Michael Silverblatt, host of KCRW’s Bookworm, talks to the Los Angeles City Beat about L.A. literary culture, his reading habits, and the idea that arguing is impolite (“3rd Degree: Michael Silverblatt,” by Rebecca Epstein):
You are known for being able to impress your guests with your critical acumen. Have you ever been stumped or totally taken off balance by one of them in return?
Somehow or other the idea that argument is impolite has come up. It’s sort of like, why fight with people whose opinion you already know? But America, to be lofty, was once a place where everything was discussed – politically correct or not – and we talked with enormous belief that the conversation could change the listener. But if we’re not used to starting with incomprehension, then passion as informed talk doesn’t take hold. People aren’t swayed.
Norman Mailer had done me the great favor of calling me the best reader in America. It was amazing. Also, his publisher had told me that Norman had given explicit instructions not to schedule two things on the same day that he would talk to me, because he really enjoyed talking to me, but it wore him out. This was because I’m not afraid anymore, and we would argue.
(From Likely Stories stringer Frank Sennett.)