This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Kathryn Hulme, Edward Everett Tanner III, and Arthur Holly Compton
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 71212
Municipal archives id: LT7427
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
That's been you over so many years a gathering as numerous and complex as that we do not have to search far to identify that voice it is most evident to anyone who has ever attended one of these gatherings in past years yet comic reactor in this case is a quiet personality made up of wit patience understanding good tape press of error and faith in the written word that for us is I read of on and off. Way that the American Booksellers Association who have worked with us so closely want to celebrate this twentieth anniversary by presenting Mrs Van Doren with a mentor of special significance quickly bypassing the conventional souvenirs we have decided to entice Syreeta down an avenue of communication other than the printed word we discovered that her loyalty to the book has made her hyun the younger and brassiere medium of television. Was the hope that I reader will embark upon a career of creative and critical viewing to match her years of creative criticism in the land of books. She will help us to make. The American Booksellers. Of the it. Will be delivered. Telling me of wonderful things that I do. With them. As well as in books and that a great many other people I'm told. I want you to come over and see. So many people have taken up. But I know. It's hard to get into this. Our praise speaker today is a most unusual woman and she's written a most unusual book you had let yourself be persuaded by title that it is not for you the story is about all people who are by beautiful writing and moved by the human drama Katharine whom California Bonin bred so she has cherished the desire to write since grade school short stories newspaper reporting a year it Columbia School of Journalism articles for The New York Herald Tribune and The New York Times were a part of her training for some time she was director of advertising for the ask Mr Foster travel service and in that capacity she toured the body state to make sure that her copy was effective also for that agency she traveled in North Africa Egypt Greece Asia Minor and all the countries of Europe except Russia during those years she wrote a novel deservedly forgotten her friend and editor Ted week says and she would agree I believe I. Remember an endearing autobiographical account of a family in San Francisco before the fire hole we lived as children and the book of African travel adventures and sketches then the wall and she became an electric and electric arc welder on the Liberty ship in the Kaiser shipyards garbed in nineteen pounds house high levels of overall isn't very big. In one hundred forty five she left this work to go to Europe on a United Nations assignment one of the twelve man team that was being trained to take care of the captors they were liberated Germany hers was with Bill slacken the wild place in the very end out a center for the reunification of the Polish family it was about her moving experience is how profound the benefit cation of herself with hopes and fears around that she rolled out landed a prize winning book The wild place and it was Iowa that she met and bombed an abiding friendship for an ex nun on her team a friendship that was to change her life. After her years of build blacken six years I believe she came home and the nun not came with her it is this friend whom she calls system Luke and whose story she has told in Mad Men in the compassionate and Noble in the book The nun story many of you by this time have read it and many have read about it the extraordinary appreciative reviews of it having no way resides arrayed in the deep impression it made upon a reflective man in all essential that is based on truth the story of the daughter of a distinguished Belgian surgeon a sell brilliantly and out training not only a new thing works but in practical diseases and psychiatry. These are the seventeen years from her entrance as a postulant into a Belgian Roman Catholic order to have final emergence as the years of doubt and anguish convinced her that though her face was as strong as ever she could no longer control or endure in a disobedience to the rule of order the nun story is by no means an account of a quiet uneventful convent life it is a story of pervasive excitement not only in the thrilling episodes of Sister Luke's Hospital in the Belgian Congo all in her danger. In a sanatorium for the men of the insane always a new thing sister during the German occupation but in her. Solitary struggles about humility and obedience written with and taken for the faith and faith and. It is a completely and. I am truly happy to be able to introduce to you is the capturing. The the. Lover in the. Opening. Because once I start talking and go on others to get. I. Stole something from another writer I feel a beautiful center. Explain how I managed to convey. To summarize the reality unless there is very bright side a line from The Good Ship of Mary Ellen saying she doesn't feel it for any. Team she really rather became But when I was reading one of her books before flying out I came upon them in order to truly understand the experience. One must live. Within And one of them come out side well and as the I said the claim to me. How. To write a story which have. Very. Many people thought I had been done and came to me as if I have a chapter in my life quite a long one and I imagine. All of. People who have had such a deep experience in the religious life that you would rather hear more about how I'd met the person whom I call. And about those days and of anything else I thought quite a few minutes I might tell you. What does not appear. However and I never in a beaten down no two. Where there were two or three thousand people who had been assembled there by the United Nations relief organization. From the thirty five perhaps more countries contributing both money and labor the cause of refugees up of the war in ninety five actually I didn't need it I stepped over every time I rushed to the mess at the call of the bell I stepped over the proffered figure line. Camp. Wondering also why this woman choose the spot next to no one with clever American corner where you have little protection you could even hang up your things there by the door rather pale and weary we were teamed up after some time to go forward into Germany and I was the director that was quite a high ranking. And I chose to go out and the French director as I wrote about in the wild places so we went down we saw these names on the bulletin board we had a deputy director the director and the M.M.S. thing in the transport and the welfare office and so on and nurse and I saw the nurse the name and dungeon and then we met and I looked them all over and I said to my director I prided myself on these low what California high school friends in which I spoke but it was really quite often. And I said I think the team Olive's when. Except for the murders I think this is the week element we talked about elements of the bodies You see I think this is the week the element. And he said but why what well you haven't seen her in action Well I said you know she sleeps all the times in there I've never seen her in the mess she's simply street. Body said you know. Actually she slept all the time because she had emerged from her seventeen years a religious life the fall before that in the late forty's or and it spent the winter in the R. Devon with a British medical surgical collar digging our own eyes out of this many of whom had been booby trapped as happened that. Digging in her own digging the allied soldiers out as a captain in charge we only knew her as it happened out of a Belgian English. So this was wife was really very tired when in the spring the following summer she had just been ordered to this organization as a finale to this I should add that of that she. One year later there were exactly three survivors of the original twenty you climbed into the motor truck on the sharable finance of us and rode forward into Germany and to this unknown land of the and the free where the French director the Belgian nurse and myself so she had the survival quality. How does one come to write a story which seems like the private life of someone how do you get this material in all those winters in Germany always either this Belgian nurses whom in the wild plays I call she she sort of just comes reading Leaves through what you see already the use was working in me then and the interest of I had I had four hundred years of problems there's a look at this person I had to learn early that she had been a nun that was not precisely a shame but a sorrow that she had not been able to live up to this life according to the dictates of her own conscience as it should be her I know nothing about the half million women who are numbers in convents on the face of the Roman Catholic I only know one but I think if you know one perfectly perhaps it isn't a reflection of them all but it's enough for me I was working in small campuses but as completely as you can and as I came to know her story many many questions that I had experienced or I have posed to myself. And I saw this life. Well let's say as a sort of perfect Big through the religious experience I was interested in that too but from through another means. So in the winter night she would tell me about it and I often said Well of course we in America are we there's no terrific shame of course and so we're not a predominantly Catholic country people fail we fail in marriage I don't take any pride in the failures of marriage and the fact that in some circles divorce is raw but. Still that's a bow and that's broken and I try to tell her it isn't a thing that should weigh well of any race we went through the windows and I would say Now tell me some more about this the more you see this material was laid in the midst of six years but meanwhile I have the wild place just here I was going to go back and I was going to tell America about these D.P.'s and I was just get the congressman do the work I did what I was going to do but I was quite frantic about the wreckage when I came back but the nun was in there all the time and had been for six years and then when finally the wild place was written. And it's been accepted by one of the great great editors of our country by Sherry. When I flew back to go through a little fanfare for this and it was also my comeback in writing all those warriors overseas and we were the one who we call sister looks at what what are you going to tell him if what's the next book. Well while I said I have a whole pocket full of ideas you know I've got a lot of time. And then to my joy and she said Why don't you what would you think would you like to write my story and then I knew that their help I had tried to give or that there was no shame you didn't have to go around you fail in the bow but on the other hand that you didn't have to go around craven and bend over with this so I said that I will do and you will help me and so that was how it was when I saw him as the weeks of the times of the wild plays publication I told him about and I said one thing which sounded like vainglory at the time but which much later when the book came out was picked up and especially by one of the ranking Catholic reviewers far the God in America that just would weakly published here in New York but I said maybe I didn't say it to Mr weeks but I certainly said my age and I said I don't believe any nun can really write her own story because the training is such that the sense of self is removed from you the sense of any drama in your life is removed you're someone used to not the putting your cell phone but of seeing this in any way except a very ordinary light I said this I was really ready to eat my words many times after that but I said I have a former nun and I have lived her story now for more than eight years just all here. And I do know that I said the best awakes I'll run in the Congo I was a man this is how you live when you are excited about material and you must love your material at least I must to write a letter that came about so that is where I met my chief character who is a real person and who is happily working today in America who has become American citizen and continuing her nursing work in the state of California I think that I have just given you the beginning and the end or shall I say the bracket in which my story the story that I thank you very much I'll ulna. Every time out. Was Born in Chicago forty five years ago he never went to college instead he worked in a bookstore as a bookstore clerk folks alum educational books during the war the American Field Service took charge of him for two years in Egypt Lebanon Syria Italy and Africa he was in France with British Australian South Africa New Zealand Greek polish and French. He was twice removed it lightly he says and I'm the perfect circumstances he was driving an ambulance. After the War He served a term as account executive at the Franklin's advertising agency was advertising manager of a publishing the late Creative Age press am until January first nineteen fifty six promoted the welfare of Foreign Affairs the distinguished quarterly magazine of the Council on Foreign Relations then he retired from business he claims that he likened being a Scotch gin coffee mill reading writing eating long hair music and going to the barber which he does every Wednesday at noon. He likes giving and going to smallish parties never more than fourteen composed of people who don't do anything with a capital D.. Like this like the other people here it's maybe a little unfortunate for him to say that. All the time in large groups cocktail party light and room and crowded subway he doesn't like the country a lot. Like public speaking and cycling and liqueurs fat exercise. And television. That's a little hard on me now. Why all of this about and whatever it can out. You will understand why and why he is here today if you think of him as the genuine role on. What a wonderful wedding house party and a loving couple. Dennis' there was just with her and I. And now a few statistics and then on the bestseller charts for three weeks eighty six weeks now a play of the same written by the same author will be produced on Broadway on October thirty first. After what the. And the unprecedented a bad. One A brothers is making a picture out of. Death row to hoe written with the owner of the dude ranch it celebrates has been a best seller since publication day it also is scheduled for Broadway production in one thousand nine hundred fifty seven the loving couple the most recent of the three hit the best seller list a week after publication and already under contract for a motion picture it is breathtaking and. Books by the marks of Mr Tanner's lively imagination and sense of. All in one degree or another are loaded with incident the incide