"I couldn't agree more. But I wrote it in two ways. It's a fast-rushing river. And if you want to read it like it's some damn movie, you can do that. Of course, you miss the undercurrent, and the undercurrent is what's driving the river. If you're willing to make the investment, there's a lot more there for you. But I think it more rewards experienced and astute readers than it requires it.
"They did an audio book of it. To do the audio book, they had to reduce this book by two-thirds. So they're throwing out entire plots, and yet when you hear the whole script, you realize its purpose. It can work that way. So obviously I hope everybody reads the book twice. I really do. But I don't think if they don't, they get nothing. I just don't think they get the full meal."
"There's a point, early in the book, when the reader seems to enter the book. It's that 'Looking Glass' experience -- you turn around and you're in the action."
"That's why there are no judgments made in the narration. And no adjectives; physical descriptions, sure, but it doesn't say 'Rufus was a good-hearted person.' There's nothing like that. You can make up your own mind, so wherever you choose to enter this book, my hope is that you enter it as part of the surveillance team."
"The surveillance business is wonderful."
"It's wonderful if people get it."
"One thing that you do in all your novels is that you get the details right. If the gun is supposed to shoot an elephant, you bring the elephant-shooting gun."
"I do. But that's much more a matter of experience. You want to do it right in a book like this. I'm desperately trying to make the reader rethink the history that he or she's been taught. What you're doing is this: taking known historical fact, of which there's no dispute, and historical fact that should be known, but in fact, largely isn't, and you're blending them in a way that, if I did it right, you come up with a plausible explanation. So, if you look at the Al Capone thing, it would have served the federal government, specifically the FBI, very poorly had Al Capone been gunned down or stabbed to death in prison."
"Capone would have been another mythological, legendary-status gangster, who lived fast and died young. Capone humiliated them so many times. He humiliated them in the Cook County Jail, and he absolutely humiliated them when he was sent to Atlanta, because the guards were working for them. He had what he wanted. He had chateaubriand in jail. They needed a way for him to come down that would absolutely make of him a public mockery. Most think when Al Capone was released from prison he was in his 60s. He was 40. That's when he was released from prison."
"And he went to Florida?"
"It didn't matter where he went, because the point is, if he hadn't come out of prison with syphilis, he would have stepped right back into a leadership role. But now, watching him as this battling old man, this incontinent, helpless human, the FBI got much more what it wanted. So if you take that, and you take the fact that there certainly was a Tuskegee Experiment [the infamous syphilis experiment conducted by the federal government on Southern blacks], it can make you wonder. But, again, do you think the average person reading this book is going to know that? No."
"They're not going to know who Emmett Till is; they're going to think Emmett Till is a fictional character."
"Why did you think about Emmett Till?"
"I never stop thinking about Emmett Till, that's why. I remember when I was just a couple of years younger than he was. I remember it hitting me like a punch in the heart. First, I didn't believe it. And then as I got older, of course, the William Bradford Huie story came out. I read that, and I've never forgotten it. Not to this day. But I never believed that those two humanoids were the only people involved in that boy's killing. So this is my chance to say it."
"When you first learned that Emmett Till had been murdered and how, what was the response of the grown-up world around you?"
"There was no grown-up world because in a culture where there's no world, there's just a million worlds. Blacks reacted differently than whites. Upper-middle-class intellectual whites reacted differently than working-class whites, you see? There just
wasn't a universal reaction to it. When you have a New York politician getting outraged about a kid being lynched in Mississippi, you understand that he's pandering to a black constituency in New York.
"What I want people to do when they read the book is go, 'How can you make this crap up?' And then I want people to do a little bit of looking. And then they're going to go, 'Hmm, wait a minute, if this is true and that's true -- maybe?' You see?"
"Two Trains Running certainly will make readers interested in the validity of the history that they've been taught in school."
"That's exactly what I want to do. Because to me, as far as I'm concerned, history that is available publicly is like trying to convince a Cherokee that Columbus discovered America. It's really that gross. I think that I've been proven right, long before the book came out. Look at the recent revelations about the Bush Administration literally owning press people.
"And it's not just this administration. One of the things that I'm most bitter about is anything to do with African genocide, having seen it firsthand. Rwanda was never called genocide by the Clinton Administration. One of the points of this book is that it's not Republicans and Democrats. It's rulers and ruled."
"It's class more than color."
"It's absolutely class more than color. And it's a microcosm for what happens internationally. If you can get tribalism to run amok that's how -- in Nigeria, for instance -- you sit there and reap the oil.