I’ve expressed my discomfort with biographies and memoirs before, but I will read this one. Studs Terkel is one of the great American heroes, and it’s a joy to know that he’s still kicking and still putting out books at a faster pace than, say, Jeffrey Eugenides. Alternet interviews him on the eve of his 95th birthday, and on the cusp of the publication of Touch and Go, his first–and, says Terkel, only–memoir. A taste:
So this is your life story, finally.
There’s an ironic, and very funny, secret to my success: my ineptitude, mechanically. I can’t use a machine, or drive a car. And I make mistakes on the tape recorder. Now the tape recorder was important to two Americans, I think, more than anyone else. To myself and Dick Nixon. I call Dick Nixon and me the New Cartesians, as in Descartes [Rene Descartes, the 17th century philosopher and mathematician]. The Latin phrase is cogito ergo sum–“I think, therefore I am.” In the case of Dick Nixon and me, it’s, “I tape, therefore I am.”
Incidentally, The Onion’s A.V. Club conducted a long 2003 interview with the man.
UPDATE: Fellow Chicago boy Roger Ebert wishes Studs a happy birthday.