US WHY HE WAS SO UNIQUE.

The caption changes to "Anna Porter, @annaporter_anna."
Then, it changes again to "The matter of CanLit."

Anna says HE WAS A WAR VETERAN.
HE WAS ABSOLUTELY FEARLESS.
HE HAD...
HE WAS IN LOVE WITH CANADA
AND CANADIAN WRITERS
IN PARTICULAR.
AND HE BELIEVED, AS I DO NOW...
AND SLOWLY BEGAN TO
REALIZE HE WAS RIGHT...
THAT CANADIAN WRITERS
ARE AS GOOD AS
AND IN MANY CASES BETTER
THAN WRITERS IN OTHER
COUNTRIES WHO ARE CELEBRATED.
AND CANADIAN WRITERS IN THOSE
DAYS WERE NOT CELEBRITIES,
AND HE MADE CANADIAN
WRITERS INTO CELEBRITIES.
AND I THINK THAT WAS SOMETHING
NOBODY ELSE HAD DONE HERE.
AND YOU KNOW WHAT?
IT WAS THE RIGHT TIME.
IT WAS THE VERY END OF
THE '60S WHEN I GOT HERE,
POST-EXPO.
THERE WAS A WHOLE NEW KIND
OF CONSCIOUSNESS.
CANADIANS WERE BEGINNING
TO BE PROUD OF THEIR COUNTRY.
WE DID A GOOD THING AT EXPO.
WE DID REALLY WELL.
THE REST OF THE WORLD WAS
PAYING ATTENTION.
AND JACK MCCLELLAND,
WHO WAS REALLY
MY HERO FOR A VERY...
YOU KNOW, RIGHT UP UNTIL
THE END OF HIS DAYS,
I THOUGHT HE WAS AN
EXTRAORDINARY PERSON,
A GENIUS, REALLY, A PUBLISHER,
A MAGNIFICENTLY IMPRESSIVE,
PERSUASIVE PERSON,
WHO COULD REALLY APPEAR ANYWHERE
AND TALK PRETTY MUCH
ANYBODY INTO BELIEVING,
SHARING HIS ENTHUSIASM FOR...
YOU KNOW, THINKING BACK...
FOR NEW CANADIANS, SADLY,
PIERRE BERTON MAY
NOT MEAN VERY MUCH,
BUT IN THOSE DAYS,
JACK MCCLELLAND COULD
SELL 300,000 COPIES
OF A PIERRE BERTON BOOK.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Steve says THAT'S EXTRAORDINARY.
PIERRE BERTON
POPULARIZED HISTORY
IN THIS COUNTRY...

Anna says ABSOLUTELY...

Steve says WORKING FOR JACK MCCLELLAND
OR WORKING WITH JACK MCCLELLAND,
I GUESS. MARGARET ATWOOD SOLD
150,000 COPIES OF SURVIVAL,
A BOOK ABOUT LITERARY CRITICISM.
AND YET, THIS COMPANY OF HIS,
MCCLELLAND AND STEWART,
ALWAYS SEEMED TO BE ON THE
EDGE OF A FINANCIAL PRECIPICE,
ABOUT TO GO OVER. WHY WAS THAT?

Anna says SADLY, THE PEOPLE HE
WAS UNABLE TO CONVINCE
WITH HIS OVERWHELMING ENTHUSIASM
AND HIS PERSUASIVE WAYS
THAT CANADIAN WRITING
WAS MAGNIFICENT
AND THAT WE SHOULD
REALLY ALL BELIEVE IN IT
AND PROMOTE AND SPEND
OUR MONEY BUYING BOOKS,
SADLY, WERE THE BANKERS.
HMM. I DON'T KNOW IF

Steve says THAT'S CHANGED AT ALL.

Anna says IT HASN'T.
I ACTUALLY REMEMBER THE TIME
THAT OUR BANKER, YEARS LATER,
OF THE COMPANY THAT I RAN,
HAVING INSISTED THAT I DOUBLE
THE KEY PERSON INSURANCE POLICY,
SAID, "MRS. PORTER,
AT THIS POINT,
YOU'RE WORTH MORE TO US
DEAD THAN ALIVE."

(STEVE LAUGHING)

Steve says THAT'S A FUNNY THING
TO HEAR FROM A BANKER.

Anna says WELL, YES. ACTUALLY,
YOU KNOW WHAT?
I CRACKED UP.

(STEVE LAUGHING)

Steve says I'M NOT SURE THAT'S THE
REACTION THEY WERE LOOKING FOR.
I MEAN, YOU CLEARLY
LOVED JACK MCCLELLAND,
BUT ON THE OTHER HAND,
HE TICKED YOU OFF A LOT.
INCLUDING BECAUSE HE REFUSED
TO PAY YOU AS MUCH AS THE MEN
WHO WORKED AT THAT COMPANY
EARNED AS WELL, RIGHT?

Anna says YES.

Steve says AND YOU MADE A STINK ABOUT IT.

Anna says I DID.

Steve says AND HE DIDN'T DO
ANYTHING ABOUT IT.

Anna says NO. HE DIDN'T.

Steve says NOW, WHY DIDN'T YOU QUIT?

Anna says I LOVED WHERE I WAS,
AND MY LOVE OF WHAT I WAS DOING
REALLY OUTWEIGHED
MY DISAPPOINTMENT THAT
I COULDN'T GET A RAISE.
AND PEOPLE... MEN EVEN AT SORT OF
LOWER LEVELS OF THE COMPANY
WERE MAKING MORE THAN I WAS.
BUT I FELT IT WAS A
PRIVILEGE TO WORK THERE,
AND IT FELT LIKE A PRIVILEGE.
YOU KNOW, WHAT OTHER JOB
CAN YOU IMAGINE
WHERE YOU COULD HAVE BREAKFAST
WITH... WE MENTIONED...
PIERRE BERTON
AND THEN HAVE A MEETING WITH
FARLEY MOWAT OVER HIS NEXT BOOK
AND THEN MAYBE GO AND
VISIT MARGARET LAURENCE
AT HER... AS SHE
CALLED IT... SHACK
ON THE OTONABEE RIVER
AND THEN COME BACK
AND HAVE DINNER WITH
MARGARET ATWOOD?
I MEAN, WHAT OTHER
POSSIBLE JOB...
AND SO MANY PEOPLE REALLY
DO JOBS THAT THEY HATE.

Steve says AND YOU LOVED YOURS.

Anna says I LOVED IT. ALL OF US
AT MCCLELLAND AND STEWART,
ALL OF US LOVED
AND FELT THAT WE WERE
DOING SOMETHING IMPORTANT.

Steve says HMM. I WANT TO GET BACK TO
THE ANGLE ABOUT YOUR FATHER,
BECAUSE AS YOU POINTED
OUT IN THAT FIRST ANSWER,
YOUR FATHER NEVER REALLY DID
COME BACK INTO YOUR LIFE.
HOWEVER... AND SHELDON,
WE'RE GOING TO PUT THE
EXCERPT OF THE BOOK UP HERE,
FROM THE MIDDLE OF PAGE THREE...
AT ONE POINT IN THE
1970S, SOMEBODY TELLS YOU
YOUR FATHER IS LIVING IN
WINNIPEG UNDER A DIFFERENT NAME.
AND HERE'S HOW YOU DESCRIBE IT...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Finding my father." The quote reads "I think I called at least four times before I found my voice. He denied all knowledge of a daughter, all knowledge of Hungary, my mother, his time in the Gulag. He claimed he was born here, in Canada. He made this claim with a heavy Hungarian accent, not so different from how my grandfather sounded after 20 years of trying to learn English."
Quoted from Anna Porter, "In other words." 2018.

Steve says EVENTUALLY, HE DID FESS UP.
YOU ARRIVED ON HIS DOORSTEP,
AND YOU MET HIM.
HOW DID THAT GO?

The caption changes to "Searching for my father."

Anna says HE, BY THEN, HAD ADMITTED...
ODDLY ENOUGH, NOT TO ME
BUT TO JACK MCCLELLAND...
THAT, INDEED, HE DID
HAVE A DAUGHTER.
JACK PHONED,
IMPERSONATING A
TIME
MAGAZINE REPORTER.
AND YOU KNOW, IT WAS
JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS.
I TOLD JACK THE STORY.
WE'RE SITTING IN A
BAR IN WINNIPEG.
IT WAS JUST AFTER SOME
PUBLISHING EVENT.
AND JACK SAID, "ARE YOU
KIDDING ME? HE'S IN WINNIPEG?
HANG ON A SECOND."

(STEVE LAUGHING)

Anna says AND HE TRACKED HIM DOWN
AND PHONED HIM
AND SAID, "I'M WORKING
FOR
TIME
MAGAZINE,
AND WE'RE DOING A STORY
ABOUT YOUR DAUGHTER,
WHO'S WORKING FOR A GUY
CALLED JACK MCCLELLAND.
AND WE'D LIKE TO INTERVIEW YOU."
AND MY FATHER ADMITTED
THAT I WAS HIS DAUGHTER.
SO WHEN I ARRIVED AT...
AND JACK TOOK ME THERE IN A CAB,
TO MAKE SURE THAT I ACTUALLY
WENT THROUGH WITH IT,
BECAUSE I WAS HAVING
SECOND THOUGHTS.
AND YOU KNOW,
HE WAS STANDING IN THE
DOORWAY, LOOKING...
I HAD ALWAYS IMAGINED HIM
TO BE SOMEWHAT HEROIC,
BECAUSE HUNGARIAN, YOU
KNOW, HEROES...
I GREW UP BELIEVING IN
HUNGARIAN HEROES, YOU KNOW.
BUT HE WAS THIS
NOT-PARTICULARLY-TALL MAN,
AND HE HAD NO HAIR TO SPEAK OFF.
IT WAS A LITTLE TUFT OF
HAIR JUST ABOVE HIS...
AND IT WAS WHITE.
AND THE ONLY THING IS THAT THERE
WAS SOMETHING ABOUT HIS EYES
THAT I THOUGHT, "GEEZ, YOU
KNOW, I LOOK LIKE THIS."
AND A VERY ORDINARY APARTMENT,
VERY ORDINARY PLACE.

Steve says AND YOU DID NOT HIT IT OFF?

Anna says NOT PARTICULARLY.
NOT PARTICULARLY.
BUT YOU KNOW,
I HAD THOUGHT THAT
OVER THE YEARS
BETWEEN WHEN HE WENT WEST...
AND THROUGHOUT MY CHILDHOOD
AND PARTICULARLY THE TIME...
I MEAN, MY CHILDHOOD WASN'T
ALL THAT BAD,
EVEN THOUGH IT WAS...
YOU KNOW, COMMUNISM, IT
WAS REALLY NOT GREAT.
BUT I DIDN'T HAVE ANY
STANDARDS OF COMPARISON.
BUT IN NEW ZEALAND,
I WAS MISERABLE.
I WAS IN A BOARDING SCHOOL.
AND I WROTE LETTERS
TO MY FATHER,
THINKING, YOU KNOW, HE
MIGHT COME AND RESCUE ME.
NONE OF THIS HAPPENED.
AND HE SENT NO SUPPORT PAYMENTS,
NO CHOCOLATES, NO...
AT CHRISTMAS, NOTHING.
SO ALL THOSE YEARS,
HE WAS OBVIOUSLY
LIVING IN HAPPY DENIAL.
AND SO, YES, I WAS NOT...

STEVE SAYS WELL, CAN I ASK YOU THE
HEAVY FOLLOW-UP QUESTION, THEN?

Anna says YES.

Steve says HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK YOUR
FATHER'S INDIFFERENCE TO YOU
MESSED YOU UP?

Anna says PROBABLY IRREVOCABLY.
I DON'T KNOW.

(BOTH LAUGHING)

Anna says AGAIN, I HAVE NO
STANDARDS OF COMPARISON.
BUT I KNOW A LOT OF PEOPLE WITH
A MOTHER AND A FATHER,
AND THEY'RE EVEN
MORE MESSED UP THAN I AM.
BUT I THINK THAT,
TO SOME DEGREE MAYBE,
JACK MCCLELLAND WAS A KIND OF
A FATHER FIGURE, YOU KNOW?
BECAUSE HE WAS ALSO
A STORYTELLER.
AND MY GRANDFATHER STOOD IN
INSTEAD OF MY FATHER.
HE WAS SORT OF
THE MALE IN THE FAMILY,
AND HE AND I
WERE VERY, VERY CLOSE.
AND HE WAS A GREAT STORYTELLER,
JUST, YOU KNOW, BRIMMING OVER
WITH FANTASTIC TALES
OF DRAGONS AND WITCHES
AND HEROIC HUNGARIANS, AS
I MENTIONED BEFORE,
ALTHOUGH, FRANKLY,
AS I DISCOVERED
FROM MY READING
A LITTLE BIT LATER,
HUNGARIANS GENERALLY LOST
MOST OF THE BATTLES
THAT THEY WERE IN, SO...

Steve says HEROICALLY, THOUGH.

Anna says OH, ABSOLUTELY HEROICALLY.

Steve says INDEED.

Anna says AND YOU KNOW...
SO I HAD A FATHER
FIGURE AT THAT POINT.
AND I THINK, YOU KNOW, JACK,
TO SOME DEGREE...
BECAUSE HE TAUGHT ME EVERYTHING,
REALLY, ABOUT PUBLISHING...
HE WAS ALSO A KIND OF
FATHER FIGURE.
SO I TENDED TO OVERLOOK
THINGS LIKE NOT
GETTING PAID ENOUGH.

Steve says WELL, I WONDER IF YOU BROKE
HIS HEART A LITTLE BIT
WHEN YOU DECIDED TO LEAVE HIM
AND START YOUR OWN PUBLISHING
COMPANY, KEY PORTER,
IN 1982.
HOW DID HE TAKE TO THAT?

Anna says HE WAS OKAY, I THINK,
BY THE TIME I STARTED
MY OWN COMPANY.
I LEFT HIM FIRST,
AND I WAS HOPING TO GET A JOB
DOING SOMETHING OTHER
THAN PUBLISHING.
I MEAN, REALLY, I APPROACHED
PEOPLE IN TELEVISION,
THINKING THIS WOULD BE FUN.

Steve says MOSES ZNAIMER YOU APPROACHED.

Anna says INDEED I DID.

Steve says FELLOW REFUGEE.

The caption changes to "Madam President."

Anna says INDEED. I TRIED A NUMBER...
I TALKED TO PETER HERRNDORF,
AND HE DIDN'T EVEN UNDERSTAND
WHAT WAS I TALKING...
HE REALLY WANTED
TO TALK ABOUT THE BOOKS
THAT WE WERE ABOUT TO
PUBLISH ANYWAY.
I WAS SORT OF
AT HOME FOR A WHILE.
I HAD A NEW BABY.
AND THE REASON I
GAVE JACK FOR LEAVING
WAS THAT MY JOB
AS EDITOR IN CHIEF
WAS MORE THAN FULL TIME.
I WAS WORKING SEVEN DAYS A WEEK,
AND I HAD A TINY KID AT HOME,
AND I HAD A NEW BABY.
AND JACK'S VIEW OF ALL
THAT WAS, YOU KNOW,
"YOU BRING THE BABY IN, AND
WHEN YOU GO TO MEETINGS,
LEAVE THE BABY HERE ON THE
FLOOR," WHICH I DID FOR A WHILE.

(STEVE LAUGHING)

Anna says BUT IT JUST WASN'T...
I MEAN, JACK WAS NOT
REALLY A GREAT BABYSITTER.
HE DID HIS BEST, BUT
IT WASN'T WORKING.
AND I HAD TO GET OUT
AND BE WITH MY KIDS.
SO REALLY, KEY PORTER
STARTED LATER.
BY THAT TIME, JACK HAD APPOINTED
AN ENORMOUSLY CAPABLE WOMAN
CALLED LINDA MCKNIGHT,
WHO HAD PREVIOUSLY WORKED FOR ME
WHEN I WAS EDITOR IN CHIEF
AND SHE WAS PRESIDENT.
AND SO HE WAS KIND OF SET,
AND HE WAS NOT SURPRISED
THAT I WENT BACK INTO
THE BOOK BUSINESS.

STEVE SAYS WELL, I WANT TO
READ ANOTHER EXCERPT HERE
ABOUT ONE OF THE AUTHORS THAT
YOU EVENTUALLY PUBLISHED.
SHE HAPPENS TO BE THE MOTHER
OF THE CURRENT
PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA...

Another quote from the book appears on screen, under the title "The PM's wife." The quote reads "When we first met in 1980, Margaret Trudeau was stunningly beautiful, in her mid-twenties, too young to be the mother of three little children, and much too young to be the wife of Canada's prime minister. Pierre Trudeau, despite all his dashing ways, was thirty years older and unable to share in her sense of fun, her lightness of being a former 'flower child.' That thirty-year age difference was one of the factors in their publicly failing marriage, but only one. Her resistance to the coddled, formulaic existence expected of the wife if a prime minister, his highly intellectual approach to problem-solving, her desire to be free of constraints, her insensitivity to embarrassment, his natural superiority to those he regarded as intellectually less capable (most people) than he was, his frequent long absences, and his unrelenting work schedule all contributed to their breakup."

Steve says HOW WELL DID YOU KNOW
MARGARET TRUDEAU?

Anna says WELL, I REALLY ONLY KNEW HER
WELL DURING THE PERIOD OF TIME
THAT WE WERE WORKING
ON THIS BOOK TOGETHER.

Steve says DID YOU LIKE HER?

Anna says I LIKED HER VERY MUCH.
I LIKED HER,
AND I WAS REALLY VERY
SYMPATHETIC TO HER PLIGHT.
I COULDN'T IMAGINE
HOW SHE WAS PUTTING UP
WITH ALL THE CONSTRAINTS
OF THE KIND OF LIFE
THAT SHE HAD CHOSEN
WITH THE PRIME MINISTER.
I LIKED HER A LOT.
SHE USED TO COME TO THE HOUSE.
SHE CAME MORE THAN ONCE.
AND SHE WOULD BE GOING TO SOME...
AND SHE FELT VERY COMFORTABLE
DROPPING OFF ONE OF
THE KIDS AND GOING OFF
AND DOING WHATEVER IT
WAS THAT SHE HAD TO DO.
AND THE BOOK WAS, I THINK...
YOU KNOW, I REREAD IT WHEN
I WAS WRITING MY BOOK.
AND IT'S NOT A BAD BOOK, YOU
KNOW, AND SHE DID...

Steve says SOLD A LOT OF COPIES.

Anna says SOLD A L... AND SHE
DID HER OWN WRITING,
WHICH IS, YOU KNOW...
SHE HAS A NATURAL
TALENT FOR WRITING.

Anna says I WAS SORT OF HOPING THAT SHE
W OULD DO MORE WRITING,
AND AS YOU PROBABLY
KNOW, SHE HAS.

Steve says INDEED.

Anna says AND THE BOOK THAT SHE WROTE,
THE SORT OF, I THINK,
FINAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY...
ALTHOUGH I SAW HER IN BC
MAYBE FOUR YEARS AGO.
AND I SUGGESTED SHE
SHOULD WRITE A NOVEL,
BECAUSE SHE REALLY DOES
HAVE A TALENT.

Steve says YOUR CAREER CONTINUES TO
TAKE YOU TO PLACES
THAT A LITTLE FIVE-YEAR-OLD GIRL
IN JAIL IN HUNGARY, I SUSPECT,
NEVER THOUGHT IT WOULD GO.

(Anna LAUGHING)

Steve says AND I WANT TO TALK
ABOUT YOUR DAYS
ON CORPORATE BOARDS,
BECAUSE EVENTUALLY,
YOU STARTED HANGING OUT
WITH PEOPLE THE LIKES
OF DAVID BRINKLEY
AND WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY
AND HENRY KISSINGER
AND GIANNI AGNELLI,
THE ITALIAN MAGNATE,
PAUL VOLCKER,
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI,
GEORGE F. WILL,
MARGARET THATCHER...
AT ANY POINT IN ANY OF
THOSE MEETINGS,
DID YOU LOOK AROUND THE ROOM
AND SAY, "WHAT THE
HELL AM I DOING HERE?"

Anna says FREQUENTLY.

Steve says FREQUENTLY?

(LAUGHING)

Steve says AND YET, YOU WERE.

The caption changes to "A Corporate Director."

Anna says I REALLY, REALLY ENJOYED THOSE...
YOU'RE REALLY TALKING
ABOUT ONLY ONE OF
THE BOARDS THAT I WAS ON.
MOST OF THE BOARDS I WAS ON
WERE NOT QUITE SO ELEVATED
IN TERMS OF THE PEOPLE.

Steve says THIS IS HOLLINGER,
CONRAD BLACK'S COMPANY.

Anna says YES. WELL, IT'S ACTUALLY
HIS ADVISORY BOARD.

Steve says OKAY.

Anna says AND I LOVED THOSE MEETINGS.
THEY WERE FASCINATING.
THE PEOPLE AROUND THE
TABLE WERE...
THE PEOPLE WHOSE NAMES
YOU'VE MENTIONED...
WERE REALLY, REALLY
INTERESTING TO LISTEN TO
ABOUT ISSUES OF THE DAY,
FOREIGN POLICY.
AND I FELT PRIVILEGED
TO BE ABLE TO BE THERE
AND LISTEN TO IT.
I DID NOT SPEAK A LOT.
I ASKED THE OCCASIONAL QUESTION.
AND MRS. THATCHER TOOK
ME TO THE WASHROOM ONCE,
BECAUSE I HAD BROKEN A LEG
AND I WAS IN A WHEELCHAIR.
AND SHE SAID, "OH, COME
ON. LET ME TAKE YOU."
(LAUGHING)
SO SHE WHEELED ME OFF TO
THE WASHROOM ONCE.
BUT YOU KNOW WHAT?
I WAS VERY IMPRESSED
WITH THAT GROUP OF PEOPLE
AND WITH CONRAD BLACK,
THE WAY HE HANDLED THOSE
MEETINGS AND OTHER MEETINGS.
CONRAD IS ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE
WHO IS STILL ABLE
TO COME UP WITH A WORD
THAT I VAGUELY KNOW
BUT DON'T QUITE
AND HAVE TO GO LOOK IT UP.
AND AT HOLLINGER BOARD MEETINGS,
I ACTUALLY USED TO WRITE DOWN
THE OCCASIONAL WORD AND PHRASE
THAT HE USED, BECAUSE...

Steve says THEY WERE IMPRESSIVE.

Anna says HE IS IMPRESSIVE.

Steve says I NEED TO ASK YOU NOW ABOUT
ANOTHER SUPERSTAR IN YOUR LIFE
THAT WE HAVEN'T
TALKED ABOUT YET,
AND THAT WOULD BE YOUR HUSBAND
OF 46 YEARS, JULIAN PORTER.
HOW DO I PUT THIS?
MARRIAGE HAD NEVER BEEN
A REALLY SUCCESSFUL THING
IN YOUR FAMILY, RIGHT?
IS THAT OKAY TO SAY?

Anna says I THINK THAT WOULD BE...

Steve says YOUR MOTHER
HAD HOW MANY?

Anna says MORE THAN SHE'D
LIKE TO ADMIT, YES.

Steve says THREE? AT
LEAST THREE?

Anna says AT LEAST.

Steve says AT LEAST THREE. OKAY.
AND YET, YOU'VE BEEN MARRIED
TO THIS GUY... BY ALL ACCOUNTS,
QUITE HAPPILY... FOR 46 YEARS.

Anna says YEAH.

Steve says WHAT'S THE SECRET?

The caption changes to "Truly Canadian."

Anna says HE'S GREAT.
HE'S FUNNY, AND I ENJOY...
YOU KNOW, WE
TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING.
WE HAVE GREAT CONVERSATIONS.
HE'S VERY ENGAGED WITH POLITICS.
HE'S VERY ENGAGED
WITH ART, AS YOU KNOW.

Steve says INDEED. HE WAS IN THAT
CHAIR, TALKING ABOUT HIS BOOK.

Anna says YES. AND HE LOVES ART.

Steve says TALK ABOUT POLITICS
FOR A SECOND,
BECAUSE HE, IN 1985,
RAN TO BE A PROGRESSIVE
CONSERVATIVE MEMBER
OF THE ONTARIO LEGISLATURE
IN A RIDING ABOUT FIVE
MINUTES FROM THIS STUDIO.

Anna says INDEED.

Steve says AND HE LOST.

Anna says TOTALLY.

Steve says IN HINDSIGHT, ARE YOU
HAPPY THAT HE LOST?

Anna says DELIGHTED.
(LAUGHING)
REALLY. HE WAS NOT HAPPY.

Steve says NO. WHO RUNS TO LOSE?

Anna says NO. HE WANTED TO WIN.
WE HAD A COUPLE
OF DOGS AT THE TIME,
AND HE USED TO TAKE THEM
FOR LONG WALKS
TO KIND OF RECOVER FROM
HAVING LOST.
AND HE WOULD LET THEM POO
ON VARIOUS PEOPLE'S LAWNS,
KNOWING THEY HADN'T
VOTED FOR HIM,
INCLUDING PEOPLE WHO HAD
COME UP AND SAID,
"JULIAN, YOU KNOW, IT'S
SO WONDERFUL YOU'RE RUNNING.
I SUPPORT YOU ALL THE WAY."
AND THEN THEY
DIDN'T VOTE FOR HIM.
JULIAN LOST OUR BLOCK.

Steve says THAT YOU LIVE ON?

Anna says YES.

Steve says WELL, THAT WAS A PRETTY
GOOD ELECTION FOR THE LIB...

Anna says HE LOST TO A GUY NAMED IAN
SCOTT, WHO TURNED OUT TO BE,
MAYBE THE SECOND-BEST
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF ALL TIME.

Steve says THIS IS TRUE.

Anna says SO, YOU KNOW, THERE'S
NO SHAME IN THAT.
BUT JULIAN ACTUALLY WOULD
HAVE BEEN ATTORNEY GENERAL,
HAD HE WON.
AS HIS FATHER WAS.
AS HIS FATHER WAS.
AND I THINK HE'S ALWAYS
REGRETTED IT A LITTLE BIT
THAT HE DIDN'T,
BUT I DON'T KNOW.
I MEAN, WE'VE HAD MANY OF
THESE CONVERSATIONS.
WE WENT OFF TO EUROPE, AND HE
SPENT A FAIR BIT OF TIME
LICKING HIS WOUNDS
AS WE TRAVELLED AROUND.
AND HE WAS, YOU KNOW,
EXPOUNDING ON VARIOUS ARTISTS.
AND PERIODICALLY, HE
WOULD LOOK A LITTLE SAD.

STEVE SAYS BUT YOU KNOW WHAT
HE DID BEFORE THAT?
WELL, I KNOW THIS BECAUSE
I READ IT IN YOUR BOOK.
HE WENT TO IAN SCOTT'S
CAMPAIGN HEADQUARTERS
ON ELECTION NIGHT
AND HUGGED HIM TO
CONGRATULATE HIM FOR WINNING.

Anna says YES.

Steve says THAT'S EXTRAORDINARY.

Anna says YES.

Steve says DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE SEEING
SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY
AS IT HAPPENED?

Anna says JULIAN LIKED IAN VERY
MUCH AND RESPECTED HIM.
THEY HAD KNOWN
EACH OTHER BEFORE,
SO THE ELECTIONS, THAT ELECTION,
WAS NOT THE ONLY TIME THEY MET.
BUT HE'S A VERY GENEROUS MAN,
SO HE DOESN'T HOLD GRUDGES,
UNLESS SOMEBODY
ATTACKS HIS WIFE.

Steve says AND THEN HE'S A MISERABLE...

Anna says OH, HE CAN BE VERY NASTY.

Anna says AS HE SHOULD BE.

(LAUGHING)

Steve says I WANT TO SPEND OUR
REMAINING MOMENTS
TALKING ABOUT YOUR
COMPANY, KEY PORTER.
WHAT IS THE STATUS
OF KEY PORTER TODAY?

Anna says SADLY, IT IS A
THING OF THE PAST.

Steve says WHY?

The caption changes to "Losing Key Porter."

Anna says I WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK
THAT I COULDN'T WRITE
WHILE WORKING FULL TIME.
AND IT WAS A BOOK ABOUT
THE HOLOCAUST IN HUNGARY.
AND IT WAS A BOOK I
NEEDED TO WRITE.
I NEEDED TO UNDERSTAND
HOW IT HAD UNFOLDED
AND WHY THE PEOPLE
I HAD ALWAYS CONSIDERED
WONDERFUL AND HEROIC,
AS WE MENTIONED EARLIER,
BECAME ALLIES OF THE NAZIS
AND REALLY AIDED THE DEPORTATION
OF HUNGARY'S JEWISH CITIZENS
TO AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU,
WHERE MOST OF THEM PERISHED.
AND I REALLY NEEDED TO
WRITE THAT BOOK.
SO, I WAS ALREADY
STARTING ON IT,
AND I REALIZED I HAD TO GET
OUT OF THE BOOK BUSINESS.
I SOLD THE COMPANY TO
A GENTLEMAN
BY THE NAME OF HAROLD FENN,
WHO HAD A DISTRIBUTION
WAREHOUSING OPERATION.
AND HE THOUGHT HE WOULD LIKE TO
HAVE A PUBLISHING COMPANY.
AND SHORTLY AFTER THAT, I QUIT.
SO, REALLY, THE COMPANY ITSELF
WENT ON FOR A WHILE
WITH HAROLD AND HIS SONS.
AND THEN IT WENT BANKRUPT.
I MEAN, THE ENTIRE ENTERPRISE,
H.B. FENN, WENT BANKRUPT.
AND KEY PORTER WAS
JUST A SMALLISH PART OF
THAT LARGE OPERATION.
AND SADLY, IT DIDN'T MAKE IT.

Steve says HOW DIFFICULT IS IT, AS YOU
LOOK BACK ON YOUR LIFE...
BECAUSE EVERYBODY
WHO STARTS SOMETHING
WANTS TO LEAVE THAT KIND OF
A LEGACY, OF COURSE.
AND AS YOU'VE SAID,
IT'S NO LONGER THERE.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT?

Anna says I FEEL SAD ABOUT IT.
I STILL MISS...
I MISS A LOT OF THE PEOPLE.
I WAS ENORMOUSLY FORTUNATE,
AGAIN, IN THAT COMPANY
IN HAVING REALLY SUPERB PEOPLE.
WRITING, YOU SPEND
A LOT OF TIME ALONE,
WHEREAS IN PUBLISHING,
YOU HAVE ALMOST
NO TIME TO YOURSELF.
IT'S VERY DIFFERENT. AND I MISS
OPENING A NEW MANUSCRIPT
THAT I JUST RECEIVED
AND READING THE FIRST PAGE
AND GOING, "WOW!"
I MISS THAT. I MEAN,
I DO THAT WITH BOOKS NOW.
I MISS THE SMELL, EVEN,
OF A FRESH, JUST-PRINTED BOOK.
IT'S GOT A CERTAIN SMELL
TO IT THAT I MISS.
I MISS GOING TO FRANKFURT.
I USED TO LOVE THE FRANKFURT
INTERNATIONAL BOOK FAIR
AND SEEING ALL MY FRIENDS
FROM OTHER COUNTRIES.
AND I HAVE STAYED IN TOUCH
WITH MANY OF THEM, TOO,
BUT YOU KNOW, IT'S DIFFERENT,
BECAUSE WE DON'T SHARE...
WE USED TO MEET
OVER SPECIFIC MANUSCRIPTS
AND WRITERS WHOSE
WORK WE ADMIRED
AND EXCHANGE IDEAS
AND EXCHANGE, IN FACT, WRITERS.
YOU KNOW, "IF YOU DO
THIS BOOK, WE'LL DO YOUR BOOK.
IF YOU DO FARLEY MOWAT
THIS YEAR,
WE'RE GOING TO TAKE
THAT NORWEGIAN AUTHOR,
AND WE'RE GOING
TO PUBLISH HIM HERE."
SO, THAT KIND OF COMRADERY...
I MISS THAT.

The caption changes to "Producer: Steve Paikin, @spaikin."

Steve says WELL, THE WAY YOU HAVE DESCRIBED
IT IS JUST EXTRAORDINARY.
AND THOSE STORIES AND MORE
ARE ALL IN HERE.
AND YOU KNOW EVERYBODY,
ANNA PORTER.
I GOT TO SAY,
YOU KNOW EVERYBODY.
I DON'T KNOW IF THERE'S AN
INDEX IN THE BACK OF THE BOOK,
'CAUSE I DIDN'T CHECK,
BUT YOU KNOW EVERYBODY.
THERE MUST BE 1,000 NAMES
IN THAT INDEX.
ANYWAY, THE NAME OF
THIS BOOK IS
IN OTHER WORDS:
HOW I FELL IN LOVE WITH
CANADA ONE BOOK AT A TIME,
AND I'M SO GLAD IT'S BROUGHT
YOU TO OUR STUDIO TONIGHT.
THANK YOU.

Anna says THANK YOU.
IT'S GOOD TO BE HERE AGAIN.

Watch: Anna Porter: One Book at a Time