Mon September 17, 2012
Kurt Andersen, Bestselling Author and Host of Public Radio's Studio 360, Reflects on His New Novel
Today we speak by phone with Kurt Anderson, the widely acclaimed writer whose novels include "Heyday" and "Turn of the Century," among other books. Andersen writes for television, film, and the stage, contributes to Vanity Fair, and hosts the PRI program Studio 360 (which is heard every Thursday at 8pm on Public Radio 89.5-1 KWGS). He joins us to talk about his new book, "True Believers," which has been hailed as a "fiendishly smart, insightful, and joyously loopy novel" (San Francisco Chronicle) as well as a "witty, imaginative novel [that's] one part bildungsroman, one part political thriller, and one part contemplation on age --- and in all aspects wonderful reading" (Scott Turow). In this novel, Andersen presents the autobiographical musings of one Karen Hollander, a brilliant and famous attorney and legal commentator who recently removed herself from consideration for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. But why did she do so? Basically, because she has a secret: a long-buried episode in her past that dates back to the socio-cultural chaos of the late 1960s, when her own development --- as a student, an activist, an intellect, and an individual --- was in its full, coming-of-age force. Karen's attempt to tell, at long last, the complete story of this pivotal incident --- to try to explain the context of this secret, which occurred in a divided America riven by matters of war, race, and politics as well as sex, drugs, and rock and roll --- is the gist of this novel. As a starred review of "True Believers" has noted recently in the pages of Booklist: "Andersen creates spellbinding suspense. This is an ambitious and remarkable novel, wonderfully voiced, about memory, secrets, guilt, and the dangers of certitude. Moreover, it asks essential questions about what it means to be an American and, in a sense, what it means to be America."