Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Alex Haley Interview (Lawrence Grobel)

Lawrence Grobel has been a freelance writer for thirty years, Playboy calls him "the interviewer's interviewer." In 1985 he sat down with Alex Haley:

Lawrence: "At the time of its publication Roots was hailed as one of the most important books of the century, as well as the most important civil rights event since the 1965 march of Selma. Do you hold it in such esteem?"

Alex Haley: "I never would have said that in the first place. I have a much more basic view of myself. I feel myself as a conduit. Roots got born on the front porch of a pretty big house in Henning, Tennessee, where I came from. It was my grandmother's porch. After my grandfather died, my grandma invited her sisters to spend the next summer with her. I was six that summer, and after supper we would gather on the front porch, thick with honeysuckle vines, and the women would all start rocking in their rocking chairs. Then they'd run their hands down into the pocket of their aprons and come up with a can of sweet carrot snuff. They'd load their lower lips and just start talking about their family. They'd talk about their parents, about their daddy's daddy, this ha rum-scar um individual always fighting chickens, people called him Chicken George. Then they would talk about his mother, Miss Kizzy. All of this went on night after night, and that's where I first began to hear the story and why I think of myself as a conduit."

Endangered Species, Writers Talk About Their Craft, Their Visions, Their Lives
by Lawrence Grobel
Published by DA CAPO Press (c) 2001
page 211

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