THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett

Here's a bit about Kathryn Stockett's THE HELP, the current review available for your book club.

Southern-born herself, Ms. Stockett reaches into the past to tell the story of three Southern women united by some things and alienated by others. Her novel,  THE HELP,  is set in the early 1960s in Jacksonville, Mississippi, where racial tensions are at an all time high following the murder of Medgar Evers. 

The story is told through the voices of these three women. First we meet Aibileen,  a regal, strong, and gentle black woman who is proud to know that she's raised seventeen white children. Her goal is to make sure that her current charge, two year old Mae Mobley Leefolt, knows that she's smart and pretty and that the color of someone's skin shouldn't make a difference.

Then we have Ms. Skeeter, twenty-two and a recent graduate of Old Miss, whose mother would prefer her to be actively searching for her MRS degree rather than pursuing a job as a writer.

Our third voice is Minnie who has worked for white women since she was fourteen and  has lost more jobs by speaking her mind to the woman she works for than she can count. But it's Minnie's strength and stubborn character that makes her stand out from the others.

At the time, there existed a sub-class that had nothing to do with race.  It was the sub-classification of women as a whole, and that's where I see the uniting strength of these women.

Ms.Skeeter wants desperately to break away from the chains that literally bind her to her family's old cotton plantation. She wants to be a writer so she takes on the "Miss Myrna" column in the local paper and depends of the kindness of her best friend's maid Aibileen to secretly guide her through the trials of removing "ring around the collar".  Skeeter is encouraged by a New York publisher to write something she cares about.

The bond that grows between Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny is more than "the help" telling her what it's like to work for white people, it's about what it's like to be trapped in your own world. And being trapped is something Skeeter knows all too well.

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Bryan Burrough, Public Enemies

This interview first published on Feb 26 2008:

I can't begin to tell you what a great guy Bryan Burrough is! Truly one of the nicest authors I've had the pleasure of visiting with!

BB: First off, thanks so very much for the opportunity to chat with you and your many, many readers. You've got a fascinating site, full of good people and thoughtful observations. I'll do my best to answer your questions, plus any others that might come up. Karen, here's what I have so far. I'll try to finish later.

I really appreciate that he's offered to continue our dialogue  as time goes on! Bryan! You're the best!

 There are a ton of people out there who didn't grow up hearing parents and grandparents talk about living during the depression, bank failures, soup kitchens, etc. Can you speak a bit about why you think the times affected the way people literally embraced and cheered for Dillinger and some of the others?

It's so hard for people raised in recent years to understand what people went through during the Depression. The level of poverty, the level of hopelessness, there's just been nothing like it in America ever since. People thought it was the end of the world, and in a way it was. The world people had come to know, the America they had come to know, was simply gone. In its place was a world where all hope seemed lost, where there was simply no sense that the country would ever go back to what it had been before.

At times such as that, people look for hope wherever they can find it. In some small way, Dillinger and his criminal brethren gave hope to millions of Americans that there really was a way to fight back. People weren't just depressed, they were angry. Very, very angry. And the John Dillingers of the world seemed to be acting out the nation's anger. Dillinger never hurt most Americans. He hurt the banks. And that's what people wanted. They wanted a way to show the wealthy and the powerful how hurt they were, how lost, and Dillinger, who seemed like an exceedingly nice bank robber, became a symbol of fighting back.

The kidnapping and subsequent death of the Lindbergh baby caused a change in Federal law, can you tell us how that affected the new FBI and how it affected the gangs? Why did it make a difference for law men?

The Lindbergh Law, which gave the FBI responsibility for tracking down interstate kidnappers, gave the Bureau its first chance to engage with criminals the country actually cared about. Until its passage, the FBI had never really accomplished anything of note; most Americans had no idea it even existed. The Lindbergh Law made the FBI relevant. Engaging with armed kidnappers transformed the Bureau into a far more professional outfit than it had been, much to the consternation of criminal gangs. For years criminals like Machine Gun Kelly had only hick sheriffs to deal with. In 1933, for the first time, the Kellys of the world found themselves facing a federal police force with seemingly unlimited resources that could track them across state lines. For the first time, there was no real place for criminals to hide. That was the genius of the FBI.

You grew up in Texas learning of crime sprees of Bonnie and Clyde through your Grandfather. You have a friend who's great uncle was murdered by Clyde. This story is in your roots. How did your grandfather brought in to be involved with the Barrow gang? Did he live to read your book or know of your research?

BB:My grandfather, John Vernon Burrough, was drawn into the hunt for Bonnie and Clyde in a very peripheral way, as a deputy sheriff in rural Northwest Arkansas who manned roadblocks set up to apprehend the Barrow Gang at several points in 1933 and 1934. I can remember him telling me how frightened he and his buddies were at the time, wondering what they would actually do if that car coming over the rise had Clyde Barrow behind the wheel. Would they be brave enough to shoot? Would they be killed? The Barrows whisked through Northwest Arkansas on a regular basis. Much to his relief, my grandfather never came face to face with them. But they remained very real to him, even in later years. John and my grandmother Mildred knew two people Clyde killed in Arkansas. They knew their families well, and I can remember how both of them would grow silent sometimes when I brought up the subject for the umpteenth time. Clyde wasn't a symbol to them. He was a murderer, and a frightening one at that.

While we are speaking of Dallas' own thugs and original drive by miscreants, Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, these were pretty low level hoodlums. Clyde was a murderer and Bonnie ended up with Clyde out of boredom. Do you think they would have been important enough to be a part of your book, had the 1967 movie not been made?

Thats a great question. Bonnie and Clyde certainly loom large in the American consciousness, almost solely because of that movie. Without it, they would be forgotten today. Still, theirs was a fascinating story, and I imagine it would have remained good enough to make it into the book, although, as you point out, they were very peripheral figures in the overall federal War on Crime. Hoover never thought they were important enough to seriously track.

In 2004 you did an interview for Booknotes with Brian Lamb, while talking about the 1967 film BONNIE AND CLYDE, Mr Lamb asked you "Why do movies change the facts? You replied " Because movie makers have stories that they want to tell. If you want to tell the facts, you make something called a documentary.
Mr. Lamb then asked; "So they don`t have a responsibility to the truth?" and you answered: "It`s great when you get -- if you get movie people in that discussion, they will inevitably come around to the explanation that they believe that their idea serves as the spirit of the truth. One of the great examples would be the movie -- an FBI movie, "Mississippi Burning," which showed the deaths of the three Civil Rights workers in Mississippi. The facts were not correct. But I remember listening to the director say that it serviced -- it was true to the spirit of the story. And I think that`s inevitably what you find."

My question is, how do you hope that Michael Mann and his movie makers stay "true to the spirit of the story'? What do you wish for people to say about your story? Did or do you have any script input?

I've read the script, and while I shouldn't say anything about it, I will say I like it. I didnt have any input, nor did I expect to. That's not the way these things work. Obviously, there's always going to be a different viewpoint between a nonfiction writer and a moviemaker. In my experience, what you hope in these situations is that a filmmaker sticks as close to the facts as possible. In this case, I think you will see a movie that not hews close to the spirit of the book but the historic facts. In fact, I think this may end up being the most factual of any Depression-era gangster movie ever made. Did I use the word `facts' enough for you?

Johnny Depp's been cast as Dillinger, what do you think he could or would bring to the role of John Dillinger?

The key to the real-life Dillinger, what made him a `special' criminal, was his likeability, his charm. Whatever you thought of what he did in life, and he did kill at least one man, there was no denying his charisma. Mr. Depp has that in spades.

What intrigued you about John Dillinger?

His accessibility. Unlike some of his peers, you could get a sense of who John Dillinger actually was. Part of this was the fact that Dillinger was the only major Depression-era criminal who was arrested, and allowed to give press interviews, during his crime spree. So unlike Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson, one can not only view footage of the real Dillinger, but read his words. So not only did he have charisma, it was a charisma you could see and feel. If not for the interviews he gave at Crown Point, I'm not sure Dillinger would have been so well-liked by the public.

When researching Dillinger, who was the closest person to him that you were able to interview?

No one, really. I mean, this was seventy years ago. The one person who was present during much was this, who I did interview at length, was Melvin Purvis's secretary, Doris Rogers. She gave invaluable insights into the FBI agents, and to a lesser extent the criminals.

While reading PUBLIC ENEMIES, I got the feeling that not only was your book a comprehensive telling of that 20 month crime wave, but that you also had another purpose. Perhaps an homage to the FBI men that Katherine Kelly termed "G-men"? Why?

Well, first and foremost, you just want to tell an important story accurately. To the extent I had secondary aims, yes, I wanted to shine some light on the FBI agents, because by and large none of them had ever received any credit for what they did at the time. They were the real heroes here, not Dillinger. Sometimes that gets lost in the telling.

Recently in Vanity Fair you said you were still "feeling like a fifth grader at a Hannah Montana concert." How's that feeling holding on? :))

Oh, golly. You know, Karen, I've sold probaby two dozen books and Vanity Fair articles to Hollywood, and I've had exactly one made into a movie, 1994's ``Barbarians at the Gates,'' made for HBO. At this point, I'd just be thrilled to see a movie actually made. But to see it being made by Michael Mann, with people like Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, well, that's really just too much to ever hope for. I've been surprised by how emotionally involved I've gotten, how exciting it all is. For instance, I'm still floored that they're calling the movie ``Public Enemies.'' I had always assumed they would call it something else, and I guess they still could. Right now, though, it just feels like I'm kind of floating through this. I'm surrounded by dozens of friends and family members who are as well. I guess we're going to have a big party here in New Jersey when (and if) the movie comes out. That'll be fun.

The Kansas City massacre happened trying to free one man and he was killed as well as many others. What happened there and what did the FBI learn from this?

I think what happened there, and I didn't get into this in my book, was that at the moment the gunmen yelled for the lawmen to freeze, one of the lawmen's guns went off. The assasins panicked and opened fire. This was the theory in a great book you could pick up, ``The Union Station Massacre,'' by Robert Unger. I do think Verne Miller was accompanied by Pretty Boy Floyd that day, a contention I lay out in Public Enemies.

The first car I bought for myself in the late 1970s was a Chevy with a huge V8 engine. Ahh those were the days. That car moved. Many people today don't understand the power behind a V8. My dad grew up in rural area in the depression and used to use the term "good dirt roads" all of the time and I didn't understand what that meant until I actually saw and drove on a "good dirt road". How did the vast number of new good roads and fast cars aide or encourage the 20 month crime spree? What all was happening then to help their ease of movement?

As I say in the book, the crime wave of 1933-34 was really the result of technology outstripping the legal system. The bad guys had V-8 engines and Thompson submachineguns, while many lawmen were still toodling around in hand-cranked Model T's with ancient pistols. It took a while for the lawmen to catch up, and when they did, it was pretty much curtains for the bad guys.

Alvin Karpis. Probably the least known of the group, served the longest time in prison, ghost wrote two autobiographies and died in Spain in 1979. You approached the widow of his ghostwriter. You've said that because of that you were able to "uncover tons of new stuff"...what new stuff? What was the best bit in your opinion?

Yes, I managed to read more than a thousand pages of interviews Karpis gave around 1969. They brimmed with new insights into the gang's inner workings, including incidents where Karpis interfaced with the Chicago Mob and Baby Face Nelson. The new material didnt change the broad outlines of his story, but allowed me to tell it with much more nuance than before.

Little Bohemia. 1 FBI agent and 1 civilian killed. 0 criminals captured or killed. Good grief. Not great numbers. What went wrong with what should have been easy? Head 'em up... move 'em out.

Little Bohemia was the result of inexperience, haste and a woeful lack of planning. These poor FBI agents had no idea what they were walking into, and once they found themselves confronted by armed gunmen, they had no idea what to do. What resulted was a comedy of errors -- a comedy, that is, excepr for the fact that men were killed.

Melvin Purvis. Now there's a story. Good guy, young, eager. I got the idea that you liked him. What can you tell us about Purvis? Is history treating him fairly?

I loved Purvis as a character. An extraordinarily good man, earnest, hardworking, well-intentioned, but way, way, way out of his depth when pitted against John Dillinger. Purvis had never been trained for this. He was only 29, for pete's sake. His Achilles heel was his obvious love of publicity, which ultimately led to his departure from the FBI in 1935. History, at least the movies, has generally been kind to Purvis. In fact, I daresay Public Enemies is the first retelling of events to suggest that Purvis was so overmatched. What you have to say about Purvis is that he always gave his best, but in the end his best just wasnt good enough. It's sad that, having been hounded by Hoover for years after his retirement, he ultimately committed suicide. His family always blamed Hoover for that.

The Chicago mobs were pretty much ignored by Hoover, Purvis and the FBI. Why the immunity?

Well, the easy answer is that the FBI had no obvious jurisdiction for fighting the Chicago Mob. That was up to the Chicago police and, at times, the Treasury Department. The truth is that the FBI had a devil of a time tracking down Dillinger, a single bank robber. Hoover had to have known his men simply weren't ready to take on a whole mob.

Speaking of Chicago mobsters, why does most of the action seem to be in St. Paul and not Chicago?

Great question. St. Paul, it turns out, was the capital of Midwestern crime during the 1920s and 1930s, and for a simple reason. It was something called ``The O'Connor System,'' named after the St. Paul police chief who started in around 1908. Basically, the St. Paul cops made a deal with criminals: As long as they didn't commit crimes in St. Paul itself, they would be left alone. As a result, St. Paul became a safe haven for scores of bank robbers, including Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Alvin Karpis, the Barkers and Machine Gun Kelly. FBI files actually indicate it was a top St. Paul cop who initiated the Barker-Karpis gang's two major St. Paul kidnappings.

It's been 5 years since you wrote PUBLIC ENEMIES, if you were to write it today is there anything you would add, change, leave out?

Oh, golly. Well, the book is awfully dense, especially the early parts. I committed the sin of falling in love with the subject matter, which happens. In fact, the manuscript at one point was far longer. On my editor's urging, I cut it by a full 25 percent to make it move faster. I know it's not the easiest read in places, but all in all, I wouldn't change a thing. I've written four books and just finished a fifty, and this was by far my favorite. I wish I could write it again!

We are grateful to Bryan, who continued to be available to us for questions. We thank him!

Nick Hornby, A Long Way Down

Originally published November 14, 2005.

 When writing a story, do you always know how you want the ending to be or do you decide as the story goes along?

Nick Hornby: I don't know what's going to happen really in terms of narrative; I do know the kind of tone I want the ending to have. I knew with this book, for example, that I wanted the characters to live; I also wanted to convey the feeling that their decision was a tentative, delicate one - the first tiny buds of optimism, with no guarantee that the first breeze wouldn't blow them off.

 I hear you are a big fan of a USA band from Philly called Marah, what other US bands do you enjoy?

NH: A lot of stuff. I like Rhett Miller and the Old 97s, Ben Folds, the Pernice Brothers, Brendan Benson, Kathleen Edwards, the Eels, Bright Eyes, Shelby Lynne...I like songwriters. And singers. Singer/songwriters.

In your BBC Breakfast interview, you equated writing books to writing music. How much music have you written? Would we know any of the music?

NH: I've written no music. I just meant that it performed the same function form - or rather, as I don't write music, I imagine that it comes from the same place in me as music does from musicians. The words are, I think, supposed to convey feelings rather than ideas.

 When you interviewed Bruce Springsteen for the Guardian you said: "A Long Way Down was fueled by coffee, Silk Cuts and Bruce (specifically, a 1978 live bootleg recording of 'Prove it all Night', which I listened to a lot on the walk to my office as I was finishing the book)."What was it about that piece that helped you finish, or maybe a better phrase would be, what about it put you in the right frame of being to finish "A LONG WAY DOWN"?

NH: For a start it has fantastic, angry energy - the long, long introduction,with the piano and then the ginormous, beastly guitar. And then - and I don't want to be pretentious or over dramatic, but I fear it might be unavoidable - Springsteen's little spoken intro, about saying his prayers is inspirational for me. It's a long job, writing a book. And you really do have to prove it all night, every night. Or in my case, all day. Every day.

 What was the last bit of music you listened to before opening, or while reading this email?

Mr Hornby replies: She Loves You, by the Beatles. My kids....They have to listen to it thirty times a day at the moment.

 Can you please tell us about the song your wrote for William Shatner and how can we hear it?

NH: It's on Shatner's album 'Has-Been', which came out last year. Ben Folds emailed me and asked me if I wanted to contribute anything, and I submitted a couple of lyrics, and they liked one of them. It's about an extremely bad father who's been out of touch with his kids for decades, and wants to meetup - but he doesn't want to talk about any difficult stuff.

 In your job as a teacher, did you have any students like Jess and how did you deal with them? Did you decide what happened to Jess's sister or is it a mystery to you too?

NH: Yeah, I had two or three Jesses.  I didn't deal with them very well. But they went in very deep, and I never forgot them - mostly, I think, because I learned something about writing from them. Wherever they went, things happened, and they could definitely start a fight in an empty room, as we say here. And that, of course, is exactly what you're looking for as a novelist - you need people who you can just follow around and write down everything they do. Jess's sister: nah, I don't know. I know less than Jess knows, and she doesn't know either.

 Are any of the characters in A LONG WAY DOWN modeled after people you know?

NH: Well, Jess, a little - see above. And JJ...Well, he wasn't really modeled on anyone I know. But once I knew various things about him - that he was American, that he read a lot, that his band played kind of rootsy, souly music - I realized he was beginning to resemble a friend of mine. So I warned the friend in question. He was cool about it. That happens sometimes. You imagine a character from nothing, but once you have imagine him fully, you see that he isn't so different from someone you might know. And this isn't because you have unconsciously modeled your character on someone real; it's because many of us correspond to a type, despite our personal idiosyncrasies.

 Did you have an opportunity to discuss your book with Johnny Depp and get his view on it's content?

NH: We've had email exchanges. He's been very nice about it. I think he gets why I wanted to write it.

 Since suicide is such a difficult topic for so many people, what was your goal or mission on writing about these four characters who really, in the end, didn't want to jump?

NH: My goal was to take people with real problems away from the dark and towards the light. The older I get, the more I value books, films and pieces of music that offer consolation to people whose lives might be difficult; for me, there's too much art that goes the other way, wants to tell us that life isn't worth living. I wanted to find realistic reasons why it might be.

 Finally, what's up next for you?

NH: I have a couple of screenplays of my own I'm working on. One's an original screenplay that I've co-written with Emma Thompson; we're looking for a director for that one. The other is an adaptation of someone else's work -it's a short autobiographical essay that the English journalist Lynn Barber wrote for Granta, a literary magazine. And then I'm going to write a book about and possibly for teenagers.

I thank Mr. Hornby for taking the time to answer our questions and for being so flexible!

Mr. Hornby photo source 

Joseph Gangemi, INAMORATA

Mr. Gangemi's interview published originally August, 22, 2005

\Joseph Gangemi, author INAMORATA

                                                              Copyright Viking Books

 Have you planned a sequel to Inamorata? Is that the reason for the ambiguous ending? Or did you
have another reason?

JG: No sequel in the works, I'm afraid. The ambiguity was for thematic and
dramatic reasons: If I'd said conclusively that ghosts exist, it would have
become a ghost story shelved in the horror section of Borders; if I'd said
conclusively ghosts don't exist, it would have collapsed into a simple con
artist/mystery/crime story.  By keeping my ending ambiguous, the story
remained (to my mind at least) truer to real life, where we don't have
answers to the big metaphysical questions. Also, I wanted to put readers in
the same position as Finch: Forced to take a position on what's going on,
without enough conclusive evidence one way or the other to make it an "easy"
choice. (Because in life answers aren't easy.) My hope was that after
readers close the book they form their own opinion about whether or not Mina
was genuine, a fraud, or an unconscious fraud (suffering multiple
personality disorder)... realizing of course that the opinion you form says
a lot about the bias and beliefs you bring to the puzzle.

 Of all your writings, including fiction and screenplays, which is the one
most satisfying for you to see produced? Did it or do you think it will
meet your expectations

JG: Film and fiction deliver some of the same satisfactions (writing a good
sentence, coming up with a surprising or true bit of observation or
dialogue). Also some of the same frustrations (the fickle taste of the
marketplace, the thickheadedness of some editors and movie execs.) Novel
writing is the more solitary endeavor, and perhaps more satisfying to the
ego: when writing a novel, I'm writer, director, producer, set designer,
etc, all rolled into one. And there's only one name-- mine-- on the cover!
That said, I really enjoy the collaborative side of film making, working with
talented actors, directors, and creative executives. When you work with
artist-friendly folks like Infinitum Nihil (Johnny Depp's company) it's a dream. And
when you work with other talented and experienced artists who are as
perfectionist and painstaking as yourself, it raises your game. I'm a better
novelist as a result of being a screenwriter and working with world class
directors and actors.

I can see  from the back story on your website that you did quite a bit of
research into the real "Crawleys", the Crandons. In addition to researching
the written documents, were you able to speak to any of the participating
peoples' descendants about any tales that had been passed down?

JG: Not really. Everyone directly involved is long dead. I was contacted by the
real Mina Crandon's great-granddaughter after the book was published. She
was surprised by the number of small real life details I'd managed to work
into the story, and was curious how I'd uncovered them. Which was a spooky
moment for me, because by and large I didn't research the real story too
much-- I wanted to allow my imagination free reign to reinvent the tale for
my purposes. So perhaps I'm a little psychic myself!

There are memoirs by various participants in the true life story, but I made
a point of not reading them. The only books I read that directly related to
history were one on "Margery" by Thomas Tietze, and another recent title
about the friendship between Conan Doyle and Houdini. (And I was just at
Borders today and noticed someone else has just published this week a novel
about Houdini, spiritualism, and "Margery." Sure am glad I beat him to the
bookstores & film producers.)

Congratulations on  your book sold to Hollywood,  what did you think when
you first learned  that this could become a movie?

JG: Well, I should say first that I have been working in Hollywood for eight
years now, have sold a script to (and spent time with) Mel Gibson, having a
movie about to go into production produced by Steven Soderbergh and George
Clooney, and have worked for all the major studios at one time or another,
so it wasn't quite the giddy "winning the lottery" experience other first
time novelists might have. A lot of the mystery of the Tinseltown biz is no
longer a mystery for me, since I've been to film sets and met celebrities.
And Johnny came very close to starring in another film of mine that's being
made early next year by Mel Gibson's company, "Eliza Graves." That said, I'm
not yet so jaded as to not have been over the moon when Johnny responded to
my work. I've admired his offbeat choices for years, especially the smaller
films like "Don Juan De Marco" and "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" and "Dead
Man" and "Finding Neverland." So it was an extraordinarily flattering and
gratifying moment to know an artist I admire enjoyed one of my works enough
to want to produce it... and maybe play a cameo role.

WOW!  Have you had an opportunity to visit with Mr. Depp about turning your book
into a screenplay and then a film? Did he tell you what attracted him to

JG: Alas, not yet: Johnny's been a busy guy over the last year, and we haven't
managed yet to connect. Whenever I'd be in L.A. it would turn out he was
off, say, promoting "Finding Neverland" or shooting "Pirates" 2 & 3. And
complicating matters further was the fact that I usually live in Philly and
spent a big part of the year living in Italy. Fortunately, my wife and I are
spending the summer here in Hollywood, so I'm told I'll be meeting JD at
some point in the very near future. So I'll be sure to ask him your question
when we finally do connect!

 If you had your choice of any actor and actress to play Finch and Mina,
who would you choose, and did you have them in mind when you wrote the

JG: Well if it were up to me, I'd create a time machine and bring a 23 year old
Johnny forward in time to play Finch! But failing that, I'd love to see
Cillian Murphy (BATMAN BEGINS, 28 DAYS LATER) play Finch, and Kate Winslet
play Mina. But there are a lot of interesting actors and actresses out there
who I think could do justice to the parts, and at the end of the day I defer
to folks who are expert at spotting actorly excellence. The trick will be
finding people who are both artistically gifted yet also represent the kind
of box office draw that the producers need to get a film seen by as large an
audience as possible. Even for a movie of modest budget like this one, the
practicalities of the marketplace are always considered. It is "Show
Business" after all-- not "Show Hobby."

 I loved the book, but the whole part about the pigeon got me confused.
Finch was so thorough in his investigation, so it seemed strange that he
would let Crawley take charge of getting the substance on the pigeon tested.
Also, the pigeon flew well enough when Finch released it, but it was dead by
the time he reached it, along with all the others. It couldn't have been
starving or it would have eaten at the Crawley's house, and if it was very
ill, would it have been able to fly back to the coop? I am wondering if I
maybe missed something, or if the pigeon was just used as a way for Finch to
meet with Stanlowe.

JG: The pigeon appeared quite mysteriously out of my subconscious imagination --
it wasn't in the outline. So I can't say exactly why or how it came to be.
But I seem to recall wanting something in the story you wouldn't find in a
traditional procedural mystery or private eye novel: a more intuitive,
spooky, slightly unexplainable "clue" the hero would have to follow on
faith, that would lead him on a journey into the seedier parts of town and
Mina's backstory. And I wanted to unsettle Finch -- a man of science -- by
having this unexplained coda to the sequence occur: finding the pigeon dead.
Why? I don't know. Can pigeons die of a broken heart? (He returns to the
roost to find his fellow pigeons dead.) I know goldfinches have notoriously
weak hearts and, when domesticated, are often found dead after large parties
due to overstimulation.

So my answer is: No, you didn't miss anything here, it was meant to be
slightly "off" and intentionally ambiguous, like so much else in the book.
Hope this doesn't seem like a cop out. I've written plenty of more
procedural works, so I could've cooked up a more unambiguous bit here. But I
was trying to walk the tightrope between playful ambiguity and readerly

 How soon can we expect your next novel, the one set in the 1950's?

Are there other projects that you are working on now, can you share anything
about them?

JG: The 1950s novel is on hold, alas. Found out there was another novel out
there with too similar a plot line. I am cooking up a new novel, but it's too
early to discuss. (I'm superstitious; don't want to jinx it.)

However, I'm pleased to be able to discuss several upcoming film projects.
"Eliza Graves," a romantic drama set in an asylum in 1895, and based on an
Edgar Alan Poe story called "The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether", is
scheduled to begin shooting in April, under director Mike Van Diem, for Icon
Films and Lions Gate. And a tiny little snowbound ghost story "Wind Chill"
(which may undergo a title change) will start shooting in late-January in
Candada under the direction of Greg Jacobs; it's being produced by Stephen
Soderberg's & George Clooney's company Section 8.

Unfortunately, I'm not at liberty yet to mention the name of the director
who will be shooting "Inamorata" (hopefully around January or February) just
yet. But I'm very excited about the fellow who's been chosen-- so keep your
eyes peeled on the trades, as I expect there will be casting and other
production news announced in the coming months.

 Knowing that novel adaptations for the screen can sometimes be difficult
for the author, is there anything not in the INAMORATA screenplay that you
would have liked to have carried over from the novel?

JG: The funny thing is, much of what I cut out -- the surgery scene, the
Christmas shopping expedition -- Infinitum Nihil and the director asked me
to shoe-horn back in! I was trying to be a good screenwriter and economize.
So this note from the producers was a fun one to implement. But I was forced
to cut the long scene where Finch ventures to Kirkbride asylum, and I think
that one will remain on the cutting room floor. However, there will be a few
new surprises for readers, though, in the movie version, including at least
two scenes that aren't in the book.....

My grandmother was a spiritualist when I was a young child, and while
in California with her, I did watch what was later identified to me as a
seance. I have to admit I remember very little about this, but I do
remember the fervor of belief in the seances and being able to speak with
those no longer living. In the course of your research, did you participate
in seances, and if so, what is your opinion of them? What was the strangest

JG: I did almost no hands-on spiritualist research during the planning and
writing. However, a few years earlier I had visited a parastudy group
(during a very atmospheric thunderstorm), and once I took my mother to a
famous Philly psychic as a Christmas gift (she seemed to be a
well-intentioned fake... the psychic, not my mother). And I did drop in on a
Theosophists meeting once, just for kicks, though theosophy is only
tangentially related to the 1920s spiritualist movement.

 What part of the Inamorata story are you most excited to see translated
to film?

JG: I have my own favorite little moments that just make me laugh, like Dr.
Munson, the chiropodist who demonstrates the dexterity of the "pedal
extremities." Also the Dr. Vox scene. But I think the sequence/scene I'm
proudest of is the one where Mina meets Finch in the hotel room, and he
hypnotizes her. It may be the best scene I've every written, in anything.
I'd love to see that filmed...

I read that your book's story was based on fact, how did you decide how much of
the factual info to put into his book? Obviously some facts were left out,
what key fact or facts did you decide to leave out and why?

JG: I decided early on to leave Houdini out -- He was actually part of the real
investigating committee -- because I thought he'd be distracting for
readers, a kind of cutesy historical cameo. Unless you are a genius, like
E.L. Doctorow, that kind of thing can read "silly." Besides this, I wanted a
more sympathetic and complicated Mina than the real life version, who seemed
a rather sad and slippery customer, more of a fame-seeker and seductress.
(Though a more cynical reader could argue my Mina is all of these too.) I
tried to cram as much period detail as possible into the story to make it
feel real, and to use details that you don't typically find in period
fiction: food, brands of cigarettes, slang. Also to weave it as artfully
into the narrative as I could, so it didn't stick out as PERIOD DETAIL!!! In
fact I hired a friend who is a costume designer/clothing historian just to
design a detailed period wardrobe for my characters, since I don't know
crepe du chine from crinoline.

 You left the ending of your book very open for us to make our own
decisions, but I would like to know if you think the Real Mina was genuine?

JG: Sorry, I don't answer that question when people ask (and everyone asks)! Not to be coy. Truth is,  I honestly don't know. I realize you're probably
rolling your collective eyes as you read this, but I swear it's true:
Whenever I found myself making too strong a case one way or the other while
writing the book (Walter is Real, or Mina's a Fake) I made certain to shore
up the opposing argument in the very next scene or soon thereafter. This "Is
she or isn't she?" dynamic was the engine under the hood of my story, and
the reason I embarked on the book in the first place, so I tried to remain
true to it and trust it throughout.

However, if you're asking me whether or not I believe in ghosts, I can say
this: I've never experienced one myself, but I remain cautiously optimistic
I may do so someday. I'm a true skeptical inquirer.... not unlike Houdini.

 It appears that Houdini was convinced of Mina Crandon's fraud, yet he
apparently firmly believed that he would reappear after his death. Did you
formulate or find any reason why he felt he could succeed while others could
merely pretend? In your opinion, was he somewhat attracted to Mina, as many
appeared to have been?

JG: Well if Houdini was convinced he could come back, he's been proven wrong.
His wife held seances for many years after -- until her own death in fact --
on the appointed night (Halloween), at a hotel here in Hollywood, and never
heard a peep from the Other Side. As to whether Houdini was attracted to
Mina or not... I can only assume he held her in respectful professional
admiration, as a gifted and clever con. (Which is what the real Mina seems
most certainly to have been.) I believe the real Mina had affairs going with
several members of the committee, perhaps even with her husband's blessing.
Again, this was why I decided to take a sharp left turn from the truth,
because I wanted a Mina my Finch, my readers, and I myself could believe in,
and love.

As always, I thank Mr. Gangemi for his time and thoughtfullness.

Actor Interviews

John Michael Bolger - Public Enemies

Kathryn Leigh Scott, Dark Shadows: Return to Collinwood, Dark Passages

John Michael Bolger - Public Enemies

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copyright Michelle Martin, photo used with permission 
John came to everyone's attention when he was seen quietly and unobtrusively greeting the fans on location for PUBLIC ENEMIES, day after day, night after night. 

Can you start by telling us about your book?

JMB: What a nice question to ask. I was born and raised a Catholic and went to Catholic school and the nuns taught me penmanship and I always knew when I was a kid that I wanted to be an actor and it took me a long time to get around to it,  I didn't start til I was twenty seven years old, but I always knew in the back of my mind that I was going to use this penmanship someday! And I wrote a book.  I started it in 2001, it took me seven years to write it, it's a coming of age story about Hell's Kitchen - where I lived in 1980, seen through the eyes of one kid,  Frances Doonan. 
About these seventeen year old kids growing up in 1980,  just a coming of age story. I wrote it, it was hard, it was painful, it was cathartic, it was revelatory and now I'm hoping to get it published, hoping to somehow get it related to the movie when it comes out. I'd love that. It's also got "movie" written all over it. It's also a book about something, like a message to kids that their whole life doesn't happen in one summer or in one month or in one age. You have a long road ahead of you if you can somehow get through those tender years, ya know?

So is there a little bit of a personal element there?

JMB: Absolutely, absolutely.

We are all about reading and books here, so when you are published we'll have to review and share your book!

JMB: Thank you very much.

Would you be so kind to talk to us then about it?

JMB: Absolutely, I'll talk to you any time you want.

You are wonderful! Are you still living in the Hell's Kitchen area of NY?

JMB I am.

It's sort of a community in transition?

JMB: It is, but what it's becoming, I sort of miss the old neighborhood. I miss the funk! 

You've played a lot of police officers in your career as I look at your listings on IMDb!

JMB: That's very astute of you! But ya know, I'm not going to complain because it pays the bills and from stereotype, I can do so much more than that, but not as of yet.

They LOVE you as a policeman, so many roles!

JMB: It's because I've got this Irish mug, and I think my Shakespearian trained voice doesn't help the situation either. (he laughs) But like I said, I'm not complaining! If they want to keep casting me that way? Cool!

You were in Third Watch..Law and Order...really good roles in the series.

JMB: I was in Third Watch for four years, I've been very blessed, I've been extremely blessed. I hope the blessings continue. As you know, you have a nice knowledge of the industry, you can work non stop for years and then not work for years, so you've just got to somehow keep your foot in the water and remember your swimming strokes. 

Talking about keeping yourself in the water, you have done a boat load of TV work, and I'm looking at the number of years that you have put into your craft and then BOOM comes this huge Michael Mann film!

JMB: I'll tell you a great story, at the age of twenty seven I got sober, quit and got fired at the same time from a job that I had worked in for ten years, since I got out of high school. And decided to pursue my childhood dream to be an actor because I always loved James Cagney and I always just wanted to be an actor. But I never told anybody, I never was in a school play, I never did anything. I knew inside, I knew deep inside that someday this is where I would end up, I didn't know how I was going to get there, but I knew I would end up there. And apart from getting fired by my public service job, I started to enter in the world of taking acting classes and going around the Actors Studio where I eventually became a member of the Actors Studio. My very first professional job was on a show called "Crime Story" - Michael Mann and Bonnie Timmermann was the casting director. That was twenty years ago. That was one of the better received "Crime Stories," people had always said to me during that time that Michael Mann loves you, Michael Mann loved that episode, he loves you. In the time since, I've told my representation that you've got to get me into that Michael Mann project, he loves me. Twenty years later? I'm back with Michael Mann. He gave me my first break in television and this is a big shot for me in this movie. So...look at that. There's a French word "la ronde" which means full circle and it's just like a full circle to me. It's like back to the beginning again.

What's up next for you?

JMB: I have no idea.

Isn't that the wonderful thing about acting though? You never know when that next phone call will come and your whole world will be changed again?

JMB: I humbly wait at the end of the line. This has been a wonderful year for me, I can't complain, I can't sigh or I can't moan in any way. Just working on that film alone, I have good thoughts and hopes for the film and who knows.

Judging my what we've seen and heard this film could be very well received. You are going to found by a whole new audience out there that didn't know you existed, didn't see your years on TV.

JMB: Yeah I'm excited about that.

  Do you think that might open some new doors?

JMB: You know, I hope so. I've been plugging away at this for quite a while and the thing about entering into the acting world when you're a bull in a china shop is in the beginning in my case, you don't know what to do, you don't know what NOT to do. I've probably made a few mistakes along the way, but I hope what it shows people is that if you have perseverance and tenacity and you're willing to grow and you're willing to hang in. 'Cuz it's about hanging in, believing in yourself which can sometimes take a person a whole lifetime to just be able to say that. Even upon saying that you still have doubts. I'm excited about the fact that I know Johnny's got an incredible following so I'm excited about the fact that my face is going to be seen by a whole lot of people, on Johnny's back, which I am happy to do.

  This is such a cross marketable film...all the fans of Bale, Depp, Tatum, older people who lived the depression...

JMB: I also think to add to your thought, the times we're living in right now are so similar to those times, and I'm sure that Universal and Michael and everybody's aware of that. Even while we were making the film, while I was doing my own personal research, I went my God this could literally be a story told today. Also there's an incredible boatload of actors as well. Growing up I loved the old Warner Bros. films, like I said, James Cagney...there's just so many characters, mugs and faces and energies, it's going to be interesting, like a big pot of soup.

  You just brought up doing your research, tell me what kind of research that your did to play Det. Martin Zarkovich?

JMB: When I first went into the part, I knew that there was a book, I understand that you've interviewed the writer of the book.

  Yes, Bryan Burrough... he's a very nice man.

JMB: I went and read the book and ate the pages and then because of my extensive background of playing police officers, there's a mind set that police officers have, so I sort of have that. And then when I got to Chicago there was a lot of material available to me from Michael and from the research team. And then believe it or not, I had these wonderful things happen to me like one time when I came from New York, because I wasn't there for the length of the film, I was there about five different times for big periods of time but then I would leave and come back. One time I came in and got picked up at the airport by this big, older driver and we got to talking on the way in and there was snow and there was traffic and he said to me...yeah what're ya doing?...and I said well ya know I'm working on this film "Public Enemies" and he said "oh yeah" and it turned out that his father there on the night of the shooting, his father was a Chicago cop. So I had little magic things happen to me like that and it turned out that his father knew Zarkovich, so I had these incredible, wonderful. mythical mystical things happen to me. Then this character I played had a nickname, he was called either the "peacock" or the "sheik" because he dressed very well, he too the money and likened himself to be a gangster and a swell dresser with the madam girlfriend. I was walking through Madison, WI where we were filming and I walked into a store, a boutique and before I left there this lady said, I'd like to give you something, and she gave me a peacock feather not knowing...not having any clue. So that peacock feather? I clipped it and wore it on the inside of my pocket through the whole filming. I just had things like that happen to me that put me right there. I'm also a method actor so I was really into Zarkovich, there are still aspects of him peeling away from me. I'm trying to put him to rest, you know we literally had to take these people out of their graves.

  Had you ever played a character that was real person before Zarkovich?

JMB: No, this was the first time.

  Is it harder to capture someone who was a real person?

JMB: It is, because the way I go about it is that I'm aware of the fact that this was a human being and I felt my responsibility was to try to play him as fairly and as honestly as I could... and a responsibility to his soul, if that makes any sense. There were a lot of things about Martin Zarkovich's story that really disturbed me personally because be betrayed. BUT he betrayed Dillinger for the love of his life. And there were a lot of extremely painful moments for me personally during this film portraying Zarkovich realizing the tumult and the pain and the hell that this man went through and ended up living the rest of his days in. It was quite an interesting journey and it took a lot of me.

  I was going to ask you about playing someone who while he loved his Anna Sage, he was basically a dirty cop.

JMB: Yeah he was a bad dude, a bad dude. I believe the only person who meant anything to him at all was Anna. He was just a bad dude. It was interesting because I remember hearing an interview by Anthony Hopkins who I think's a wonderful actor and he was doing a mini series for ABC playing Adolph Hitler and about three days into the filming the producers called him up and told him that he was making this guy likeable and I remember Anthony Hopkins saying every person has a person who likes them and there's got to be a likeability as well as evilness, the bad as well as the good to make a well rounded person. So I kept thinking about that, even though Zarkovich just a prick, I'm sorry, I don't know how else to say it. But there was something that was likeable about him too, he was some mother's son. The internal tug of war was unbelievable.

So how did you come home alone and work through this character after filming all day?

JMB: When you work the way I work, it's better that I came home alone and wrestled with the demons, you're a smart woman to ask me that question because I'm still wrestling with some of Zarkovich. I'll carry him for the rest of my days and there were moments ......whew....there were subtle moments in this film that I will never forget, ever. Where nothing had to be said and nothing had to be done, I just felt it deep in my core that will always be there.

  In talking with you today, I have to say that so much of what you share are like what Mr. Depp seems to share as an actor, he like you and Anthony Hopkins say that they strive to make something of an unlikeable character likeable because as you've said, that character has someone who loves them. 

JMB: Johnny and I didn't get to spend a lot of time together because it was just insane ...but we liked one another, I am sure of that and we connected and we had a couple of scenes together and whenever we saw one another we were very warm to one another, there was a connection for sure, I am sure of that. When it came time that we were coming to the segment of the shooting I would weep. I would just weep. Because I felt so bad. The way I was brought up, the way I was raised and the way I live my life is that the one thing you do is you have honor, you do not betray anybody. And you do not betray your friends and it still irks me, because I know that Martin Zarkovich after the whole thing was said and done they ended up deporting Anna Sage and he ended up living his life sort of in silence, he never spoke about it again and sort of drifted away. There's a great story "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allen Poe, he must have lived in his own cask of Amontillado, that's the part that haunts me. I remember looking at Johnny and I uttered under my words "I'm sorry kid". When you look in his (Johnny's) eyes there's a whole reservoir of humanity there. And it was killing me. It killed me. It killed me. Plus Anna Sage was the love of Zarkovich's life..there was a whole lot going on, that I (my character) was afraid for her sake and our safety. I just went back to my religion and I just thought about what Judas Iscariot must have felt like for those pieces of silver...he ended up hanging himself. It was deep, I took it to a deep level, I hope it shows.

Let me ask you a different type of question, do you know why I wanted to talk with you?

JMB: I don't.

  It was when I saw a clip of you on youtube saying so many really gracious things to the fans, you were the one who was out there with the fans after filming day after day. Being such a gentleman to the fans who were there, you gave of yourself. I said to myself that I wanted to try to contact this man, that this man was kind to the fans and we thank you for that.

JMB: Thank you, as I said to the fans, without them, I'm nobody, I'm just another John Doe on the street. And those fans were my safety net. I knew that whenever I came back from wherever I'd been, if I fell, that they'd be there for me. And I knew that their love and their support and their smiles and all their faces were all apart of the experience. I would see them, they were just a whole part of the experience. They kept me going so many times that you don't know.... My credo is I've never met a fan I didn't like, if somebody is going to take the time to walk over to me or say hello to me or smile at me or look for my know actors, we're all little kids who didn't work our stuff out so we're trying to work it out now, we're turning our pain into art and the fact that anybody would go out of their way on the planet to be nice to me or get my attention then they can approach me any time they want.

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YOU are quite a remarkable gentleman!

JMB: Thank you very much.

May we speak about Michael Mann? You've worked with him in television and twenty years later in the movies, is he the same man?

JMB: When I worked with him in television he was the executive producer he wasn't the director, although he was around. Do you want my opinion of Michael Mann?

  I'd love to hear what you'd like to share with us!

JMB: My opinion of Michael Mann is George Patton on top of a jeep driving through the snow with bullets flying. I would work for this guy anywhere, anytime, any place, for any amount of money, anywhere. I don't know anyone else's opinion and I frankly don't care about anybody else's opinion, this man treated me with respect, gave me an incredible part, put me in a great position and I have never seen a dynamo and this isn't and actor sucking up to a director. The job's done. I've never seen a man like this in my life. We were out one night filming on the famed, fabled Lake Michigan and within four seconds the weather went from being pristine to like the end of the world. And I watched this man running with equipment in the wind, this man is "first in and last out" he was, if he called me right now and said "John start walking to Chicago, I've got something for ya" I'd say, Karen, I gotta go. That's my opinion of Michael Mann. I can't say enough about Michael Mann and that's the truth, that's from my heart, that's not hoping he'll hire me again. I mean that. Michael Mann is one of THE most passionate, driven people.

I want to tell you as I'm talking to you right now I'm looking at a poster that's been on my wall my whole life and it's called "Public Enemies"'s a James Cagney movie that I've had in my possession forever. And I'm in a movie called "Public Enemies" I mean you can do the math any way you want. Michael Mann... I got to stand there and watched him in the most unbelievable situations whether it was ego or weather or demographics or logistics or all of the above at the same time coming down with the unknown, he handled it. He handled it with aplomb and grace. The man is the bomb. And I mean that. The man gave me permission, what do we look for in life, we look for an "atta boy" - we look for permission, we look for somebody to take notice of us, we look for somebody to see us across a room.

  So you feel that as an actor, the way he treated you enabled you in the role?

JMB: ABSOLUTELY! And you know he's got a method to his madness, he knows exactly what he's doing. He would have you psychologically set up to be right where you were supposed to be without even knowing it. It was just brilliant what he was doing and he couldn't have been more graceful with me, sometimes he wouldn't talk, he'd just come over and put his hand on me and that was enough. A lot of people in this industry need to realize first that we're blessed when we get to do this and second we have a responsibility to humanity because we get to portray the human spirit, we go where other people don't get to go. And that there needs to be a little more respect for the craft and a there needs to be a little more respect for people called directors because they're the ones that are ultimately going to put it all together in the end and that doesn't just pertain to this project, it pertains to every project I've ever done. Michael Mann ran a first rate, first class operation, where we didn't want for nothing, we didn't need for nothing, we were treated like gold. All the way, first class from the beginning to the end. Given everything we needed to live, everything we needed to be creative. Everything, everything. The top, the best...cameramen, costumers...everything was the best.

And I hope Michael Mann gets the Academy Award for it, he has quite a body of work and he deserves it for this.

  Well Universal has this film as it's tent pole film next summer, so I hope there's a big push for the film at awards time.

JMB: Gee I'm feeling like Will Smith all of a sudden! (we laugh)

  Zarkovich was a bad dude, but was there any joy there at all for you?

JMB: Let me see, my first scene in the movie, there was a lot of joy because I was awaiting him and I was with her (Anna Sage) and I knew once I saw him we were going to get a pile of money and I was going to be able to eat steak with baked potatoes, carry on, buy a new suit, act like a big shot and treat my baby nice and life was going to go along swimmingly. That's about it though. From there on it was a battle for Zarkovich's soul.

As an actor knowing the outcome, was it that much harder for you?

JMB: I tried to sort of hypnotize myself that I didn't, that I was going to go moment to moment. And you know it was so disjointed for me, it wasn't like I was there and we did it chronologically so I had to sort of psych myself up. Zarkovich was with me all the time and when I would come back to NY, he was with me and people would say to me "what's up with you?" and it was too much to explain. Colleen Atwood, the greatest costume designer on the planet, when she would give me some of these clothes, shoes and just these little things, like the I tried to take it moment to moment, I tried to imagine what he went through. It's in your soul, it's a deep, dark place. I always look at acting as if it were an Olympic swimming event and there's three types of actors, you have the first type of actor who wears the speedo, looks great, dives in the water, barely makes a splash, swims end to end, comes out, doesn't even look wet. Looks great. You have the second kind of actor, wears the speedo, looks great, but does something else in the water, does the butterfly, breaks it up a little bit, then you've got the actor that I am, that I think I am, the actors that I really care about you show up, you're probably not in a bathing suit, you find the deepest end of the pool, you dive in, you make a really big splash and you hope that people wait for you to come back up. If that makes any sense to you at all.

  That makes great sense and so that also gives me a question, what swimmer is the lead actor in this film, Johnny Depp?

JMB: He's my swimmer. Absolutely my swimmer.

Can you give something about him, a one word description maybe?

JMB: Soul. Soul. Soul. You look in eyes and there it is. Right there. There's no mistake in why he's a movie star, he's a gorgeous guy, he's got the suave, he's got the look, he's got the grace, he's got the moves but...when you look deep in his eyes? There's the soul. It's like a mine of gold. And that's what Tim Burton and anyone who uses him, they know. It's his soul, it's right there.

  I hope that we can visit again maybe when the movie comes out? You've been such a great man to talk with!

JMB: I would like that very much! Now, could you do me a favor?

JDR: Yes of course!

JMB: I would like you to give my love and my best regards to all the fans and tell them that the brightness of their eyes and the depth of their smiles will stay with me forever and that I wish them well and I hope that we meet again.

  I will get great joy out of doing that!

JMB I mean that. While we were doing this film, I mean we worked inordinate hours, there were people all around at the hotel, the Starbucks...and they got to know me and I got to know them and then we knew each other by name and they would see me like sleepwalking, staggering through the street. It's just part of the process, the hours, it's just part of the deal, no complaints. There were just fans there, the things they said, they'll never know.. little things they said, or did.

They will know because I will tell them.

JMB: It's the people who you remember along the way, that may say something to you or change your course. The fans, where ever we went? There they were and they'll never know how much they played a big part in keeping me going.

  I promise you, they WILL know it because I will write it for you. Fans react to you because of what they got from you. You gave to the fans. It's an interaction. You shared with the fans and that's why I wanted to talk to you.

JMB: One of my favorite sayings comes from William Faulkner when he accepted his Nobel Peace Prize in 1956, I think, the year I was born, he said "when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tide less in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking.".   And that's something that keeps me going.

  You've just portrayed a tortured human spirit.

JMB: Yes, one of them, and I'd like to put him to rest. Life is pretty simple, you're born, you learn integrity, dignity and compassion, sense of humor, some grace, manners and you're gone. You hope maybe you left a mark.

I thanked Mr. Bolger for his honesty and his generosity of time!

The photos of John with his fans copyright Elizabeth Herzog and Michelle Martin, used with permission

Our exclusive author interviews

Bryan Burrough, Public Enemies

Gordon Dahlquist, The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters

J.P. Donleavy, The Ginger Man

Nick Hornby, A Long Way Down 

Joseph Gangemi, Inamorata

James Meek, A Peoples Act of Love

Arvid Nelson, Rex Mundi

Tim Powers, On Stranger Tides 

Kathryn Leigh Scott, Dark Shadows: Return to Collinwood, Dark Passages

Mark Salisbury, Sweeney Todd Companion Book

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