Editor, Hillary Rodham, The New York Times discussed on Weekend Edition Sunday


About that time and if you're the winner we'll give you a call and you will get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and weekend edition's puzzle master will Shortz thanks so much well thanks a young Hillary Rodham madly in love with the man she met at Yale Law School abandons her own path and heads to Arkansas slowly she starts to uncover bill Clinton's many infidelities and makes a choice what would have happened if Hillary Rodham had never married Bill Clinton a new novel by Curtis Sittenfeld imagines it just that and she joins me now to talk about it hello hello your book starts out in a familiar way but then your book takes a very different attacks from the historical timeline what what happens so in real life Bill Clinton proposed to Hillary Rodham twice and she said no both times and then he proposed a third time and she said yes and in my version she says no the third time two and she goes her own way then she initially becomes a law professor and Chicago at northwestern and then she kind of goes on from there and the book follows her over the next forty years I want to ask you before we go much further in this you know so much has been said about Hillary Clinton why did you want to write speculative fiction about her doesn't everyone is in a totally natural impulse and possibly so actually it's funny because I agree with you that so much has been written about Hillary and it was sort of in reaction to that that I think I wrote this book so in the lead up to the two thousand sixteen election I was invited to write essays about Hillary and I would decline because I felt like every possible thing there was to say about Hillary had been said she had been analyzed from every angle and then an editor at esquire magazine invited me to write a short story from Hillary's perspective and I accepted and writing that story was this kind of strange exercise where I realize that the question was not what to the American people think of Hillary Clinton but what does Hillary Clinton think of the American people and it turned out that that I had four hundred pages worth of thought to say on that so it was actually trying to sort of slipped the narrative and and instead of making her the one who's scrutinize lake giving her voice which of course is totally fictionalized voice likes she did not write this book I wrote this book and so she says no to Bill Clinton she becomes as you mention a law professor she then becomes a politician was it inevitable that she'd become a politician how did you come up with this path for her I think that in real life if she had not married Bill Clinton I'm not sure she would have led the life that I created for her in the novel and I think with a novel like this you know that the reader is bringing some opinions or expectations and I as the writer I'm kind of toying with those expectations and sometimes for filling them and sometimes defying them and I felt like it was the most interesting version and to have her enter politics but you know have no pulp click association with Bill Clinton yes except to quite a few meetings along the way I want to ask you about writing Bill Clinton the character because like the real life Bill Clinton your fictionalized bill also has a swirl of sexual misconduct allegations around him and he's also accused of sexual assault so one of the reasons that I love fiction is that I feel like getting knowledge is that people are very complex and that the same person can have very appealing qualities and very troubling qualities and I think that the plan is like the embodiment of that where I would never pretend that I can't understand his his appeal I would never you know sort of say that I can look at him with admiration and you know without feeling any sense of sort of discomfort and so and I think that a novel allows for knowledge in that like this is in an essay that's trying to either celebrate him or take him down they're both the very intertwined in our consciousness are you trying to suggest that we might consider them differently if we had to think of them as individuals yes so actually I think that one of the reasons I wrote this book is that around the time even after the two thousand and sixteen election I had this realization that school children who knew Hillary was running for president often literally didn't know that Bill Clinton existed and that kind of blew my mind where I thought you know what is what if adults saw Hillary as completely separate from dell the way that kids do and you think that that would change fundamentally the way that she's you yes I do I think I mean I'm not I'm not saying that it would sort of solve all the problems of sexism but I think it would make her have an identity much more like that of Elizabeth Warren or any clothes are I wonder if it isn't insulting to suggest that a man held Hillary Clinton back maybe this story and their story is one of a hugely successful partnership that is arguably one of the most successful in American political history it's totally possible that you're right like I'm not even sure it's either or I think it may be though Clinton held her back in some ways and probably helped her and others and the same for I think maybe she held him back in some ways or maybe didn't always do things that were in is personal or professional best interest and then in other ways she was hugely helpful like I don't I don't think it's an either or it's sort of situation for for either of them did your opinion of either bill or Hillary Clinton change after giving them the fictional treatment you know being intimately involved in sort of creating this alternate narrative for them so I was already an admirer of Hilary before I began working on the book if anything I definitely have more admiration for her in terms of toughness her perseverance her hard work there's also there's all these stories I think they are sort of in the public but they don't get that much attention about what a loyal thoughtful friend she is like often over many decades or you know like she's she's very funny which is not really part of her public image so I am fully pro Hillary that's Curtis Sittenfeld her new novel is Rodham thank you very much thank you social distancing may have stopped hundreds of people from packing together in concert venues but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy a little live music like in Los Angeles where Adam Chester lives he's a piano player subbing in for Elton John when his band rehearses even appearing at a tribute to the musician at Madison Square Garden he also plays clubs and gigs as himself but when the crowded bar shut down all of his opportunities to perform he started his own Korean cello outside his house in the LA neighborhood of Sherman oaks and Chester thanks so much for joining us hi thanks so much for having me Lou this is a fun idea where did it come from well it came from not really having much else to do here I don't mean it really was just a bummer not playing anymore and I thought you know wouldn't it be fun to do streaming concert from inside my house there was such a good reception on that I thought once a week let's take it in our front yard you know my wife and kids played the roadies and they drag my keyboard outside with them thirty year old crate amplifier and a microphone and we started it seven weeks ago and I gather you've been raising money for charity how much have you raised so far were at just past seventy five hundred every Saturday we pick a charity that were close to that helps with covert nineteen and people who are have been affected by it so you performed obvious in lots of different venues how does this one outside your own house and in front of your neighbors feel different and tell us what it looks like to the neighbors I mean how many people are attending this the neighbor set out on their yards and listen people were driving here and pulling over and listening from their cars how it differs from anything else I've done is just the immediate satisfaction of knowing that I'm trying to make people feel better and I try to make every show different like last week was mother's day so I did all songs about mothers and it was it was cool so what are some of the songs that you played last night because you play on Saturdays right we played Saturdays at six PM so I did a tribute to a little boy named Andrew who dances the whole time here he's one of the neighbors and I thought wouldn't it be cool if I did the BG song you should be dancing we get the chance it was just a blast well well I wish I could be there that sounds like a lot of fun it really does that's out of Chester who started his own car and cello performing in front of his house in Los Angeles thank you very much thank you this is weekend edition from NPR news I love the Garcia Navarro and it's KQED public radio about housing L. I'm Dancin Hannah here some dance music we're gonna go to traffic.

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