Transcript: Imprint season 13 episode 18 | Jan 23, 2002

Tina Srebotnjak stands in a studio with pieces of art in red and orange hanging in the background.
She’s in her late thirties, with short chestnut hair and bangs. She’s wearing rounded glasses and a beige blazer.

Tina says HELLO THERE, I'M
TINA SREBOTNJAK, TIME TO IS
IN FOR ANOTHER EDITION OF
“IMPRINT.”

Piano music plays.
In animation, the title “Imprint” appears against a waving background in orange hues.

Then, a book bye Sue Miller with a pale blue cover appears on screen. The title reads “The World Below.”

Tina continues TONIGHT, WRITER SUE MILLER
TELLS US WHY MARRIAGE IS
SUCH A COMPELLING TOPIC FOR
FICTION.

In a snippet from her interview, Sue says
PEOPLE ARE VERY EXPOSED
TO EACH OTHER IN MARRIAGE.
THEIR WEAKNESSES AND THEIR
STRENGTHS, THEIR
VULNERABILITIES, THEIR
SEXUALITY, OBVIOUSLY.
ALL OF THESE THINGS WHICH
ARE OF TREMENDOUS INTEREST
TO THE PUR YENT WRITER OF
FICTION ARE THERE TO BE
EXAMINED IN A SITUATION, A
LOVE SITUATION BETWEEN TWO
PEOPLE, A SITUATION OF
INTENSE EMOTION.

Tina says THE NOVEL “AFTER
SEPTEMBER 11TH” WHAT HAS
CHANGED IN THE WAY FICTION
IS BEING WRITTEN AND READ.

Now a clip shows a man giving a lecture in a university classroom.

Tina continues AND AMERICAN HUMOUR WRITER
PJ O'ROURKE WITH HIS TAKE ON
WHAT HAS CHANGED.

In a clip, Peter says
WE SAW IN THE WAKE OF
THESE ATTACKS YOU SAW
SURVIVOR COME ON.
WAIT A MINUTE, YOU KNOW,
5,000 PEOPLE JUST GOT VOTED
OFF THE ISLAND OF MANHATTAN
AND ARE YOU OVER HERE, YOU
KNOW, EATING SNAKES, WE'RE
NOT WITH YOU HERE, YOU KNOW

Theme music plays as the opening sequence rolls.
Fast clips show books and maps in hues of orange and red.

Then Tina reappears and says
IT'S A CLICHÉ BUT
IT'S TRUE.
SEPTEMBER 11TH CHANGED
EVERYTHING.
THAT'S A SENTIMENT WE HEAR
OVER AND OVER IN JUST ABOUT
EVERY WALK OF LIFE.
WELL, TODAY WE WANT TO TALK
ABOUT HOW SEPTEMBER 11th HAS
INFLUENCED LITERATURE.
HOW HAS IT AFFECTED WRITERS
AND THEIR READERS.
WHAT ROLE IS THERE FOR
SERIOUS NOVELS.
AND THE OFTEN DEBATED
QUESTION CAN LITERATURE
STILL BE RELEVANT IN TIMES
LIKE THESE.
HERE WITH SOME ANSWERS WE
HOPE ARE SANDRA MARTIN FROM
THE GLOBE AND MAIL AND
BRONWYN DID-

Tina turns to Sandra and says
AS A READER, HOW
DID YOU RESPOND TO SEPTEMBER 11th.
DID YOU FIND READING FICTION
A LITTLE TRIVIAL.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Sandra Martin. The Globe and Mail."

Sandra is in her late forties, with short spiky blue hair. She’s wearing a gray coat over a blue satin blouse, and a burgundy silk scarf.

She says NO, I DIDN'T.
BUT I DO KNOW THAT I WANTED
HARD-CORE INFORMATION
IMMEDIATELY IN THE AFTERMATH
OF SEPTEMBER 11th.
AND I THINK THAT ONE OF THE
REASONS WAS THAT YOU SORT OF
LOOKED TO GOOD FICTION TO
RAISE QUESTIONS IN YOUR OWN
MIND AND TO THINK ABOUT
DIFFICULT ISSUES.
AND I THINK RIGHT THEN WE
WANTED ANSWERS, WE WANTED
FACTS.
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN, WHERE
DID IT HAPPEN, WHY.
WE WENT TO TELEVISION.
AND AFTERWARDS WE WENT TO
FICTION, I THINK.

Tina says I NEVER WATCHED
MORE TELEVISION IN MY LIFE,
I MUST SAY THAN IN THOSE
DAYS AFTER.

She turns to Bronwyn and says
WHAT ABOUT YOU.

The caption changes to "Bronwyn Drainie. Quill and Quire."

Bronwyn is in her forties, with short wavy blond hair. She’s wearing a pale green blouse.

She says WELL I THINK I AN
PRACTICALLY EVERYBODY I KNOW
WENT INTO A SORT OF FUNK FOR
ABOUT A MONTH, YOU KNOW.
AND IT'S TRUE THAT DURING
THAT TIME ALL YOU SEEMED TO
BE ABLE TO COPE WITH WAS CNN
AND NEWSWORLD AND YOU SORT
OF KEPT GOING FOR THAT STUFF
EVEN THOUGH YOU KNEW IT WAS
BAD FOR YOU, YOU KNOW.
LIKE JUNK FOOD.

Sandra says YOU KNOW, I WAS SUPPOSED
TO GO A TALK ON A BOOK ON
SEPTEMBER 11TH.
WE ARE ALL SUPPOSED TO HAVE
BEEN DOING SOMETHING ELSE
OTHER THAN WHAT WE DID DO.
AND THE TALK WAS POSTPONED
BUT IT OCCURRED TO ME
AFTERWARDS IT WAS THE
PERFECT BOOK TO DISCUSS
AFTER AN EVENT LIKE
SEPTEMBER 11th.
WAS DAVID ADAMS “MERCY AMONG
THE CHILDREN” WHICH IS A
BOOK THAT ASKS HOW DO YOU
RESPOND WHEN AN EVIL IS DONE
TO YOU, REVENGE, OR
FORGIVENESS.
AND IT SEEMED TO ME WHEN I
THOUGHT ABOUT IT AFTERWARDS
THIS WAS THE PERFECT BOOK TO
DISCUSS, BUT WE COULDN'T
DISCUSS IT UNTIL WE ACTUALLY
SORT OF RECOVERED FROM THE
SHOCK AND REGAINED A LITTLE
EQUILIBRIUM AND THEN TALK IN
A MORE ABSTRACT WAY ABOUT
ISSUES.
AND THAT IS WHERE GOOD
FICTION COMES IN, I THINK.

Tina says THAT IS
INTERESTING.
WHAT ROLE DO YOU THINK
FICTION CAN PLAY IN DARK
TIMES LIKE THE DARK TIMES
SINCE SEPTEMBER 11th.

Bronwyn says WELL, EXACTLY LIKE THAT.
I MEAN, I WAS REMEMBERING
THAT AT THE TIME OF THE
MONTREAL MASSACRE WHICH WAS
ANOTHER HORRIBLE SHOCK, I
HAPPENED TO BE READING
“AFFLICTION” BY RUSSELL
BANKS AT THAT TIME.
AND THIS IS BOOK WHH IS
ABOUT A MAN WHO GOES BERSERK
AND ULTIMATELY KILLS A
COUPLE OF PEOPLE.
AND THE WHOLE STORY IS TOLD
FROM INSIDE HIS HEAD.
AND IT WAS EXACTLY WHAT I
NEEDED TO BE READING AT THAT
TIME TO GIVE ME SOME KIND OF
INSIGHT INTO WHO MARK LAPINE
WAS AND WHY HE HAD DONE WHAT
HE HAD DONE.
AND I COULDN'T HAVE FOUND A
MORE RELEVANT BOOK.
AND IT JUST -- FICTION
SHINES THOSE LIGHTS INTO THE
DARK CORNERS.
AND ILLUMINATES THEM.
IT DOESN'T PROVIDE ANSWERS
BUT IT GIVES YOU A SENSE OF
UNDERSTANDING BECAUSE THAT
IS WHAT NOVEL WRITERS ARE
ALL ABOUT.

Tina says RICHARD B WRIGHT
SAID IN HIS SPEECH, I THINK
AFTER HE WON THE
GOVERNOR-GENERAL'S AWARD
THAT HE THOUGHT AMERICANS
HAD INFANT LYZED THEIR
FICTION THAT THEY SO BOUGHT
INTO THE HAPPY ENDING THAT
THEY, IN FACT, HAD NOT
TOLTED THEMSELVES ENOUGH SAD
STORIES, THERE WASN'T ENOUGH
TRAGEDY IN THEIR WORLD OF
LITERATURE.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Bronwyn says I THINK THERE IS SOME
POINT THOUGH IN SAYING THAT
AMERICAN HISTORY, AN
CANADIAN HISTORY TO A LARGE
EXTENT AS WELL, HAS NOT BEEN
STEEPED IN A A GREAT DEAL OF
TRAGEDY AND A GREAT DEAL OF
TERRIBLE EVENTS, YOU KNOW.
AND SO THEREFORE, OUR
FICTION WRITERS ARE IN A
LITTLE BIT OF A QUANDTRY,
YOU KNOW, ABOUT THE SERIOUS
THINGS THAT THEY ARE GOING
TO WRITE ABOUT.
I THINK THAT EUROPEAN AND
WRITERS FROM MANY OTHER
PARTS OF THE WORLD HAVE A
SORT OF DEEPER SENSE OF
TRAGEDY, OF HUMAN TRAGEDY
AND READERS IN OTHER
COUNTRIES, PARTICULARLY IN
EUROPE, I THINK LOOK TO
THEIR WRITERS FOR NOT
ANSWERS BUT FOR THAT KIND OF
UNDERSTANDING, I'M TALKING
ABOUT, WHEN TIMES ARE VERY,
VERY BAD.
I REMEMBER WHEN THINGS WERE
GOING GREAT SUDDENLY AFTER
THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL
AND IN PRAGUE THEY WERE
DANCING IN THE STREETS
BECAUSE HAVEL HAD JUST BEEN
LET OUT T WAS GREAT TIMES.
A WOMAN THERE WAS
INTERVIEWED BY A WESTERN
JOURNALIST, HOW DID SHE FEEL
ABOUT THESE EVENTS.
AND SHE SAID I CAN'T EVEN
BEGIN TO EXPRESS HOW I FEEL.
I LEAVE THAT TO THE POETS TO
EXPRESS HOW I FEEL.
AND I REMEMBER THINKING HOW
A STRIKING THOUGHT THAT WAS,
AND HOW WOULD YOU NEVER EVER
HEAR AN AMERICAN OR CANADIAN
SAY SOMETHING LIKE THAT WE
WOULDN'T EVEN THINK TO GO TO
OUR ARTISTS I DON'T THINK TO
REFLECT THESE HUGE MOMENTOUS
MOMENTS OF EITHER GOOD OR
BAD IN OUR SOCIETY.

Sandra says WELL, POEMS I THINK SORT
OF SNEAK UP ON YOU.
AND THAT'S WHY THERE ISN'T
FICTION IN THE IMMEDIATE
AFTERMATH OF SEPTEMBER 11th.
IT HAS TO BE ABSORBED,
EXPERIENCED, IT HAS TO THINK
ABOUT IT YOU THINK OF
SOMETHING LIKE JOSEPH
HELLER'S “CATCH-22” WHICH
WAS SO POPULAR IN THE
VIETNAM WAR ERA, IT WAS
ACTUALLY WRITTEN ABOUT WORLD
WAR II.
BUT IT WAS PUBLISHED IN '61.

Bronwyn says NOW I'M READING “AMERICAN
PASTORAL” BY PHILIP ROTH
WHICH IS ALL ABOUT THE
VIETNAM WAR, THE LAST TIME
AMERICA WENT TOTALLY CRAZY.
IT IS A PERFECTLY RELEVANT
BOOK TO BE READING NOW AFTER
IS 1th.

Tina says BUT GIN TT IT
IS EARLY DAYS AND OBVIOUSLY
IT IS, BOOKS DON'T GET
PUBLISHED IN FOUR MONTHS, DO
YOU THINK THAT THE WAY BOOKS
WILL BE WRITTEN WILL BE
DIFFERENT, SANDRA?
DO YOU THINK -- WHAT AFFECT,
I GUESS I'M ASKING DO YOU
THINK IT WILL HAVE ON READERS.

Sandra says WELL, I THINK IT WILL
HAVE AN EFFECT ON PEOPLE AND
IT WILL PROBABLY HAVE A
GREATER EFFECT ON AMERICANS
BECAUSE THEY HAVE HAD THIS
ENORMOUS SHOCK, I MEAN, YOU KNOW.
I HAVE JUST BEEN READING A
BOOK “THE ADVANCED CALI” --
AND SHE IS WRITING ABOUT
GOODNESS.
SHE IS TRYING TO EXPLORE
WHAT DOES GOODNESS MEAN, HOW
DOES IT FIT INTO OUR
SOCIETY.
AND THE REASON SHE'S DOING
THAT IS BECAUSE SHE SAID
EVERYBODY WAS TALKING SO
MUCH ABOUT EVIL, JUST SEEMED
TO ME THAT WE MOSTLY ARE
GOOD AND TRY TO BE GOOD AND
NO ONE REALLY THINKS ABOUT
THAT OR TALKS ABOUT IT.
SO ONE OF THE CHARACTERS IN
HER BOOK, IT IS ACTUALLY A
TEENAGE GIRL, 19-YEAR-OLD
DROPPED OUT OF UNIVERSITY,
LEFT HOME AND IS SITTING ON
THE CONNER OF BATHURST AND
BLOOR HOLD UP A SIGN SAYING
“GOODNESS” THIS IS THE WAY
SHE IS TRYING TO SEEK IT.
I THINK THAT VARIOUS THINGS
WILL -- WILL AFFECT THE WAY
PEOPLE WRITE NOVELS.
BUT IT WON'T BE SOMETHING WE
CAN CHART.
IT WON'T BE SOMETHING THAT
YOU CAN PLOT AND SAY THERE'S
X THERE'S Y.

Tina says HERE ARE THE NOVELS
AFTER SEPTEMBER 11TH.
LET'S GET TO THIS ISSUE OF
RELEVANCE WHICH KEEPS COMING UP.
THIS IS A RECURRING THEME IN
LITERATURE, PHILIP ROTH I
THINK SAID THE NOVEL WAS
DEAD 35 YEARS AGO, TOM WOLFE
DID THIS THING ABOUT NOBODY
IS WRITING AMERICAN REALISM
RIGHT THERE EXCEPT HIM.
AND THEN JONATHAN Franzen
WHO GAVE US “THE CORRECTIONS.”
WROTE A LONG ESSAY SAYING HE
WAS REALLY WORRIED ABOUT THE
RELEVANCE OF THE AMERICAN
NOVEL.
WHAT ARE PEOPLE SO WORRIED
ABOUT.

Bronwyn says WHAT IS REALLY
INTERESTING ABOUT JONATHAN'S
ARGUMENT IS THAT IT CAME OUT
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE '90s.
IT DIDN'T COME OUT NOW AFTER
SOMETHING TERRIBLE HAD
HAPPENED.
IT CAME OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF
THAT SOPH RIFK PERIOD WHEN
WE WERE INUNDATED BY
TECHNICAL CULTURE AND THAT
IS A MUCH MORE DANGEROUS
THING FOR NOVELISTS, I THINK
THAN SOMEBODY BOMBING THE
WORLD TRADE CENTRE.
THAT IS FODDER FOR NOVELS
FOR YEARS AND YEARS TO COME.
WHEREAS YOU KNOW PROVIDING
PEOPLE WITH HOME
ENTERTAINMENT CENTRES AND
ALL KINDS OF WAYS TO TELL
THE STORY YOUR SELF, YOU
KNOW, WITH THOSE INTERACTIVE
DIDLY DOOPS AND TECHIE TOYS,
IT IS A BUNCH OF TOYS, THAT
IS A MUCH MORE DANGEROUS
THING FOR THE FUTURE OF THE
NOVEL, I THINK, THAN WAR OR
DEATH.
I MEAN THESE ARE THE
SUBJECTS OF NOVELS.
AND THAT IS WHAT HE WAS
CONCERNED ABOUT.

Tina says YES, AND HE COMES
OUT AT THE END, HE'S
OPTIMISTIC AFTER 10,000 OR
20,000 WORDS HE COMES OUT AT
THE HE OTHER END OPTIMISTIC.
ARE WE RIGHT TO BE WORRIED.

Bronwyn says HE COMES OUT OPTIMISTIC
BECAUSE HE HAS FINALLY
IDENTIFY THE FACT THAT THERE
ARE A CERTAIN NUMBER, AN
MAYBE A FAIRLY FIXED NUMBER
OF REAL READERS IN THE
WORLD.
AND IT IS A SMALL NUMBER,
IT'S ALWAYS GOING TO BE A AM
O, BUT AS LONG AS A WRITER
KIND OF FIXES HIS SIGHTS ON
WHO THOSE READERS ARE, YOU
JUST HAVE TO HOPE THAT THAT
NUMBER DOESN'T JUST KEEP
DIMINISHING TO THE POINT OF
NO RETURNS.

Sandra says I THINK THERE ARE A FEW
OTHER THINGS GOING ON, I
AGREE WITH YOU.
FIRST OF ALL HE WAS, I THINK
HALFWAY THROUGH WRITING “THE
CORRECTIONS” AND HE WAS VERY
BLOCKED.
THIS IS A GUY WRITING OUT OF
A LOT OF ANGST.
IT ALSO, AS BRONWYN SAID,
THE MID '90s, JUST AFTER THE
PEAK OF POLITICAL
CORRECTNESS AND IDENTITY
POLITICS AND A LOT OF
CRAZINESS GOING ON, AND I
THINK HE, AS A WHITE MALE
TRYING TO WRITE THE
HOMOGENEOUS SOCIAL NOVEL,
YOU KNOW, WAS FEELING A
LITTLE THREATENED BY ALL
THESE OTHER THINGS THAT WERE
GOING ON IN SOCIETY.
ALL OF THAT HAS CHANGED AND
HE HAS WRITTEN THIS HUGE
SOCIAL NOVEL CALLED “THE
CORRECTIONS” WHICH I THINK
IS BOTH A HIGH AND A LOW
SUCCESS, IT IS BOTH HIGH ART
AND COMMERCIALLY SUCCESSFUL.
BUT WHAT HE WAS DOING WAS HE
FINALLY WORKED HIS WAY
THROUGH HIS ANGST AND
IDENTIFIED, AS YOU SAY, THE
WRITERS AND THE READERS.
I SAW WHAT HE WAS AS A
WRITER AND WHAT A READER IS
AND THAT COMMUNITY IS THERE.
AND I DON'T THINK THAT
COMMUNITY IS GOING TO CHANGE
NO MATTER WHAT THE
TECHNOLOGICAL GIZMOS ARE.
I MEAN ARE YOU STILL GOING
TO BE A READER.

Bronwyn says I KNOW WE ARE, ALL OF US,
BUT THE THREE OF US ARE THE
ONES WHO ARE KIND OF
PROPPING UP THE ENTIRE BOOK
INDUSTRY AT THIS POINT.

Sandra says I DON'T THINK SO.

Bronwyn says I WORRY A LITTLE BIT
ABOUT THE SAY 25 AND UNDER
CROWD, YOU KNOW, WHO DON'T
SEEM TO BE READING.
AND --

Sandra says A LOT OF THEM ARE.

Bronwyn says AND THE RESEARCH THAT HAS
BEEN DONE ON READING IN THE
STATES, HE QUOTES SOME OF IT,
SHOWS YOU REALLY HAVE TO GET
THIS STUFF PLUGGED IN FROM A
VERY EARLY AGE OR ARE YOU
NOT GOING TO BE DOING IT
WHEN YOU ARE IN YOUR 20s,
30s AND 40s.

Tina says IT IS SUCH A BURDEN
TO CARRY BUT WE WILL CARRY
IT THANK YOU VERY MUCH
BRONWYN AND SANDRA FOR
COMING IN.

Bronwyn says THANK YOU.

Sandra says THANK YOU, TINA.

Now an animated book on a piano opens up and reveals a clip of P.J. O’Rourke giving a lecture, followed by an image of Sue Miller’s novel.

Tina says UP NEXT, AMERICAN
HUMOUR WITH PJ O'ROURKE.
AND LATER “THE WORLD BELOW.”
THE LATEST NOVEL BY SUE MILLER.
AMERICAN WRITER PJ O'ROURKE
IS FAMOUS FOR HIS CAUSTIC
WIT AND TRADEMARK CONSERVATISM.
BUT FANS OF ALL POLITICAL
STRIPES TURNEDDED OUT IN
TORONTO TO SEE THE WRITER
READ FROM HIS LATEST BOOK.
IN “THE CEO OF THE SOFA.”

A picture of the book appears briefly on screen. The cover features a picture of P.J. O’Rourke sitting on a couch as he drinks a cocktail and watches TV. A girl about four plays on the floor nearby.

Tina continues THE GLOVES ARE OFF AND OT
VEN HITS ARE ON AS HE
MEDITATES FROM A YEAR AT
HOME, FROM DIAPERS TO DISH
WASHING TO CELL PHONES IS
INCLUDED IN THIS SENDUP OF
DOMESTIC LIFE IN AMERICA.

Now a clip plays of P.J. O’Rourke giving a lecture in a university classroom.
He’s in his late forties, clean-shaven, with medium-length straight brown hair.
He’s wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and red checked tie.

He says MY TIMING FOR DOING A
BOOK OF LIGHTER, WARMER,
LESS POLITICAL HUMOUR,
PERHAPS THE FIRST BOOK I'VE
EVER WRITTEN IN WHICH I
DIDN'T RANT EXTENSIVELY AT
FOREIGNERS, MY TIMING WAS
VERY BAD.
A MOMENT FOR RANTING AT
FOREIGNERS IF EVER THERE WAS ONE.

Later, a woman in her early thirties says
I ADORE THE MAN, YOU KNOW,
I THIS WHAT HE HAS TO SAY IS
CHARMING, ALWAYS.
AND I MIGHT NOT ALWAYS AGREE
WITH HIS POLITICAL SLANT BUT
I RESPECT IT VERY MUCH.

Now P.J. appears in an interview.

A caption reads “P.J. O’Rourke. The C.E.O. of the Sofa.”

P.J. says I THINK ONCE ONE GETS
INTO ONE'S MIDDLE 30s, THE
MOCKING OF EVERYTHING IS
ESSENTIALLY THE -- SOMETHING
THAT YOUNG PEOPLE DO BEST
WHEN THEY DON'T REALLY HAVE
MUCH RESPONSIBILITY.
AND SO THEY MOCK THE
GROWN-UP WORLD.
THEY STAND OUT IN THE NOWER
BED AND MAKE FACES WHILE THE
GROUP UPS ARE AT DINNER.
BUT IF YOU CATCH YOURSELF AT
AGE 35 OR 40 OR SO AN ARE
YOU NOT IN THERE HAVING
DINNER AND STILL OUT IN THE
FLOWER BED WITH ALL THE
SHORT PEOPLE MAKING FACES AT
THE WINDOW, YOU KNOW,
SOMETHING IS -- DUSH KNOW,
YOU SHOULD BE IN THERE
MAKING A FOOL OF YOURSELF
RATHER THAN MAKING A FOOL OF OTHERS.

Back in his lecture, he says THE OTHER DAY OUR
DAUGHTER MUFFIN ANNOUNCED “I
WANT A CELL PHONE” YOU ARE
THREE SAID MY WIFE.
BUT I LOVE THEM “ASK YOUR
FATHER” SAID MY WIFE “I LOVE
THEM TOO, MUFFIN.
DADDY LOVES CELL PHONES
BECAUSE DADDY DOESN'T IS
CELL PHONE.
THAT IS BECAUSE DADDY CAN'T
SEE THE TINY NUMBERS ON THE
BUTTONS WITHOUT HIS READING
GLASSES AND DADDY DOESN'T
HAVE HIS READING GLASSES
BECAUSE HE LEFT THEM ON THE
SHELF UNDER THE GRAND
CENTRAL STATION PAY PHONE
WHICH DADDY WAS USING TO
CALL YOU BECAUSE DADDY
DOESN'T HAVE A CELL PHONE.”

A man in his twenties says
HE'S HILARIOUS, ONE OF THE
FUNNIEST WRITERS, HE HAS
TONED DOWN A LITTLE BIT, A
LITTLE MORE SERIOUS BUT YOU
GO BACK TO “HOLIDAYS” AND HE
IS JUST, I MEAN YOU LAUGH
OUT LOUD IF ARE YOU READING
HIS BOOKS ON THE SUBWAY.

In his interview, P.J. says
HUMOUR, OR YOU KNOW,
BEING FUNNY TO USE THE
BROADEST POP CONSTRUCTION IS
A TOOL.
IT'S A LITERARY TOOL.
YOU WOULDN'T USE IT IN EVERY
CIRCUMSTANCES.
IT WOULDN'T BE APPROPRIATE.

Back in the lecture, he says
AND THAT IS WHAT DADDY
LOVES ABOUT CELL PHONES.
NOT HAVING ONE.

In his interview, he says
YOU WOULDN'T DEAL WITH
THE GRIEVE ABOUT SOMETHING
IN THE WAKE OF THE TRADE
TOWER ATTACKS.
HUMOROUS APPROACH.
IT JUST WOULDN'T BE A USEFUL
TOOL AT THIS PARTICULAR
MOMENT.
TO GO AFTER AS A WAY OF
MOCKING THE PEOPLE THAT DID
IT, OH, THAT IS ANOTHER
MATTER, YOU KNOW.
BUT OR EVEN IT DOESN'T TAKE
VERY LONG BEFORE, YOU KNOW,
CERTAIN JOKES START TO COME
TO MIND, YOU KNOW.
AND ARE YOU LIKE, WHEN YOU
SAW IN THE WAKE OF THESE
ATTACKS AND YOU SAW
“SURVIVOR” COME ON, WAIT A
MINUTE, YOU KNOW.
5,000 PEOPLE JUST GOT VOTED
OFF THE ISLAND OF MANHATTAN,
YOU KNOW, AND ARE YOU OVER
HERE, EATING SNAKES.
I MEAN, WE ARE NOT WITH YOU
HERE, YOU KNOW.

A woman in her thirties says
HE HAS GOT A GREAT MIND.
HE'S A GOOD THIRD, YOU KNOW,
A SOUL I HAD THINKER.
I'M NOT MUCH OF A RIGHT WING
NUT MYSELF BUT I DON'T THINK
HE'S MUCH OF A RIGHT WING
GUY EITHER.
I THINK IT'S -- HE IS AN
IRONIC HUMOURIST.

Back in the lecture, P.J. says
AND ALL THOSE PEOPLE
TALKING ON THEIR CELL PHONES,
TOO WHOM ARE THEY TALKING.
I MEAN MEN ARE FAMOUSLY
UNABLE TO COMMUNE CAN.
WOMEN ARE ALWAYS ON THE
OTHER LINE.
PARENTS DON'T TALK TO KIDS
THESE DAYS.
KIDS SAY “HUH” AND “WHAT'S UP?
YOU CAN'T CALL PEOPLE AT
WORK ANY MORE BECAUSE NOBODY
COMES INTO THE OFFICE.
AND IF YOU TRY THEIR CELL
PHONE YOU GET NO SERVICE.
SO --

In his interview, he says
OF COURSE, YOU KNOW, ONE
HAS ALL SORTS OF THINGS THAT
ONE WOULD NEVER DO AGAIN.
ENDLESS LIST.
BUT NOT FIT TO BE EXPRESSED
IN PUBLIC.

A man in his late sixties says
WELL, I LIKE O'ROURKE, ACTUALLY.
I'M NOT A CONSERVE TIFERX HE
IS BUT HE IS ONE OF THOSE
FEW RARE THAT ARE WITTY AN
CONFORM DIFFICULT
CONSERVATIVE WITH STRONG
BELIEFS WHICH HE PUTS ACROSS
VERY WELL WITH A GOOD SENSE
OF HUMOUR.

Back in the interview, P.J. says
THE GREAT THING ABOUT
HAVING CHILDREN LATE IN LIFE
IS THAT I SHOULD BE SAFELY
OFF INTO THE ALZHEIMER'S
WARD BY THE TIME SHE BEGINS
TO DEVELOP ACTUAL OPINIONS.
SO I'M NOT WORRIED.

Now Tina says THE CEO OF THE SOFA,
BY PJ O'ROURKE IS PUBLISHED
BY ATLANTIC MONTHLY PRESS.
THE AMERICAN WRITER
SUE MILLER FOUND HER THEMES
EARLY ON AND HAS STAYED WITH THEM.
MARRIAGE, FAMILY, MOTHER
HOOD, THESE ARE THE SUBJECTS
MILLER EXAMINES IN ALL HER
BOOKS FROM “THE GOOD MOTHER.”
AN INSTANT HIT IN THE 80
EASE TO HER LATEST NOVEL
“THE WORLD BELOW”

Both books appear on screen briefly.

Tina continues
IT IS THE
STORY OF CATH, TWICE
DIVORCED AND THE MOTHER OF
GROWN children IT'S ALSO
THE STORY OF CATH'S
GRANDMOTHER, GEORGIA, OF THE
LINKS BETWEEN THE TWO WOMEN,
AND OF THE BURIED MEMORIES
THAT EXIST WITHIN FAMILIES.

A clip plays of Tina interviewing Sue.
Sue is in her early forties, with short curly blond hair. She’s wearing a black blazer over a black shirt.

Tina says SUE MILLER, WELCOME TO “IMPRINT.”

Sue says THANKS SO MUCH, LOVELY TO
BE HERE.

Tina says THE TITLE OF YOUR
BOOK “THE WORLD BELOW” GIVES
US A HINT AT WHAT YOU ARE
EXAMINING, YOU ARE LOOKING
AT WHAT LIES BELOW THE
SURFACE.
WHAT DID YOU SET OUT TO
EXPLORE.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO LOOK
AT.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Sue Miller. The World Below."

Sue says I WANTED TO STORE OF --
IS OF CONTRAST TWO WAYS OF
SORT OF LIVING A LIFE, TWO
WAYS OF CONSTRUCTING A
SELVES, AS IT WERE, I GUESS.
AND SO ONE OF WHICH I
THOUGHT OF AS A LIFE IN
WHICH THE SELF WAS PUSHED
UNDER, SUB MERCKED --
SUBMERGED FOR THE SAKE OF
SIMPLY MOVING ON.
SO I LOOKED AT AND CREATED
AND THEN LOOKED AT, I GUESS,
IN THAT ORDER A CHARACTER
WHO WAS BORN IN 1900.
AND WHOSE LIFE IS NOT
ATYPICAL OF THAT PERIOD BUT
THERE IS SOME PRIVATION,
THERE ARE SOME DIFFICULTIES
AND HER WAY OF APPROACHING
THOSE DIFFICULTIES IS THAT
SORT OF SUBMERICAL OF SELF.
AND SORT OF NOT ALLOWING
SORROW OR TRAGEDY TO
INTERRUPT THE SORT OF NEED
TO GO ON.
I ALSO WAS INTERESTED IN THE
WAY IN WHICH HER LIFE AND
THE LIFE, THE LIFE OF THIS
WOMAN BORN IN 1900, AND THEN
THE LIFE OF HER DAUGHTER
SORT OF RUN UNDER AND COME
UP INTO THE LIFE A
GRANDDAUGHTER WHO IS
ACTUALLY PARTIALLY THE
NARRATOR OF THIS BOOK.

Tina says NOW CATH THE
NARRATOR AND HER GRANDMOTHER
IS GEORGIA, CATH GOES BACK
AND -- TO VERMONT AND LIVES
IN THE HOUSE THAT HER
GRANDMOTHER LIVED IN.
WHAT IS SHE AFTER HERE?
WHAT IS SHE TRYING TO DO, DO
YOU THINK?

Sue says WELL, SHE IS AT A CERTAIN
STAGE IN HER OWN LIFE WHERE
SHE FEELS SORT OF CUT LOOSE
FROM T I GUESS.
AND SHE'S BEEN DIVORCED FOR
THE SECOND TIME.
HER KIDS ARE REALLY GROWN
AND SCATTERED.
SHE HAS ONE DAUGHTER WHO IS
LIVING NEAR HER IN SAN
FRANCISCO BUT WHOSE'S
MARRIED.
AND SHE'S BEEN WORKING AT
THE SAME JOB WHICH ISN'T A
JOB SHE FEELS ENORMOUSLY
COMPELLED BY.
IT IS A JOB SHE TAKES
PLEASURE FROM SHE'S A
TEACHER.
AND WHEN THIS HOUSE DESCENDS
UPON HER, WHICH IT DOES, SHE
SUDDENLY INHERITS T AND SHE
REMEMBERS IT VERY FONDLY,
IT'S WHERE SHE PARTIALLY
GREW UP.
BECAUSE HER GRANDMOTHER TOOK
CARE OF HER WHEN HER OWN
MOTHER DIED FOR SOME YEARS
IN HIGH SCHOOL.
SHE THINKS SHE WILL JUST TRY
IT.
SHE WILL GO AND SORT OF SEE
WHAT IT BRINGS INTO HER LIFE
AND SEE WHETHER IN SOME WAY
IT CAN OFFER HER AN
ALTERNATIVE LIFE.

Tina says SHE HAS A VERY
IDEALIZED VERSION, THOUGH,
OF -- WELL, AS MANY OF US DO
ABOUT HER CHILDHOOD, I WAS
GOING TO SAY, WHO DOESN'T.
BUT ALSO OF THE RELATIONSHIP
THAT HER GRANDPARENTS HAD.
AND THERE IS A WONDERFUL
SCENE IN YOUR BOOK WHERE SHE
DESCRIBES HER GRANDPARENTS
FOLDING LAUNDRY, RUSHING TO
GET THE LAUNDRY IN BEFORE A
STORM BREAKS.
I WONDER IF YOU COULD READ
THAT SCENE FOR US BECAUSE IT
IS SUCH A BEAUTIFUL ONE.

Sue says IT OCCURS WHEN SHE DOES
GO TO LIVE WITH THEM AFTER
HER MOTHER HAS DIED.

She puts on a pair of glasses and reads from the book.

She reads
THEY WORKED TOGETHER QUICKLY
WITH PRACTICED SKILL, BOTH
HOLDING A SHEET, FOLDING IT,
WALKING TOWARD EACH OTHER,
AWAY, THEN IN AGAIN.
THE BIG WHITE BELLING CLOTH
FIRST HALVED THEN QUARTERS
AND CALMER, IN DID APPEARING
TO A EXACT BUNDLE BETWEEN THEM.
THEY FINISHED, THEY MOVED
OFF STAGE, JUST BEFORE THE
SKY RIPPED OPEN WITH
LIGHTNING AND THUNDER NEARLY
SIMULTANEOUSLY.
AND THE PELTING OF THE FAT
DROPS BEGAN TO ACCUMULATE TO
A DULL ROAR ON THE ROOF
ABOVE ME.
BUT I HAD SEEN IT, THEIR
QUICK MIRRORING DANCE, THE
ARMS LIFTING AT THE SAME
TIME AS THEY APPROACHES EACH
OTHER, LOWERING AS THEY
STEPPED BACK, THE MAGIC OF
THE WILD WHITE CLOTH GROWING
SMALLER AND SMALLER BETWEEN
THEM ON THE DARK GRASS.
AND WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE TO
ME FROM MY LONELY PERCH
ABOVE THEM WAS THE PUREST
FORM OF LOVE.

Tina says NOW, THIS QUESTION
OF THE PUREST FORM OF LOVE,
SURFACES IN THIS BOOK AS
WELL.
BECAUSE ALL IS NOT WHAT IT
SEEMS.

Sue says YEAH, A LOT OF THIS BOOK
IS SORT OF THE SLOW
DISCOVERY ABOUT WHAT LIES
UNDERNEATH AGAIN.
THE MARRIAGE THAT CATH SO
IDENTIFIED AND THAT SHE
GOES ON, HAS GONE ON
IDEALIZING INTO HER ADULT
LIFE, HER LIFE AS SHE PUTS
IT IS FULL OF SORDID
COMPLICATIONS.
AND SHE HAS GONE ON SEEING
HER GRANDPARENTS IN THIS WAY
AND THE WAY SHE SAW THEM AT
THAT MOMENT.

Tina says THERE IS A KIND OF
ENDLESS QUESTIONING WITH
VERY FEW ANSWERS AROUND
MARRIAGE.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT MARRIAGE
THAT MAKES US SO FASCINATED
BY IT, DO YOU THINK, THAT IT
KEEPS US SO INTERESTED.

Sue says WELL, I THINK ONE THING
CLEARLY ABOUT IT IS THAT IT
IS CHANGING AS AN
INSTITUTION RIGHT NOW AND
HAS CHANGED SO ENORMOUSLY.
AND SO WE ARE MUCH FREER TO
LEAVE IT, I MEAN IT'S SORT
OF BOUNDARIES ARE MUCH LESS
CLEAR THAN THEY ONCE WERE.
AND I THINK WHEN
INSTITUTIONS CHANGE THEY
BECOME OF INTEREST.
I MEAN EVERYONE HAS TO SORT
OF MAKE OF AN INSTITUTION
WHICH IS SHIFTING AND
CHANGING CONSTANTLY WHAT HE
WILL, WHAT SHE WILL.
AND THAT MEANS DENYING IT
FOR YOURSELF IN A WAY.
AND THIS THAT MAKES IT A
COMPELLING TOPIC FOR
FICTION.
BUT I THINK IT ALSO IS A WAY
IN WHICH PEOPLE ARE VERY
DEEPLY EXPOSED.
IN WHICH YOU CAN SORT OF GET
AT WHAT'S MOST TRUE ABOUT A
PERSON SOMETIMES,
FICTIONALLY, ANYWAY, NOT
NECESSARILY IN LIFE BUT
PEOPLE ARE VERY EXPOSED TO
EACH OTHER IN MARRIAGE.
THEY, AND THEIR WEAKNESSES
THEY ARE EXPOSED TO
THEMSELVES IN MARRIAGE I
THINK ALSO, THEIR WEAKNESSES
AND THEIR STRENGTHS, THEIR
VUL NEVER ABILITIES, THEIR
SEXUALITY, OBVIOUSLY.
ALL OF THESE THINGS WHICH
ARE OF TREMENDOUS INTEREST
TO THE PURIENT WRITER OF
FICTION ARE THERE TO BE
EXAMINED IN A SITUATION, A
LOVE SITUATION BETWEEN TWO
PEOPLE, A SITUATION OF
INTENSE EMOTION BETWEEN TWO
PEOPLE OR INTENSE HATRED OR
WHATEVER OCCURS IN A
MARRIAGE.
BUT I THINK THE KIND OF --
THE SORT OF SENSE OF FOCUSED
EMOTIONALITY IS WHAT IS
FASCINATING TO A WRITER
ABOUT IT.

Tina says YEAH, THERE IS A
WONDERFUL WORLD THAT YOU
GIVE US, I WON'T CALL IT A
WORLD BELOW BUT I WILL CALL
IT A WORLD APART AND IT IS
GEORGE'S TIME AT THE
SANATORIUM, SHE GETS
TUBERCULOSIS AS MANY PEOPLE
DID AT THAT TIME AND GOES
OFF TO WHAT SHE CALLS THE
SAN.
AND IT IS A FASCINATING
WORLD BECAUSE I THINK YOU
SAY THE PEOPLE THERE HAVE A
GREEDINESS FOR LIFE THAT IS
EXTRAORDINARY.

Sue says I DID A LOT OF READING IN
ORDER TO WRITE THAT PART OF
THE BOOK.
AND IT S AS YOU SAY, A
FASCINATING WORLD.
AND IN AMERICA IT WAS VERY
DIFFERENT FROM THE WORLD OF
THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN, LET'S SAY.
THE SORT OF DEMOCRACY OF THE
AMERICAN SAN WAS QUITE
DIFFERENT.
BUT PEOPLE FROM ALL PARTS OF
SORT OF LIFE CAME TO SANS.
AND THERE WAS A SENSE OF
BEING DOOMED I THINK.
A SENSE URGENCY ON THAT
ACCOUNT.
THEY WERE OFTEN REQUEST
PEOPLE.
AND SO THERE WAS A SENSE OF
AN INCREDIBLE INTENSITY
ABOUT THEIR TIME SPENT
TOGETHER.
FOR SOME PEOPLE IT WAS
SIMPLY AWFUL.
THEY HAD CHILDREN OR SPOUSES
AND THEY WERE SEPARATED FROM
THEM.
PEOPLE WEREN'T SURE IF THEY
WOULD LIVE, IF THEY WOULD
SURVIVE.
BUT FOR SOME PEOPLE IT WAS
TREMENDOUSLY THRILLING AND
EXCITING.
AND A KIND OF OPENING OF THE
UNIVERSE TO THEM.
AND IT FUNCTIONED IN THAT
WAY TO SOME DEGREE FOR
GEORGIA IN THIS BOOK.
SOMEONE WHO HAD COME FROM
JUST A VERY TINY VILLAGE IN
MAINE WHO HAD REALLY NEVER
READ BOOKS TO SPEAK OF OR
HEARD MUSIC.
AND FOR WHOM A WHOLE WORLD
OF CULTURE REALLY, AND
EXCITEMENT AND CERTAINLY A
SORT OF VERY HE ROTICALLY
CHARGED WORLD OPENED TO HER
IN THIS SANATORIUM THAT SHE
WENT TO.

Tina says AND ANOTHER TOPIC
THAT YOU HAVE CERTAINLY
TAKEN ON IN OTHER BOOKS IS
MOTHERHOOD.
NOT SOME OF MOTHERHOOD,
OBVIOUSLY THE GOOD MOTHER.
BUT WHAT WITHIN CRITIC
CALLED AND I LOVE THIS
EXPRESSION, THE DANGEROUS
INTERSECTION OF THE
MOTHERHOOD AND DESIRE, THERE
IS A SENSE THAT THE MOTHER
IS A DIVIDED PERSON, THAT,
YOU KNOW, CATH'S OWN
DAUGHTER HAS A BABY IN THIS.
AND CATH AT ONE POINT SAYS
OH, NOW COMES THE START OF
HER DIVIDED LIFE.

Sue says YEAH, I THINK THE SORT OF
SENSE THAT ONE HAS AS A
MOTHER OF ALWAYS ONE'S
ATTENTION ALWAYS BEING AT
LEAST PARTIALLY ON THE CHILD,
ON WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH
THE CHILD AND SO FORTH.
SO THAT YOU DON'T LIVE SORT
OF WHERE YOU ARE ALL THE
TIME ANY MORE.
INSTEAD YOU ARE VERY
CONSCIOUS OF THIS OTHER
BEING ALWAYS.

Tina says IS IT A DANGEROUS
INTERSECTION, MOTHERHOOD AND
DESIRE.

Sue says YOU KNOW, IT CERTAINLY
WAS IN THE FIRST BOOK THAT I
WROTE IN THE SENSE THAT IT
WAS THROUGH HER SEXUAL LIFE
THAT THE MOTHER IN THAT BOOK
BECAME VULNERABLE TO CHARGES
OF INCOMPETENT AND SO FORTH.
AND I THINK IT'S -- PEOPLE
DON'T LIKE TO THINK OF THEM
SIMULTANEOUSLY.
I THINK AMERICAN CULTURE AT
ANY RATE, YOU KNOW, LIKES TO
SEE MOTHERHOOD AS QUITE
SEPARATE FROM SEXUALITY.
AND THE IDEA OF SORT OF SOME
COMBINATION OF THOSE TWO IS
NOT A COMFORTABLE ONE FOR I
THINK CULTURALLY FOR A LOT
OF PEOPLE.

Tina says WHERE DO YOU SEE
THIS BOOK AS FITTING IN WITH
THE BODY OF YOUR WORK.
DO YOU THINK THAT ARE YOU
CONCERNED ALWAYS WITH THE
SAME THEMES.

Sue says I'M AFRAID I'VE HAD TO
CONFRONT THE FACT THAT I
PROBABLY M I THINK WHEN YOU
START WRITING YOU GONLT
THINK OF YOURSELF AS
CATEGORIZEABLE.
YOU DON'T THINK OF YOURSELF
AS PREOCCUPIED, YOU JUST
WRITE WHAT YOU FEEL LIKE
WRITING.
AN THEN SLOWLY PEOPLE SAY
OH, HERE SHE COMES DOING
THAT AGAIN.
THIS IS THE FIRST BOOK THAT,
IN WHICH I'M REALLY TRYING
TO TALK A LITTLE BIT, I
THINK, ABOUT THE WAY TIME
HAS CHANGED BOTH THE WAY
PEOPLE THINK ABOUT THEMSELVE,
IN THEIR LIVES AND THE WAY
PEOPLE THINK AND DEAL WITH
MARRIAGE.
SO I, YOU KNOW, I FEEL AS
THOUGH IN THAT SENSE IT'S
DIFFERENT FROM THE EARLIER
BOOKS.
AND THAT WAS VERY CONSCIOUS
AN ATTEMPT TO USE TIME
DIFFERENTLY.
BUT I THINK THAT THERE IS A
KIND OF CLEARLY A
PREOCCUPATION WITH THE WAY
PEOPLE CONNECT WITH EACH
OTHER, WITH WHAT THEY ARE
ABLE TO DO THERE TERMS OF
INTIMACY OR NOT ABLE TO DO
IN TERMS OF INTIMACY AND
WHAT THAT MEANS ABOUT THEIR
LIVES.
HOW THAT KIND OF GETS PASSED
ON, INHERITED.
HOW THE SELF IS SHAPED AND
FORMED IN MODERN LIFE IN
TERMS OF RELATIONS WITH
OTHER PEOPLE.

Tina says THEY ARE BIG TOPICS.

Sue says FOR ME.

Tina says AND WORTH WRITING
ABOUT AND YOU DO IT
BRILLIANTLY, THANK YOU SO
MUCH FOR TALKING TO US.

Sue says THANK YOU.

In the studio, Tina continues
“The World Below” BY SUE
MILLER IS PUBLISHED BY KNOPF.
THAT IS OUR SHOW
FOR TONIGHT.
FOR READING LISTS AND
INFORMATION ABOUT AUTHORS
WHO WILL BE APPEAR ON FUTURE
PROGRAMS, CHECK OUT OUR WEB
SITE, THE ADDRESS IS COMING UP.

Theme music plays as the end credits roll.

Special thanks to Grano. University of Toronto Bookstore Reading Series.

Imprint. C/O TVOntario. P.O. Box 200. Station Q, Toronto, Ontario. M4T 2T1.

Fax: 416-484-2780.

E-mail: imprint@tvo.org.

Website: www.tvo.org/imprint

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 2002, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Imprint season 13 episode 18