This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Van Doren identifies prominent members of the audience, then introduces Maurice Dolbier, who introduces Gann, who talks about his book, "Fate is the Hunter," and flying.
Dolbier introduces Wilson, who discusses his book, "Meeting at a Far Meridian," making science more prominent in novels, and Russian life.
Dolbier introduces Mumford, who prefers to talk about "pregnancy and prenatal care and childbirth among authors," instead of his book, "The City in History."
Van Doren closes the program with information regarding the next session.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 71190
Municipal archives id: LT9253
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
Thanks I'm going to. Be. Like. Yes they. Will say anything against. You. The pleasure of hearing. On my extreme left is Mr Crow. Was the vice president of Maryland Booksellers Association and I just scribble those book store list. And then on his right is an executive editor of Doubleday and company leave out. Next to Mr Bauer is the executive vice president and treasurer of the brazing company John McCullough. If you would skip the next month know by this time and we'll see you later I'd like to introduce to you the president and editor in chief of Simon and Schuster am Lincoln Schuster. Much better known to all of his friends and their many as Mack shoes. Then come way across here with me and let me see now the next person I would like to introduce to you is the president of grace and company William you're fond of it. And skip the gentleman who is on his right and let me introduce to you vice president and editor in chief of Doubleday and company can you call me. On his right is the president and Memphis president and member of the editorial board of Simon and Schuster Henry Simon. And finally. You see every guy who is the executive director of the American Booksellers Association. And now. I'm going to turn over this function. To my colleague Paul Reese. Who is the editor of the department on books and authors in the Sunday Review on who writes the daily column. The color on Wednesday said. Mr. I'm sorry he says he writes it now on Tuesdays and Thursdays Yes or any time I get the facts. What authors tell interviewers is not always word for word what interviewers say the authors told them. I would like to give away this trade secrets if I thought it was still secret. In this case again has given many interviews. The files are full of them and I'm depending on the fight. I hope that the interviewers are reasonably accurate. I would like to think that Mr Gunn took up flying because he was fed up with train service in New England. Although I regret that so many people followed his example but in many parts of New England there's no longer any train service at all I would like to think that Mr Gannon told another reporter that he was born of the silver spoon in his mouth and the trying to keep it there ever since the Literary Guild the book of the Month Club. The paperback publishers in the Hollywood studios have happily assisted him in the set of props. Mr gun was born in Lincoln Nebraska in one nine hundred ten he went to Culver military academy where he says he avoided marching as much as possible by writing plays and occasionally performing in the. Practice continued without the danger of marching at the Galle School of Drama as a novelist his purpose has been to entertain his readers he thinks that if more fiction writers do the same more people will be reading books as a novelist his method has been to live the thing first then put it down for a long novel This led him to take a practice mop with the French Foreign Legion in Morocco shades of cold. For another admit him into the commercial fishing business he has written several books the drop on his experiences as a fly over night in thirty six to the mid fifty's at first as a commercial airline pilot later as a pilot of the Air Transport combat fate is the hunter is a nonfictional account of these experiences and a book that has been compared with the air age classics of on to understand as you go each other John Kate Hudson said Mr Gunn leads us into his old province with the assurance of a pilot taking a big perfectly tuned ship into an untroubled sky getting back to the interview Mr Gunn told one of them that he did not like poppies whether we're more than four people we're glad that it came to this one anyway just to get thank those stuff stuff my beating heart. I. Haven't been so scared since Friday. But. I'll get some for ice in a minute I just want to straighten out one thing some. Of that's practical so. But. Somehow their. Word or an advertisement got around that I was a much decorated war hero this is not so. It is true that I was walking with a sort of a bad time but the only heroic thing that I have ever done is appear to lunch and make my first. Now how I got here I think I might get to because I have no business in such. Things company. Professionals. And I. Already know what a fine speaker. They gentleman on my left Mr Mack Schuster gives me some courage because he was the man just like. Turned down the first book I ever wrote. Well and now I am back at it. And believe me if I had been connected with Simon and Schuster I would have turned that book down to. Stinker right. Now the title of this last book. Written is Fate is the hunter and it really. It's not about flying it's late against a background of flying but it's about fate and one of the first readers that bothered with it. Asked me what I was trying to do write a book or start a new religion Well I wanted to do a little bit of both because I sincerely believe that if you think about it so that all of you are as much an authority. On fate as I am more so. What if some of you ladies will stop to think how it was you married the man you did instead of the other fellow. And examine the circumstances just before this event. You'll be surprised how little you or he had to do with. Think about it the same goes for you gentlemen or maybe married or not. You do a little examining why you are doing today what you are doing why you are employed or how you got the job picture whole. And you're going to be astonished how little you had to do it Lindbergh was not the first man to fly the Atlantic Ocean by any manner of me. But he was there at the right time right place and. Very difficult to convince me that this wasn't fate Don't ask me what fate is that's another thing but Fate brought me to this table. What I call economic fate. Because when I first began flying. Don't you forget my call time. I was all right. We were paid very poorly and so poorly that. I used to for a while. Take people over the movie star's homes and Hollywood and point them out from the sky dollar ride and I would say this is Corinne Rivers I didn't know it was home but it helped. And in me there were long waits between customers sometimes much as all day. So to use the time I would write stories thinking to supplement my income. But fate was not interested I couldn't sell one and I don't know. Boxes full of them. Maybe someday I'll sell them to television that's about where they belong. As things went on however with no story soul and no customers fake to take a hand in I got a job with the largest airlines in the world as a copilot or we were paid the grand total of one hundred dollars a month this required further writing as far as I could see. Especially since the job was had a lot of exercise in it in those days. And if you ever take an airplane again and believe me you know I'm not the one you're going to believe this statement from it's the safest form of transportation ever invented by mankind. Really it just worry about the trip home from a airport. At any rate there was a great deal of physical effort involved in flying those days such as the co-pilot's job was to unload the baggage. And the baggage was back in the tail and you had to crawl all over the passengers those that you didn't hit in the face with your mail in which the law required to be strapped on the side and. You prover a thousand pounds of sandbags that were in the tails of the seat to reason that the thousand pounds and next time you worry about excess weight on a plane think of that was there as the airplane would not fly if it wasn't there so there's been a good bit of progress in that sort of thing and fact we carried railroad tickets as part of the pilot's kit so that when things didn't work out so well we could issue of the Reverend tickets. I still have a few. And I guess there's still some rebel. Now. As to. How fake it was just what brought me here I kept at this writing until. I managed to sell a book. And I rolled another one and then you know what happens sooner or later it's like a monkey pounding on a typewriter if you're betting on long enough and good enough monkeys that we're going to be hit. So I get it and. Now you see like all pilots and authors I guess I'm vain so off until now. I haven't worn my glasses I can hardly see but I put them on now. So that I can reach you know what fate finally did to. Their luncheons are held in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria. Used the Park Avenue entrance and walk straight back to the west elevator take one of the third floor where you will find yourself and what they call the West for you're a guest of honor room just outside the Grand Baro where you meet me there at twelve o'clock sign here read event Dark. Let's put feet thank you I'm going to. Ask. In nineteen fifty six I was interviewing a young American writer just back from Moscow and I asked him at one point which modern American novelists were held in the greatest esteem by the Russian readers. Hemingway and Faulkner he said and Mitchell will say. It was news to him it was news to me but by nine hundred fifty six it was no longer news to Mr Wilson. A few years after his novel Live would like to think I've been published here and not in forty nine he learned that it had been published in Russia. To the Cuban of more than a million copies and without the tune of royalties in rubles when I must go magazine wrote to him expressing its desire to serialize his next novel my brother my enemy with an introduction by the author. Mr Wilson suggested that royalties would be welcome and he received them he is still one of the rare western office but with his new novel meeting at a farm ready and is the only American author who has had a book published simultaneously in Moscow and New York. In his earlier successful novels Mr Wilson is one of the pioneers at making scientists central figures and fiction. In revealing to the reading public that the inhabitants of laboratories were neither mad classical not dry as dust but people whose work may be different from ours but his emotional problems are much the same as those of the rest of us he wrote from experience as a physicist who had worked all started with such giants as Enrico fermion he said or rather meeting at a farm ready and the background for which he obtained by working six months in the laboratories of cosmic ray scientists in the Soviet Union carries on Mr Wilson's purpose of getting the lay man a close understanding of science and scientists beyond this it is an attempt and the needed one to bridge the gap of suspicion and misinterpretation between the peoples of Russia and the United States rituals Thank you. I don't think anyone could be more surprised than I find that I've written a novel about Russian life a few years ago when I can probably first suggested the possibility to. The whole thing saying so impossible it was just no point in discussing the idea it occurred to Ken because he had spoken to John Gunther on his return and Gunther had given had some glimpses of the life of the scientist in the Soviet Union and it seemed to canvas to be an interesting background for a novel. It seemed to me to be the wildest idea I had ever heard and I paid no attention to it several months later Mr Gans fake took a hand and I found myself invited to the Soviet Union this was nine hundred fifty seven as part of a cultural delegation the trip actually in the invitation was of interest because I know I was going to have a stopover in Paris and London and it would be styled to be spent in Moscow but. That would pay for the SAT However when I get a ride in my scout the experience was put it mildly explosive I had really no. Particular advance information on anything about Soviet life I know that. Only that they were a source of additional foreign workers and that was great but beyond that nothing. I had the unique experience when I landed my scout being taken and mediately into Soviet life. I was there on a first time perhaps only two weeks and in that time I must have visited at least a dozen Soviet homes. Writers and scientists and I will never forget the first party that I attended because it showed me that the whole project was possible you say I believe that and said to a certain extent a writer writes the kind of book you would like to read now and I don't think any of us had ever read any book about self it life that was not centered around politics. I had never read a book which showed how the people of Russia got up in the morning what they did for breakfast what has been said to his wife how they how people went to the movies at night what was the formality of calling up somebody and saying what are you doing tonight or tomorrow I went on picnics the whole thing was so seem to make off the automatic and just completely unexplained It was a mystery and I did always want to read a novel about Russian people well I met people and as I say it took me completely off my guard because the enormous mystery was if it were really only human I remember this particular party because. I came to it wanting to drink very very badly it was at the home of the lady who was translated my books then a beautiful job very. Our English is excellent Chad this pleasant apartment and it's been a rough day for me I've had. To give several speeches made a lot of people and I came in dying for a good time for dinner well past I have a drink usually at about five to five thirty and I want it was one drink I arrived at seven thirty I've set a clock went to the living room and small talk and nobody offered me any more time passes to other guests arrive now talk of like a no talking eating anything and I just sat there was beginning to say I'm I supposed to ask but nobody else was asking I said I'll give another five minutes. Five minutes past five more guests arrived and I was just about to say where is a bottle when I had a signal everyone from the living room rose and we went into another room and on this dining room and there on a table which would be about the size of two of these tables it was all of four in all of the can even imagine surrounded by six and that we sat until about three o'clock in the morning. The reason there had been no drink this I discovered was the Russian considered very bad manners indeed to drink without eating and I want to detonate even if you eat a pickle have a mystical faith in the picture you can drink as much as you want but if you be typical arc you come by this will keep yourself now for a nation who sent up Sputniks to believe this which they do passionately and continually find it not working but very happy with this so nonfunctional came as a surprise that this dinner where we sat and ate. There was no talk of politics it was just ordinar