This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Irita Van Doren introduces Don Whitehead, author of "The FBI Story." He speaks of the transition from journalist to author. He discusses the history of the FBI, the role of evidence and proof of guilt or innocence.
Next Van Doren introduces Henriette Rosenberg, a Nazi resistance fighter who formed part of the Dutch underground and was eventually captured tells her story in "The Walls Came Tumbling Down."
Finally, S.J. Perelman, a satirist and prolific writer, speaks. A transcript of his talk follows.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 5731 Municipal archives id: LT5404
"How do you do. I hope that you don't mind if I emit an occasional strangled sob. This is a sentimental occasion for me. You might call it a rhinestone jubilee. It's almost exactly 38 years since I found myself in the vertical plane like this dehydrating before an audience. That ordeal took place in a mythical kingdom not far from here called Providonya, in the principality of Rhode Island. I was at that time a sophomore at the classical high school there and I played a supporting role in a remarkable pageant entitled Pocahontas Get Your Gun...." 48:22 "My business, I may as well confess instantly, is that of a writer which means I sit in hot little room and string words together like beads, at so many cents per bead. It's a shabby gentile existence and I don't think it's the ideal way to make a living but I'm too fragile to drive a brewery truck and I'm too nervous to steal. It's a rather unhealthy life. You smoke far too much and you live in a constant world of fantasy which any reputable headshrinker says is very bad for the psyche. Nonetheless, I cling to it doggedly always hoping that the Irish Hospital Sweepstakes will pay off or that some sheepherding uncle in Australia will cool and leave me his bundle. " 49:23 "Now for some reason I have never been able to fathom, most people are extremely curious about the lives writers lead. They think it's glamorous. It's about as glamorous as working for the United States Post Office. And in fact, it resembles it a great deal. You handle a vast quantity of paper and stamps and envelopes and you handle them twice. Once when you send your manuscript out to the editor and second (laughter) ,...well you've already beaten me to it ." > "The actual process of getting the words down on paper is a complex one. It's a cross between picking okum and eating a banana under water. At the close of the day's business the paint on the walls of my office is scratched up as high as a man can reach, the floor is knee-deep in benzadrine shavings and Daddy has a headache no Colleen (?) could know." "Well, it's delightful being up here like a moving target. I'm only sorry you couldn't see me in my sun helmet and shorts. The resemblance to W. Somerset Maugham was really startling. Of course I don't have a villa in the south of France. His books are infinitely more popular but I do know one shortcut to popularity which he himself told me many years ago. It consists in buttoning the lips smartly over the teeth, or to use his expression, "drying up". > And I propose to put it into execution right now."