"I went out to go to my quarters and as I walked, the war hit me. I told myself that when it's over, I'm not going to be the same guy. I didn't know if I could be a great man, but I was determined to live as if I were."
James Michener's vast work has intrigued
millions of readers. Popularizing history, he wrote extensively about travel
and covered broad areas of America in books such as Centennial,
Hawaii, Alaska, and Chesapeake. He won the Pulitzer
Prize for his first book, Tales of the South Pacific, which he wrote
at the age of forty, and his books were made into television mini-series,
movies, and musicals.
In conversations that took place between
1980 and October 1997, days before his death, Michener met with Lawrence
Grobel at Michener's homes in Florida, Maine, and Texas, as well as in
New York and Los Angeles. The two discussed topics of both a personal and
professional nature and touched on subjects Michener avoided in his own
The product of these revealing discussions
is Talking with Michener, the first full-length book of in-depth
interviews with the famed writer.
In the thirteen chapters of the book, Michener
explores sex, love, pornography, politics abortion, AIDS, plagiarism, sports,
the current state of publishing, and the status of the artist in society.
To Grobel, he reveals many personal milestones and struggles--his dialysis;
the death of his wife Mari; his service in the war; his travels to the
Antarctica and to Pearl Harbor on the 50th anniversary of the bombing;
and his philanthropy totaling $120 million.
Speaking of literary matters, he tells
how he wrote such sweeping novels, why he chose some subjects and avoided
others, and how he might write a historical novel about California. He
analyzes each of his books, chooses his favorites, and discusses his strengths
and weaknesses as a writer.
To accompany the chapters that cover the
writer's life and work, Grobel has written an intimate introduction about
his long relationship with Michener, and Michener interviews himself in
a revealing afterword. Through the pages of Talking with Michener, Grobel
affords Michener's many fans a close portrait of unexcelled depth and discovery.
Lawrence Grobel is a novelist and writer from Los Angeles.
Among his honors are a fiction fellowship from the National Endowment for
the Arts and a P. E. N. Special Achievement Award for his book Conversations
with Capote. His articles and interviews have appeared in Playboy,
Stone, The New York Times, Newsday, Reader's Digest,
and Entertainment Weekly.