NYT interviews Rick Perlstein about his book

tags: Rick Perlstein, The Invisible Bridge



The author, most recently, of “The Invisible Bridge,” would like Chekhov to write his life story. “Sometimes I think he knows me better than I know myself, even when he’s ostensibly writing about Russian ladies over a hundred years ago.”

What books are currently on your night stand?

Do people still read before bed? I play Words With Friends. Be that as it may, the book that’s been most monopolizing my attentions is the massive chronicle by the conservative movement activist Craig Shirley on the campaign that elected our 40th president, “Rendezvous With Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign that Changed America.” Also (though not a book; they’re online) I’ve been reading all the “Doonesbury” strips from the fall of 1976 through January of 1980, seriatim. I once heard that Anthony Trollope, after writing the last page of a novel, would immediately whip out a new sheet to start writing the next. I suppose that’s what I’m doing with these books I’ve been writing on the history of conservatism — “The Invisible Bridge,” which tells the story through the summer of 1976, is the third, and now I’m starting in on the fourth and last, which goes through November 1980.

What was the last truly great book you read? 

A volume of Chekhov’s short stories. I don’t read many popular histories like the ones I write. The building blocks for my research are scholarly monographs, and the inspiration for my storytelling style are folks like Chekhov. His masterful long short story “A Woman’s Kingdom,” about a forlorn heiress saddled against her will with the job of running the family business, precisely exemplifies what I’m aiming to accomplish in my history writing: to sympathetically reimagine the points of view of people from all genders, ideologies and social identities...




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