Television is a powerful medium and yet one rarely sees fiction authors on it, not non-fiction authors, but fiction authors. This explains why Philip Roth isn’t as popular as Paris Hilton (not to mention he may not be as cute — arguably). Still, despite not receiving the widespread promotion that TV offers, fiction is discovered anyway. People find good books, read them, tell friends about them and make the sales and popularity of certain books soar. I sometimes wonder how high fiction sales would soar if it had just a little slice of television promotion on its side.
Of course, as long as the recreational activity of reading must compete with watching movies or playing Rock Band, it will fair poorly in America. But before I descend into griping about the intelligence of the average American or fiction not getting its media coverage due, I want to point out a resource that actually promotes a lot of fiction: The Charlie Rose Show.
This is an hour-long PBS show where journalist Charlie Rose converses with not only authors but scientists, musicians, athletes, political leaders and anyone else who’s doing something important and worth examining in the world. The guests are varied, the topics timely. Rose is always well prepared and is a kind interviewer, offering generous time to his interviewees.
The handiest thing is the show’s website. It features this amazing, crazy-comprehensive video archive of what seems to be every interview dating back to the mid 1990s. A user can watch a conversation with Dave Brubeck from 1994 or Arthur Ashe from 1996 or David Ho from 1997 or Al Gore from 2000 and on and on. It sort of blows my mind how many fascinating segments are available, all free, all of which are categorized by topic and searchable by name or date.
I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve spent more than one evening hopping from author interview to author interview, which are usually anywhere from ten minutes long to thirty or forty. I like that Rose not only promotes fiction by putting writers on television, but explores the works in depth, discussing characters, setting, the writer’s background, inspiration, work habits, etc. Clearly, he respects the art of fiction, which in turn compels me to promote the art of his interviews.