Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Bill Minutaglio's Book on Molly Ivins Hits Bookstores!
Please make sure to go to your local bookstore and check out Bill Minutaglio's definitive biography about "one of the most provocative, courageous, and influential journalists in American history," "Molly Ivins: A Rebel Life."
It can also be ordered on Amazon.com:
As a matter of full disclosure, let me say that Bill is one of my best friends and has been for decades, a truly kind and generous man. He's also, without question, one of country's best journalists, as well as an utterly dazzling writer. I only wish I could put words together the way Bill does. He makes every sentence sing!
Bill sent me this about the book:
Molly Ivins was, for a while, the most powerful woman in journalism—and she was one of the toughest, most tragic, women in America.
She had enormous power and influence: Presidents, senators and royalty called her. She appeared in over 300 newspapers, had huge national bestselling books, was on 60 Minutes, Letterman and Leno. She had millions of followers. She punched men out in Texas—and once knocked George W. Bush's most important political partner to his knees in a bar in Austin. She rode motorcycles—and could drink any man under the table. She eventually became a profoundly high-functioning alcoholic - in and out of rehab, causing a ruckus around major political figures (like Nancy Pelosi), and managing through it all to write for every major magazine and news outlet imaginable. Her work was compared to Mark Twain, Rabelais and Mencken.
She broke open the doors for Maureen Dowd, Arianna Huffington, Gail Collins and almost any other woman who wanted to have an opinion column in America. She suffered death threats and bomb scares. She raised millions of dollars for civil liberties and other causes across America. She personally supported hundreds of people over the life of her career—she gave away, in the end, millions of her own dollars, to strangers, friends, the homeless. She was unfathomably generous.
And, her entire life was defined by her relationship with her father -- who was the autocratic, racist, head of Tenneco, one of the most powerful energy corporations in the world. She grew up in unbridled affluence, she grew up as friends with George W Bush, she attended the finest private schools in America and studied in France -- and she rejected all of it to become of the most fiercely liberal voices in American history. She lived with one of the most radical activists in America, she was engaged to be married to a wealthy man who wanted to start a "master race”—and Hollywood producers continually talked to her about making a movie of her life.
There really was never a figure like Molly Ivins. And there will probably never be. She was like Amelia Earhart meets Annie Oakley.
Her story was one that needed to be told—it was so intensely narrative (which explains, I believe, why those producers, screenwriters and directors were wanting to make that movie based on her life). She fought sexism at every turn in her life. She lived large, fought hard and told the top editor of The New York Times to fuck off. And just when she seemed ready to beat back her raging, drunken nightmares, she was hit with cancer. She battled three wicked bouts of cancer.
And through it all, she laughed her ass off, spoke truth to power, gave away even more money -- and never stopped working. Her friends—Maya Angelou, Dan Rather, Willie Nelson, Ann Richards, Bill Clinton—marveled at her stamina. And when she died there were enormous memorial services around the country, including ones in New York City and Texas.
For a narrative story teller, Ivins's story was inevitable. There were so many breathtaking twists and turns in her life. I knew her a bit and knew some of her story. But not all of it. It simply became richer, more intense, as I researched it.
With one of her former researchers, we worked on the book for 18 months. We did research across America. We delved into her personal archives, her diaries (including scalding, intense ones where she talks about her fight with alcohol, her lovers, her fights with the most powerful people in American publishing and politics), her personal letters. She was the most profound self-chronicler imaginable, and we had access to hundreds of thousands of documents, papers, letters, touching on almost every aspect of her and her family's personal history.
I learned that, when you weigh Molly Ivins in historic context, her story is a grand, outsized American saga. She was often "the only woman in the room"—and she fought like holy hell to be heard, to be respected, to change things for the good of America. She was a trailblazer and a firebrand. Again, to say she lived large is really an understatement.