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Bryan Burrough Q&A #8

Posted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 12:05 pm
by Liz
ONBC: I like the way you started the book with the prologue about the so-called gangster in Spain. I spent the whole book trying to figure out who that might be when, poof! It came through at the end. Mr. Burrough, did you ever get to meet or speak with Karpis before he died? If so, what was the conversation like? Did you write that prologue from that conversation?

Bryan Burrough: I wrote the prologue based on conversations with Karpis’ ghostwriter, who visited him in Spain before his death in 1979. Karpis died the year I got out of high school, so no, no interview!

Posted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 12:13 pm
by teacher
What strange life that must have been! I kept thinking about that - after the hardships, but also the excitement of the life in the book, ending up like a half-joke for the villagers in Spain. Wonder how real his memories were at the time they were recorded and how much was a result of mentally reliving it all after so many years?

Posted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 7:35 pm
by gemini
I was fascinated by Karpis because early on in the book I suspected that the unknown old man was him.
I refused to let myself peek and it was worth it when I found out for sure in the end. I wasn't positive but knew before reading the book that most of the Public Enemies did not survive. I thought it might end up being someone lesser known that I wasn't aware of but I started rooting for Karpis as I read because I so wanted one of them to survive to old age.

The one thing that was not as I had imagined was that he spent his time in prison. I had the idea the way they always talked of leaving the country that he was smart enough to do it before he got caught. If I had thought it through, it should have dawned on me that any one who met Charles Manson and Al Capone must have been in prison. Then when I realized the truth I wondered why he lived in another county after prison since he was then free.

It was a very clever idea to introduce and end the book with the one PE that survived to make it out of the country. It also kept everyone reading after John Dillingers death. I really am glad that Karpis's ghost writer was around to interview.

Re: Bryan Burrough Q&A #8

Posted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 10:56 pm
by nebraska
Bryan Burrough[/u]: I wrote the prologue based on conversations with Karpis’ ghostwriter, who visited him in Spain before his death in 1979. Karpis died the year I got out of high school, so no, no interview!


That really puts the time line in focus for me. And it highlights the difficulty of the research.

In some ways the PE era seems so close , but it is truly a long, long time ago. How interesting it would have been to be able to meet and talk with Karpis! When I figure out how to make more hours in the day and more days in the week :banghead:, I want to read his book. But I am still finishing the Dillinger book and then I have the Hoover book.......and I am sure the next ONBC selection will be announced soon.

Re: Bryan Burrough Q&A #8

Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 6:42 am
by suec
nebraska wrote:Bryan Burrough[/u]: I wrote the prologue based on conversations with Karpis’ ghostwriter, who visited him in Spain before his death in 1979. Karpis died the year I got out of high school, so no, no interview!


That really puts the time line in focus for me. And it highlights the difficulty of the research.

In some ways the PE era seems so close , but it is truly a long, long time ago. How interesting it would have been to be able to meet and talk with Karpis!


Ditto, nebraska. 1979 was the year I left school, too and my parents were born in 1933 and 1934, so it does really seem so close and yet so far.
It was said that history is written by the victors. With Karpis, it is written by a survivor, which is fascinating.
I also was hooked by the prologue and was eagerly anticipating who it might be. It was an excellent way to begin the book.

Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 10:09 am
by DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
Karpis was definitely had the instincts of a survivor so it made sense to open and close with his story. He was not as sympathetic a character as Dillinger and in fact he was somewhat pathetic at the end trying to relive his fame when no one cared anymore who he was.

(nebraska, our next selection is The Diving Bell and the Butterfly!)

Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 10:34 am
by stroch
"he was somewhat pathetic at the end trying to relive his fame when no one cared anymore who he was. "

I think that is the common fate of people who survive into old age. With few exceptions, strangers don't really care about what you did a few decades ago, or how famous you were, or who you knew.

All they see is a creepy old person with hairs in his nose.

Sorry, that is really cynical. Obviously, he had a girlfriend, and people interviewing him and the like. I like to think he was content, if only because he WAS a survivor.

Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 12:10 pm
by Parlez
I agree - sometimes being the last man standing isn't all it's cracked up to be. Like, who cares? On the rare occasions when someone feigns interest in your particular piece of the past it's only natural to embellish, edit out, rewrite and/or invent, just to keep them there listening. On the other hand, Karpis truly was part of a very unique era. So the gap between fact and fiction is probably a moot point, since, as we know, the facts read a lot like fiction.

Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 12:49 pm
by gemini
You ladies are reminding me of one of the things I like about Johnny. He befriends people of all ages and seems only interested in how they lived their lives not how old they look. The photo of Johnny with Ginsberg comes to mind. I also thought it was grand the time he spent with the Taraf de Haidouks during and after making The Man Who Cried. He seems very at home with people of other generations.
It seems to add to his fascination for the 20's and 30's era. Just a thought, but if he had the chance he would probably be hanging on every word if he could speak to any of the old survivors, nose hairs on not. :lol: :grin:

Posted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 12:49 am
by Lady Jill
Wow! Here's the question that interested me, for sure. . .and me finally getting back here after my "extra Movie shoot" in Reno for Love Ranch. ( That's another story completely! Anyone who truly wants to know whats it like to be "in" a movie, PM me. What an experience!! ) I didn't even realize the questions were pouring forth!

33 Years in prison, and on the Rock I think I read. That is a long time to be locked away. I can see his angry response to the ghostwriter.

And what a great "letter" about us on the Zone, from Mr. Burroughs!
Thank you!