J.D. Vance – Notes from an Author’s Interview

Charlie Rose is my favorite interviewer. He welcomes people from all walks of life to his PBS program, “Charlie Rose,” and once in a while he interviews an author.

On October 18, 2016, Charlie Rose interviewed J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. Born in Kentucky, Vance grew up in the culture of Appalachia. When he went to Yale Law School, he was possibly the only middle class white guy there. He said nothing was ever personally directed toward him, but he felt like there was a feeling of disdain for Appalachia among the people at Yale.

Vance talked about the destructive  attitude that people in Appalachia acquire from their communities. As a teenager, he started sensing that the people were cynical and frustrated. They were distrustful of the people who represented them in government.

At the age of 14, Vance started living with his grandmother. She instilled in him the importance of hard work and study. She worked to overcome the negative influences that she knew would try to pull him down.

Vance talked about the cultural divide in the United States and how the 2016 Presidential election has hit a nerve with many of the people of Appalachia. He said, “Their pride is disappearing because their jobs are disappearing.” (I think I got that quote right. The interview moved along faster than I could take notes.)

He said there’s not enough dialogue between the people of Appalachia and the people from other parts of the country. He thinks more communication would go a long way toward erasing some of the misconceptions outsiders have about Appalachia and its people.

Charlie Rose did not ask Vance anything about the craft of writing or how he goes about writing. That is what I most look for when I hear or read an interview with an author, but I guess such questions are reserved for fiction writers. The point of Mr. Rose having J.D. Vance on his program was to discuss the cultural divide and to get Vance’s firsthand assessment of it.

Until I blog again in a few days, I hope you have a good book to read. If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time.


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