The Recurring Themes In Jim Lehrer's Novels
Jim Lehrer, anchor on "The News Hour With Jim Lehrer", says he writes about people fighting like hell to be successful.
Question: What are the recurring themes in your work?
Jim Lehrer: There’s no connecting theme to my novels. They're mostly -- I try to, in
fact, usually not to do that. It’s whatever I want to do, I do.
Sometimes there are comics. There are several comic novels where nothing bad happens
to anybody. And then there are some real tragic novels that started out to be something
less, something different than they were. They ended up being something different than
they were when they started.
But most of my recent novels are about people whose lives have not turned out the way
they hoped they would and had to deal with it. Some of them have dealt with them in
kind of strange ways. One of them recently, the guy decided just to remake himself as a
former Marine, claimed that he won a Silver Star in Vietnam for heroism. He’d never
been in the military. But he got on eBay and got a little lapel pin, a Silver Star medal to
wear. He was a clothing salesman, a man in his 50s and he remade himself. He got trim,
learned how to cuss really well, do all the things that Marines do and to be something that
And I’ve written a couple of novels along that line. And I’m working on one right now,
in fact, where a kid wanted to be something he just couldn’t be. And this one is about
baseball and other things.
So it is -- I think probably, those kinds -- I hadn’t thought about it to this moment, but it
may go back to those early days from the Depression and World War II and all of those
things --and my father was a really good man. One of the really best people I’ve ever
known. But he was not “successful”. He had one little business. He had a little bus line
in Kansas. It went bankrupt after a year. Crushed him. He never ever got over it. And
he never got the big promotions and all that sort of stuff. And I think that left kind of a
“Death of a Salesman” -- that was kind of a coding of Arthur Miller’s play over me I
think sometimes. I’ve read it many times. I’ve seen it many times.
I have a lot of friends who are contemporaries of mine. I’m now much older than some
of these guys were, but -- who reached their mid 50s, worked very hard to become the
Managing Editor, to become the boss, to become whatever, and they didn’t make it. And
they had to finally accept the fact that they weren’t ever going to make it. And that’s
crushing. That’s a really tough thing if you’ve lived your whole life toward making it.
That was it! That was what you were going to do no matter what it was going to be and
I’m fascinated by that and I’m sure it’s because of my dad and it’s because of those early
days. And so my fiction is full of that kind of stuff -- of people wanting to be -- trying
like hell to be successful.
The Recurring Themes In Jim Lehrer's Novels
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