July 21, 2019
Latest News
Entertainment

US author Douglas Kennedy: We've turned into a bunch of conservative idiots

 US novelist Douglas Kennedy poses for photographs during an interview in Paris, France, 04 July 2019. EFE/EPA/IAN LANGSDON

US novelist Douglas Kennedy poses for photographs during an interview in Paris, France, 04 July 2019. EFE/EPA/IAN LANGSDON

By María D. Valderrama

Paris Jul 12 (efe-epa).- Douglas Kennedy is one of the best selling American novelists in France, where he spends much of his life, putting him a comfortable 6,000km away from home to criticize politics and the wave of conservatism engulfing the United States.

A New Yorker who for the last four decades has split his time between Paris, Berlin and London, Kennedy is an avowed social democrat and a loquacious political speaker, especially when it comes to all things American

His latest novel, "The Great Wide Open" (Penguin, 2019), tells the story of a young editor Alice Burns in 1980s New York in the times of excess under the Ronald Reagan era as she delves into tales of family life at a time when her own family has collapsed. It has just been released in Spanish, under the title "La sinfonia del azar" (Editorial Arpa).

Question: So, you're like the opposite of that small-town America?

Answer: The fact of the matter is when I look at my generation of Americans, and the book is all about my generation of Americans, we've turned into a really conservative bunch of idiots haven't we? I was thinking about this the other day. In relation to the novel and just in relation to the fact that I find right now so disappointing and so hard to kind of get my head around.

I grew up at a time when there was change. And the book is all about that period. Right after the 60s. You know I was a teenager at the end of the 60s, in 68 I was 13.

In terms of literature, it was an extremely exciting and changing time. And then basically there was this big white reaction against it which started with Reagan and the book is interesting because it follows that period from Nixon through Carter into Reagan with Ford briefly in there and Reagan has turned out to be the most influential president in America since Franklin Roosevelt.

Q: Do you think Donald Trump is a result of Reagan?

A: Oh yeah, very much. I really do.

Q: So why are we here now?

A: Fundamentally I think there are two Americas and we hate each other.

The book basically talks about that moment in America when the culture wars began, which was the era of Nixon. And so the family, the Burnses, is — I don't want to use them as a direct mirror, I don't like that, it's a little too obvious — but they're living through this enormous change and they're basically going through a kind of, experientially, very much the same things that were going on at the time.

I mean the father is an old Irish Catholic working class hard-ass who's made good and is in the CIA like my father was. Like my father was. That is my day.

Q: So your dad (a former CIA agent involved in the coup d'état to install Augusto Pinochet in Chile) would call you a communist?

A: I think I'm what a European would call a social democrat and my father would definitely call me a red.

My biggest regret was I never thought Sanders could win in '16 and Hillary turned out to be the wrong candidate. You know. But look what we've got.

And we're getting into a terribly dark time. I think it will end eventually.

Q: The dark time or the world?

A: I think the cycle will change. I do think there be a reverse. But I think it's going to take time or it might take a cataclysm and it might take a huge economic downturn or a war for that matter for it to change.

Q: Is there much of you in Alice Burns?

A: There is and there isn't. There are certain things.

We went to the same university, also to Ireland to Trinity College. The rest is all invention. But the parents are very close to mine and my mother did get into real estate but was never successful unlike Alice's mother who becomes very successful.

My father was in the CIA and he was in Chile and he was very much implicated in the coup against Allende which I only found out about later which was interesting.

Q: How did you learn about that?

A: He took me out the night two years after it happened the night before I went off to university in Dublin. We went out to a Japanese restaurant in New York.

Father and son passing back and forth a packet of cigarettes and smoking and my father began to tell the story and he said, you know, you do understand why I've been in South America so much and also why when you were very young I was in Haiti and I was also in Algeria.

I said yeah, you run mines he said well that's true but I have this other job and it turned out he was an agent of the CIA and he was sleeping with the daughter of a member of a Pinochet's inner circle.

Q: He told you this that same night?

A: Yes, I was 19. Amazing.

I think that was the night I became a novelist. EFE-EPA

mdv/jt/sh

News history
Princess Mako honors memory of Japanese who died in Bolivia

Okinawa I, Bolivia, Jul 19 (efe-epa).- Princess Mako of Japan honored this Friday the memory of her migrant compatriots who died in Bolivia at a monument in...

Germany returns painting stolen by Nazis to Florence

Rome, July 19 (efe-epa).- More than 75 years after being looted by Nazi troops during World War Two, a stolen painting has been returned to its rightful...

Tired tiger takes nap in resident's bed in a flooded area of Assam

New Delhi, Jul 19 (efe-epa).- A tigress was found napping on a bed inside a house in India's flood-ravaged state of Assam.

Buckingham Palace celebrates 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth

London, Jul 19 (efe-epa).- An exhibition at Buckingham Palace will celebrate how Queen Victoria transformed the royal residence into a symbol of the British...

Dutch royal family poses for annual photo shoot

Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima pose during the annual royal photo session in the garden of Huis ten Bosch Palace in The Hague, Netherlands.

By Imane Rachidi

By Jesus Centeno

Happy 40th birthday: Tokyo exhibit evokes Walkman nostalgia

By Nora Olive

"Terminator" steals the show at Comic-Con opening

David Villafranca

South Sudan laughs its way to peace

By Atem Simon Mabior

The Mexican clothing brand named after El Chapo

By Mariana González

La "Vieja dama" cumple 325 años a cargo del monedero de la nación

By Judith Mora

Japan receives record number of foreign tourists in first half of 2019

Tokyo, Jul 17 (efe-epa).- Japan welcomed a record number of foreign tourists, 16.63 million, in the first six months of this year, according to official...

Retired SCOTUS Justice John Paul Stevens dies aged 99

Washington DC, Jul 16 (efe-epa).- John Paul Stevens, who served as a justice on the Supreme Court of the United States for 35 years and became an...

Los Angeles, Jul 16 (epa-efe).- "Game of Thrones" on Tuesday racked up a record 32 Emmy Award nominations, thus becoming the series that has received the...

Performers take part in traditional Kyrgyzstan festival

Performers take part in traditional Central Asian activities during a festival in Ton village, near Issyk-Kul lake, Kyrgyzstan.

Meet India's ‘snakeman’ who has caught 222,000 serpents

By Sarwar Kashani

Princess Mako thanks Bolivia for 120 years welcoming Japanese migrants

La Paz, Jul 15 (efe-epa).- Princess Mako of Japan thanked Bolivia this Monday for the welcome it has extended over the past 120 years to Japanese migrants...

San Juan Parangaricutiro, Mexico's Pompeii buried by Paricutin volcano

By Manuel Soberanes Cobo

Mooning US tourist released after obscene photo at pyramids of Giza

(Update 1: Adds the release of the tourist)

Boys in Bangkok get heads, eyebrows shaved during Buddhist ceremony

Hill tribe boys in Bangkok have had the hair on their heads shaved Sunday as part of a mass Buddhist monk ordination ceremony at Wat Benchamabophit, also...

The Rock, Jason Statham, Idris Elba attend Fast and Furious premiere

Los Angeles, USA, Jul 14 (efe-epa).- Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Idris Elba and Jason Statham have in Los Angeles attended the world premiere of "Hobbs and...

Transgender models walk the ramp at Miami Swim Week

Miami, United States, Jul 13 (EFE).- A dozen transgender models walked the ramp at the Miami Swim Week with the show themed around the topics of...

Spain's Running of the Bulls festivities draw to close for another year

The San Fermin festival, also known as the Running of the Bulls, that takes place in Pamplona every year drew to a close on Sunday.

I agree Welcome to news4europe.eu. We use cookies to improve your online experience. Find out more.