Richard Ford

  • Aired:  06/26/12
  •  | Views: 5,653

Award-winning American novelist Richard Ford shares his inspiration for "Canada," aversion to criticism, and logic behind storing manuscripts in the freezer. (7:26)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> Stephen: WELCOME BACK,

EVERYBODY!

MY GUEST TONIGHT HAS A NEW BOOK TITLEDED "CANADA." I'LL PUT IT ON MICHELLE AND IT

WILL APOLOGIZE TO MY OTHER BOOKS.

PLEASE WELCOME RICHARD FORD.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) MR. FORD, THANKS SO MUCH FOR COMING ON.

>> GOOD TO BE HERE.

>> ALL RIGHT, SIR, LET'S GET OUT WHAT IS QUITE THE IMPRESSIVE RESUME FOR YOU.

>> THERE'S NO NEED TO DO THAT.

>> Stephen: NO, THE AUDIENCE NEEDS TO KNOW WHAT A POWERHOUSE

I'M SITTING ACROSS FROM RIGHT NOW.

YOU ARE A NOVELIST SHORT STORY WRITER BEST KNOWN FOR "THE SPORTS WRITER" AND ITS SEQUELS

"INDEPENDENCE DAY" AND "THE LAY OF THE LAND."

"INDEPENDENCE DAY," THE FIRST NOVEL TO WIN BOTH THE PULITZER AND PENN FAULKNER AWARD.

NOW, I DON'T NORMALLY HAVE NOVELISTS ON BECAUSE I DO NOT LIKE PEOPLE WHO LIE TO ME.

(LAUGHTER) OKAY?

NOVELS AREN'T TRUE, RIGHT?

THEY AREN'T FACTUAL.

>> THAT'S REALLY AN OLD SAW, YOU KNOW, ABOUT NOVELS BEING LIES.

NOVELS ARE MUCH BETTER THAN LIES ACTUALLY.3y+ LIES YOU HAVE TO FINALLY 'FESS

UP TO AT THE END, GET CAUGHT AT.

NOVELS YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO THAT.

NOVEL CANS ACTUALLY ASPIRE TO BE THE TRUTH EVEN.

>> Stephen: WILL W A CAPITAL "T "T"?

>> OR A LITTLE ONE IF YOU LIKE.

>> Stephen: YOU'RE SHOOTING FOR ONE RIGHT NOW WITH YOUR NEW

NOVEL CALLED "CANADA." I AM OFFENDED, SIR.

YOU ARE A GREAT AMERICAN NOVELIST.

WHY IS THIS NOT CALLED "AMERICA"?

(LAUGHTER)

>> WELL, BECAUSE THAT'S NOT WHAT I WANTED TO CALL IT.

TO BE AN AWE OR THAT MEANS YOU GET TO DECIDE EVERYTHING.

THAT'S WHY WHAT I DID.

I WANTED TO CALL IT CANADA.

>> Stephen: IS IT ABOUT CANADA?

>> WELL, IT'S ABOUT A FAMILY WHO LIVES IN GREAT FALLS, MONTANA,

AND THE MOTHER OF THE FATHER OF THE FAMILY, THREE KIDS, ROB A BANK AND THE LITTLE GIRL IN THE

FAMILY WHO'S 15 RUNS AWAY, THE LITTLE BOY GETS TRANSPORTED ACROSS THE BORDER INTO

SASKATCHEWAN WHICH WHICH IS IN CANADA.

(LAUGHTER)

>> I UNDERSTAND, DON'T PATRONIZE ME, SIR.

(LAUGHTER)

>> Stephen: DID SOMETHING DRAW YOU TO CANADA?

>> WELL, I'LL TELL YOU ONE ANECDOTE.

THE YEAR AFTER W WAS ELECTED,

WHICH WAS A DARK DAY.

I KNOW THIS PROBABLY GOES AGAINST YOUR SENSIBILITIES.

>> IT DOES, IT DOES.

>> I DROVE ACROSS THE BOARDER FROM MONTANA WHERE I LIVE TO SASKATCHEWAN AND I FELT THE

WEIGHT OF THE WORLD LIFT OFF OF ME.

I FELT SOMETHING MARVELOUS HAD HAPPENED TO ME I FELT THAT EVERY TIME I WENT TO CANADA.

I WASN'T JUST BEING IN A COUNTRY WHERE GEORGE BUSH IS PRESIDENT.

(LAUGHTER) IT HAD TO DO WITH CANADA.

THERE WAS SOMETHING SAVING AND TOLERATING AND WONDERFUL ABOUT CANADA.

>> Stephen: I'VE HAD THAT EXPERIENCE IN CANADA ONLY ONE TIME.

THAT'S WHEN I WENT TO VANCOUVER AND I THINK IT WAS A CONTACT HIGH.

(LAUGHTER) IS THERE SOMETHING ABOUT THE CANADIAN CHARACTER THAT'S DIFFERENT THAN THE AMERICAN CHARACTER?

>> EVERYBODY'S NOT ARMED THERE FOR ONE THING.

>> Stephen: SO IT'S A VERY DANGEROUS PLACE.

GUNS ARE THE ONLY THING PROTECT YOU.

>> IF YOU NEED PROTECTION.

AND I GUESS YOU DO.

>> Stephen: I DO.

(LAUGHTER) DON'T YOU?

YOU'RE A FAMOUS PERSON.

>> NO.

WRITERS IN AMERICA AREN'T FAMOUS PEOPLE.

WE WORK AWAY SILENTLY ALONE IN ROOMS.

YOU'RE A FAMOUS PERSON.

>> Stephen: I'M VERY FAMOUS.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> Stephen: AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS BOOK YOU SAY... THE FIRST

SENTENCE OF THE BOOK IS "FIRST I'LL TELL YOU ABOUT THE ROBBERY

OUR PARENTS COMMITTED THEN ABOUT THE MURDERS WHICH HAPPENED LATER."

>> YES.

>> Stephen: NOW I KNOW EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS IN THE BOOK.

(LAUGHTER) YOU'VE GIVEN AWAY THE MILK.

WHY AM I BUYING THE COW?

>> I THOUGHT IF I DID THAT YOU WOULD KNOW THOSE THINGS WERE COMING AND YOU WOULD BE NERVOUS

ABOUT IT AND YOU WOULD ANTICIPATE IT AND RATHER THAN BLOWING MY LEAD I USE MID-LEAD.

SECOND I WAS INTERESTED IN WRITING THIS BOOK ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES TO THESE ACTS MUCH

MORE THAN THE ACT THEMSELVES.

NOVELS IN GENERAL ARE ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR,

THE CONSEQUENCES OF HUMAN ACTS MUCH MORE THAN THEY ARE ABOUT JUST THE ACTS THEMSELVES.

>> Stephen: YOU WERE KNOWN FOR NOT TAKING CRITICISM ALL THAT WELL.

>> WOULDN'T YOU LIKE TO BE KNOWN FOR THAT, ACTUALLY.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE KNOWN FOR TAKING CRITICISM VERY WELL?

>> Stephen: I NEVER GET CRITICIZED SO IT'S EASY.

(LAUGHTER) SO DO YOU READ REVIEWS OF YOUR OWN WORK?

>> NO, I DON'T READ REVIEWS BECAUSE I FIND THE GOOD REVIEWS-- WHEN THERE ARE GOOD

REVIEWS-- MAKE ME JUST AS ANGRY AS THE BAD REVIEWS, AND THERE ARE PLENTY OF THOSE.

>> Stephen: WHY WOULD A GOOD REVIEW MAKE YOU ANGRY?

>> BECAUSE THEY JUST DIDN'T GET IT RIGHT.

>> Stephen: LIKE THEY'RE COMPLIMENTING THE WRONG THINGS?

>> OR NOT COMPLIMENTING IT ENOUGH.

(APPLAUSE) SO I SAID TO MYSELF I'M A MUCH HAPPIER BOY IF I DON'T READ ANY OF IT.

>> Stephen: BECAUSE IF YOU DO GET A BAD REVIEW THAT MUST BE IN

SOME WAYS... IF YOU INVEST YOUR OWN EMOTION IN THAT, THAT COULD BE CRIPPLING BECAUSE HOW CAN

DOES IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE A BOOK?

HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED ON THIS?

>> I WORKED ON IT WRITING IT ABOUT THREE YEARS BUT IT'S BEEN IN MY BRAIN SINCE 1989.

>> Stephen: REALLY.

>> YEAH, WHAT WERE YOU DOING IN 1989?

>> I WAS IN KINDERGARTEN.

(LAUGHTER) PRE-K.

>> A LIFE WELL SPENT.

>> Stephen: WHY SO LONG?

IF YOU'RE JUST MAKING STUFF UP,

WHY DON'T YOU MAKE STUFF UP?

>> I LIKE FACTS, FACTS ARE GOOD.

YOU CAN DO GREAT GOOD WITH THEM.

IMAGINATION IS SAVING IN A WAY.

IMAGINATION ALLOWS YOU TO PUT SOMETHING WHERE NOTHING WAS AND GIVE IT TO SOMEBODY AND MAKE IT

AS BEAUTIFUL AS YOU CAN AND LET THAT BE YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE WORLD.

>> Stephen: WHAT DID YOU IMAGINE YOU WOULD JUST PUT IN THERE?

(LAUGHTER)

>> MY HAND.

>> Stephen: YOU SAID PUT SOMETHING WHERE NOTHING WAS.

AND IF THERE'S NOTHING THERE,

YOU WOULD IMAGINE SOMETHING.

>> I WOULD PUT A WELL-CHOSEN WORD IN A SENTENCE.

>> Stephen: I THOUGHT IT WAS A CLAM SHELL, THAT'S WHAT I THOUGHT.

(LAUGHTER) YOU KEEP YOUR BOOKS IN THE FREEZER.

WHEN YOU'RE WRITING THE BOOKS YOU PUT YOUR NOTES IN THERE.

WHY THE FREEZER?

>> I GREW UP IN... WE DIDN'T HAVE A FREEZER WHEN I WAS GROWING UP.

>> IN MISSISSIPPI.

>> Stephen:.

>> Stephen: THEY DIDN'T HAVE FREEZERS?

>> WE HAD ICEBOXES BUT THERE WAS AN OLD DEPRESSION ERA FEAR THAT

IF THE HOUSE BURN IT IS ICEBOX BURNS LAST.

>> Stephen: THE ICE FIGHTS BACK?

>> BUT IF I PUT MY MAN SCREW SCRIPTS IN THERE THEN IF THE HOUSE BURNS THEN MAYBE....

>> Stephen: DOES IT KEEP THE IDEAS FRESHER?

>> IT DOES.

IT DOES.

>> Stephen: DO YOU FEEL THEM AT ALL OR DO YOU START WORKING ON

THE NOVEL AND THINK "THIS KIND OF TASTES LIKE BAD ICE CREAM"?

RICHARD FORD, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING ME.

THE BOOK IS CANADA.

THE THE MAN IS RICHARD FORD.

WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.

(CHEERS AND AP

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