1 Episode results for "Hillary Rodham Graduates College"

Curtis Sittenfeld

Monocle 24: Meet the Writers

29:06 min | 4 months ago

Curtis Sittenfeld

"This is the Writers Georgina. Godwin I guess. Today is the author of the Sunday Times Bestseller American wife in which she painted a picture of an ordinary American girl a thinly disguised Laura Bush who found herself married to a president. It was long listed for the Orange Prize. As was her debut novel. Prep her other books. Include the man of my dreams sustained eligible and the acclaimed short story collection. You think it I'll say it. Her stories of appeared in the New Yorker Esquire Oprah magazine and The New York Times magazine her latest collection of stories to be published in the UK is help yourself. She's also the guest editor for the Twenty Twenty Best American short stories anthology. She lives with her family in the American Midwest. A brand new novel is rotten. And it's been described as bombshell while I couldn't agree more. This is a book that will demand. Attention Curtis Sitton fell. Welcome to meet the rices. Thank you for having me. You'll novel begins in one thousand nine hundred thousand nine. Is Hillary Rodham Graduates College? And it brings us right up-to-date in Contemporary America. But I'd like to go back to Cincinnati in one thousand nine hundred seventy five when when you were can you tell us about the second stance surrounding you alive? Oh my goodness it's funny. I'm so much in the habit of of talking about Hillary's lay right now. You'll warm familiar with that than with my own will. I'm the second of four children. I have a sister. Who's less than two years older than I am. And I would say a have not led a very personally dramatic life which might be why I'm a fiction writer instead of a memoir rest but yeah I grew up in Cincinnati. My parents are both retired but still live in Cincinnati and I have two sisters one brother my brother is actually holds elected office in Cincinnati. He's the he's a member of the city council in his third term. So so I guess. Different members of my family are interested in in politics in in different ways but I was very lucky to go to excellent schools in Cincinnati elsewhere. And I would say my family Sort of obsessive readers like we didn't it's not like we. All six sat around each of US feverishly reading a book of our own but there were lots of books in the House. We did sometimes read is a family. My mother was a librarian for a long time for you know middle school or junior high students so ages twelve and thirteen and fourteen and that strong feminist streak. That comes to your writing that being influenced by her. That's an interesting question. My parents have almost opposite personalities. From each other where. My father is very great Gary in very opinionated and my mother is you know I think she has strong opinions and viewpoints. But she's. She's not a very assertive per cent. And she's not she's not she's a very private person even even by saying this should not be. I think she'd rather that like I never talk about her. Other than you know maybe acknowledging that she exists described as relatively progressive. But you know I think there are some families where the children grow up going to protest rallies in that was not my family You'll schooling was obviously a hugely influential. In fact your first book prep which is I. Think long list for the Orange Prize loosely based on that. Would you say so? I went to a boarding school in Massachusetts. When I was I had just turned fourteen and it was sort of strange given you know the area of the country where I grew up. Which is the mid west and it was a little bit unusual to go to a sort of fancier elite boarding school on the east coast just in the sense that a lot of students who go to that school are more from that region and also the other thing is that. I was the only one of my siblings who went which I think sometimes makes people think that I must have been the most academically talented in fact. I was the least academically and by my siblings. Were all you know much more. Well rounded students like. I did well in English but I definitely struggled with other subjects so those a little bit. I feel like I certainly. It was privileged but it was also a little bit random or arbitrary that I went to boarding school and talking about coming from a different at least geographical background from the rest of the students. The story is sort of more than coming of age. It's it's more perhaps one could say it was about a study of of social class. Was that something that you found was very apparent there that it did feel different. This whole kind of I mean I think the thing that we all have this horror of being a teenager comes across in dairy well a particular field and that you didn't fit in that. I think I felt at times that I didn't fit in. Certainly I mean I would say that. It wasn't the main character in prep. Leave your experiences going to boarding school as more of a sort of class shock than I would say I did. And you know class is sort of the air. We all breathe. It's maybe especially obvious. Una Boarding School campus. But you know I think it's it's obvious everywhere you know. You can have a sort of exchange with a person like delivering a package to your house and the two of you could probably like assess each other's voices are accents and no things about each other's class or like defied that one of you is in a house receiving a package one of US delivering. The package also says things about class in our society. You know doesn't necessarily say very good things but I think the To like one yet like I was aware of class. And I don't think I was quite as much of a fish out of water as my protagonist. Although certainly I'm like erotic person was even more neurotic as a teenage you write about teenagehood again in in your next book. And I think we'll come back to that because it will say impacts on on the subject matter of Rodham but you went off to Stanford then and you studied creative writing night. You wrote the College newspaper. You registered magazine. What's being a writer? Always the the obvious career choice. Well I think writing was always really important to me and it was like from a very young age for about six or seven. I spent a lot of time reading and writing because I wanted to. I think it helped me make sense of the world and it held my attention and there weren't as many options on net. Netflix back. Then so entertain yourself a little more so definitely writing always played a huge role in my life. I don't think I grew up with the expectation that I would be a full time novelist. I think sometimes I thought I won't be a lawyer or as I got older. I thought you know maybe a social worker or an English teacher or something. I always the closer my adulthood. I think the more it seems like I would do something writing adjacent. But I just don't think anyone can count on being a fulltime writer as you know how they pay their mortgage and I mean going to someone as you did to study at the Iowa. Writer's workshop is no guarantee of coming out. The other end is a fully-fledged writer. But that does give you a better chance than most doesn't it's a huge success rate. It's a it's a wonderful program and I like I loved being there. I learned a ton but the the thing that people don't necessarily realize is not only. Can you go to an excellent writing program the Iraqis and after that you know not have a stable writing career you can be a writer who has had multiple books published in that. Still not the way. You're supporting yourself. And in fact new writing is my full time job. But that's that's an incredible privilege and it's not. It's not something I take for granted. It's very I know that it's very unusual on special. I feel grateful. Tell me about being a published I so we talked about prep which was debut novel and that did incredibly. Well I mean one. All sorts of awards at least was shortlisted and then man of my jeans as we just briefly alluded to also about a confused fourteen year. Old those tip books off the back of each other. Okay so I'm not as confused about how candid to be about this up on the candid. I'm sure no no one will ever know but so I mean I in all honesty Rodman's May seventh buck. There is a part of me that wishes I could strike the man of my dreams from the record or like. I think that it's funny. It's not necessarily for the reason that might. I don't know what reason thing but basically I feel like it has its sentenced by sends. It's fine it has a week overall structure and identity structure like extremely important. You know like it's one of those things that should be invisible to the reader if it's working but a lot of times if a book is unsatisfying because it does not have a strong structure prep came out and it was this surprise bestseller like surprised me the price. My publisher into wasn't like anyone pressured me to write demand medically I had been writing different parts of the man of my dreams before that again thinking like Oh my God lake like the question was almost to me. The question was not what is the wise as next step for my career. But it's like can I get money for my writing and then pay my rent so I think I knew that that book by the time it was published which was not the best book I was capable of right into my life so it away actually learned a really valuable lesson and maybe it didn't need to be published but I feel like now I would never knowingly let a book go into the world that I don't feel my best work like I feel like it's a flawed imperfect book because they all are but I feel like it has to feel unfixable like it's like. Oh yeah there's there's that part that's like doesn't work but like I tried it seven in like that's the best I can do or something but then having said all that is occasionally advantage of Bookstore. Almost like in the happier days when we can all be in bookstores together. A prison will be like buying man of my dreams of almost talk. The person also bad mouth is book and occasionally people will say like. Oh my God. That's my favorite. And I love that one and I'll jokingly like a you're the because it did not sell out but I don't actually want to be respectful of my readers. I think I think that there's a time as a reader. I would've liked up book but again it's just as a whole as a structural hole. I think that you could make very legitimate criticisms of That's a really long answer for as you least favorite. Let's move on swiftly and go on to what I suppose. What's your breakthrough novel? Which is American wife and Alice Blackwell? Chaz shall we say many similarities with with Lower Bush? Yes yes so. American wife is a very fictionalized version of the like Laura Bush and different from Rodham in the names are changed and a lot of the events that in the real lives of George Bush. Laura Bush took place in Texas. Like almost all translated to the state of Wisconsin. But it sort of starts in. Alice's childhood goes up to the White House where she's somewhat surprised to find herself even though she she's married into a very family knows that she's done that but she doesn't think she's married someone who will become president and in a way. Of course this comes. I mean and comes off. The back of this book doesn't mean they're very much related to each other. It's funny because the books will have been published twelve years apart and I think if you had said to me will you write a book? That's like American whites. I guess probably would've like maybe or you know. Will you write about another recognizable famous person in a fictitious? Like it didn't feel like a foregone conclusion that I would or it didn't feel like oh well you know a year past. I better get cracking on that. But I think I I definitely think ended up writing Rodham because there is a specific story. I wanted to tell specific way and not because I felt like like what one famous person should I write about now? Yeah in between the several other things published system which is again completely different about identical twins with psychic powers than eligible which is the retailing of pride and prejudice set in in your hometown and Cincinnati. Then this wonderful collection of short stories you think it. I'll say it and from their coast is the story the nominee now is that the genesis fool who. Rodham so I would say a few things of Genesis Rodham one of which is at short story so in early two thousand sixteen. An editor at Esquire magazine in the United States reached out to me and said because I had written American wife. Would you be interested in writing a short story from the perspective of Hillary Clinton as she's accepting the Democratic nomination for president so it was it know completely someone else's idea it fell into my lap and I fell ambivalent about accepting the assignment and then I kind of out? You know why not. That'd be interesting so I did it. And I had the experience of writing for her point of view and it was. It was actually eye opening to me because I had been invited to write essays about Hillary and I always declined because I so much has been written about her and I don't know that I have anything to add the analysis but writing that short story instead the question the underlying question being you know what do the American people think Hillary the underlying question was. What does Hillary think of the American people and then it turned out? I had a ton to say that says okay so one hit like went through that exercise and then another thing. They really influenced. I'm is because that's short story. Came out in say. He came out in April or May two thousand sixteen. The election was not until November. And I had this realization that school children who knew Hillary existed did not necessarily know that Bill Clinton existed or was Hillary's husband or that he no he had been president and she'd been first lady Whatev- adults viewed Hillary a separate from bill. The way children do and it was a very intriguing to have at the beginning of the book. You quote her autobiography. What happens and you say my marriage to Bill Clinton was the most consequential decision of my life. I said no the first two times he asked me but the third time I said yes and I'd do it again. And of course this examines. What happens if she didn't she didn't say yes. And it's absolutely fascinating. At what point point do you start to diverged from from the reality? And how real how? How toothpaste is is everything that happens. Which is fictional. I felt that you know for there to being meaning or like wait to her. Not marrying him she had to feel very torn and so I had to show them volleying love and like show their whole courtship so the book starts essentially with them meeting at Yale Law School there a couple for four years and then my fictionalized version follows real lights pretty closely. Insofar as events are known I take many creative liberties in in sort of showing intimate scenes. That no one in real life knows about besides two events and all that stuff is fictionalized but from the point that she declines his marriage proposal his third marriage proposal essentially a lot of the public events that happened lake. Clarence Thomas being nominated to be on the Supreme Court. Those are real like her. Hillary's life and her kind of interaction with historical events changes. Because you know she's like Bill Clinton declared that he was running for president in October. Nineteen Ninety one. That's when she she kind of she had sort of. I guess dependent. Who asked you kind of been a public prior to that? But she definitely became sort of household name in Nineteen ninety-one ninety-two That's when it really the time line really shifts. Although I guess you could say there's also a kind of jump over from essentially from nineteen seventy five to nineteen ninety one the nephew flashbacks to those years. But I sort of jump over that when I give her her alternate timeline. Have you met Hillary? I have not met Hillary Hillary. I the same faces her. I have many. I actually have been in the same space or but I have not matter. What about bill again has attempted to event he was there and there? Were maybe three hundred people in the room. I felt like he was talking to me personally. Extrordinary magnetism. That's what everyone says. I have never met him. I I guess technically like a have heard him speak. I mean it wasn't a big auditorium so I don't know his magnetism reached me in that. And you know he's he's an older man now like not. I mean not that older men can't magnetic but I do. I don't think he's at the height of his magnetism but anyway everyone says that he has this. You know sort of singular charisma end and even people who don't WanNa like him in his presence. They sort of melt a little bit but I mean it's clear that she has some kind of charisma to and certainly the way you writer she comes across. Darrow said a lot more likable than perhaps she is in in real life. It's interesting because people come to her with so many preconceived ideas but again I never met her but a lot of people I know who have met her. Say if you're one on one with her. She's an excellent listener. She comes very prepared. She knows all these facts about you. She has warmed. She's funny. I don't know there's there's a lot of sort of images about her agai- perpetuated that I don't necessarily think are grounded in reality or I think that that. It's kind of like claiming into stereotypes. You know like if we say like a school law or something like that and it's like is. Is there a Mayo equivalent for school Marmot? What or Oreo like. She's like as if in a bad way. She's like your grandmother and I don't know like do. Would we say that about a man? Do you think she would have made a good president and she would have made an excellent president. I mean one of the things that I respect about her. I think she's a really hard worker and I think like I think she herself is aware that she's not considered. You know wildly charismatic and has never tried to kind of coast on her charisma. Like I think she's always put in time in terms of like doing research to understand policy or you know working with Republicans like she's she's always gotten very high approval ratings when she holds a job and then her approval ratings. Go down when she's running for office. Which again is sort of an interesting dynamic? Donald trump features in the book again beautifully written just so trump trump and of course avoids the the horror but is reality. What do we do about trump? I wish I I'm self ladder that you think I could possibly and I mean I mean I think. His election has certainly prompted many Americans who didn't think of themselves as being politically active to be more active. Obviously there's there's lots of people who have been sort of saying for many years like the. Us is very racist. In very sexist in we need to elect people who who will fight for more equality and by route middle class working class than other stuff. So I think that there there are some people who feel eight. His election was sort of shocked and then there are other people. Think like know the problems that his election illustrates have been there all along. But I will say I do think that progressives in the United States are more motivated than I think. We have been for a lot of my lifetime you are. You moved to be involved politically aside from writing about it. A tool I do not anticipate running. I don't think you can write books with sex scenes in their run. Verbs actually do Stacey Abrams who came very close to getting elected to be governor of Georgia. And Liz I think the first black woman who was I don't know if it was a gubernatorial candidate but anyway has has written several romance novels. In addition to being very accomplished lawyer and policymaker but anyway I have sort of been like a guest host of a fundraiser for a woman running for office more than once or there was some other writers than I did this. We participated in a sort of fundraiser. Where we all gave signed books to an organization called Emily's list it helps to get pro choice female Democrats elected so I would say in a peripheral way. I'm involved I certainly have gone to protests but I cannot imagine running for office although I will say writing. Rodham made me feel like I understand. How campaigns were in a whole new way. I mean in the nominee. You have a wonderful question. The nominees about Louis relationship with journalists. Or that's part of it under the question is she's fundamentally as a writer. She's a bystander. Instead of the participants can can you be both? I know I mean I. Actually Hillary does have this kind of famously contentious relationship with the media and the strange thing I mean I certainly am fascinated by hillary and have a lot of sympathy. You know I like an respect. Hillary and I respect the media. I think I think journalists holder really important role or like there was a book called. Chasing Hillary by EMI chose an. I use that book a lot for research and it's it's sort of I can see why emmy chose made the choices. She did as a journalist. I can see why Hillary may the choices she did as a candidate and and those choices coexist uneasily or did in the two thousand sixteen campaign as Henry read it. Not My knowledge. Do you What's next few. Wow I have as you mentioned you know. This is actually a very special. Uk publication that. I have this. It's sort of like Amini story collection where it's just three stories so it's like a sort of bite sized little book called. Help Yourself. It's coming out. Believe in December up. So that's kind of fun funding and then I have felt like I would like to write a book. That's late in fizzy and like two hundred pages long and requires no research for me but I don't. I don't know if I'm capable of that catches finally with talking during this lockdown period. How do you find that it if indeed it does affect creativity and concentration? It's hard to argue that is good for concentration and I think a lot of writers I know will say you know it turns out. I've been training for quarantine all my life you know. It's like the Raiders. Many writers who have the choice like don't really leave the house and you know maybe don't the other humans that much so for me like given day in life right now is not shockingly different from my normal is not unusual for me to hardly leave the house but cumulatively like let's say like every ten days or two weeks or something. I have dinner with female friends or my family goes to a restaurant or something like that. Those little things. Certainly you know life feels different Also as I hear myself say that I think like compared to a- ventilator shortage like my family not going to a restaurant is is hardly a tragedy so I. I've been interested in seeing like I think I sort of metabolize world events or experiences slowly more slowly than some people and so I've been impressed when people can kind of quickly process what's happening sort of make it into art and there's a podcast called heavyweight that under normal circumstances there's a hosting Jonathan Goldstein. And he talks about He talked to about sort of like regrets. They have about their pastor. You Know Times. They feel they were wronged wrong someone else. And instead he's now doing like these checking in episodes where he and the producers kind of kind of talk to each other kind of see. What People's Daily lives are like under quarantine in is really like moving elegant artistic feet and I'm very impressed by their ability to do that in real time because again I don't. I don't know what to make of everything that's happening like I feel. I feel very bewildered about the president of future. Yeah 'cause to sit in felt thank you very much. Indeed Rotem by Curtis Infield is published by Random House. You've been listening to meet the writers. Thanks to the production team of Nora Hull Steph. Chengdu and Charlie Film Court. You can download this show and previous episodes from our website or APP from soundcloud mixed cloud or I chains. Georgina Godwin listening.

Hillary Hillary writer president Rodham Cincinnati US Hillary Rodham Graduates Colle Orange Prize Laura Bush Bill Clinton UK Georgina Godwin Hillary Clinton American Midwest editor America Curtis Sitton Sunday Times Bestseller Twenty Twenty