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Discussing the book "Charlie boy" with Peter Feibleman

BROADCAST: Jun. 7, 1980 | DURATION: 00:46:10

Synopsis

Discussing the book "Charlie boy" with Peter Feibleman.

Transcript

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Studs Terkel Peter Feibleman writes to me very exciting novels, but they're multidimensional. His new book is called "Charlie Boy," and it's about, it's a detective story really, suspense story, involving a killer roaming the streets of New Orleans. Now, this may seem like just a traditional one to you, but it isn't. It's far more than that. It's a study of certain characters, people, and a city, and corruption and public hysteria. And it's quite a remarkable book. He was a guest before, the excellent work called "The Columbus Tree." Again, it deals too -- well, we can talk about that, Peter, Mr. Feibleman, the idea of the exotic too, the different, the strange, that in a sense is familiar too. Little, Brown the publishers of "Charlie Boy," and Peter Feibleman my guest, we'll talk about it in a moment after this message. [pause in recording]

Studs Terkel As you might call that traditional New Orleans jazz

Peter Feibleman Indeed.

Studs Terkel And of course we think of New Orleans, we outside New Orleans, think of it as the city, as one of the quote unquote "cradles of jazz," we think of it as the city of delight, food

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel Creole culture, admixture of various societies

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel But you know New Orleans. You yourself live there

Peter Feibleman I grew up

Studs Terkel You've seen other things as well.

Peter Feibleman It used to be called "Sin City" in, in the south. It's a little Catholic polyp in the otherwise Protestant Bible Belt, and Spanish and French Creoles kind of made it. And it's begi-- it has not much industry left since the, since the Civil War, it's mostly now tourism, so it's built on that. The strange thing about it to me growing up was that it's a city where violence lurks always just underneath the skin of things. And in the last 20 years in other cities all over the world violence has popped up and people have been surprised. I don't think anybody was very surprised in New Orleans. It was always there. I remember when I grew up there was a girl my age who was a society girl, Queen of Comus, which is big, big stuff in New Orleans. Comus is the oldest of the Mardi Gras krewes, and she had two sisters, all three beautiful girls. Two younger sisters they were. They had everything going for them, they were considered society, they had money, they were beautiful, they were fun. All three married men who committed suicide, and everybody was a little surprised but not really surprised. New Orleans breeds that kind of

Studs Terkel Because you're talking also we come of course to your novel.

Peter Feibleman Yeah.

Studs Terkel That is set in New Orleans and we get to know a city, the underbelly of a city.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel As well as what we as visitors and tourists and conventioneers know.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel But you said, you said something a moment ago, that in the midst of what is a Protestant, a Baptist primarily, Bible Belt

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel You have a something exotic in a sense, a Catholic

Peter Feibleman It is indeed exotic. It has, it has always had that, and lives on it a little bit. Again, just under the exotic that is presented to the tourism group, is true. Is a kind of true exotic quality in terms of weather, in terms of the way people think and move and behave and feel, it's, it's a strange, and when I keep going back. You leave New Orleans, but it's one of the places you take with you.

Studs Terkel You know, Peter, as you're talking, the very opening you have a little introduction, and you speak. You said the weather. It was a hot and crazy season.

Peter Feibleman Yeah.

Studs Terkel The first of three, and then -- this is little introduction to the book. There's a the report in the paper, somewhere a sentence somewhere in the back, about a certain murder that occurred, and then another one. Right.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel Suppose you tell it.

Peter Feibleman It's -- what happens in the novel is that there is a killer on the loose. At first, a couple of murders are reported and buried in the back of the newspapers. They are in New Orleans, because nobody wants a threat to tourism; hotels don't, restaurants don't. And the city as I say runs mainly on that. So the reports are buried. Little by little he becomes famous. His -- somebody writes in to the newspaper and identifies himself as Charlie Boy, which is the title of the novel, and of the killer. And the city is strangely kind of proud to have a killer in residence.

Studs Terkel A perverse pride.

Peter Feibleman Yeah, kind of perverse pride. Suddenly the Son of Sam and the Boston Strangler aren't such big stuff anymore, we have one too.

Studs Terkel You know, as you say this, I might as tell you about Chicago, it's a feeling I have about other Chicagoans, and through the years, you know, Chicago out throughout the world ever since Al Capone and of the Prohibition days and the gang killings in the streets. Moran, Bugs Moran and of course St. Valentine's Day and Al Capone, for years, you know, when you say Chicago in the European countries they "boom-boom," you know.

Peter Feibleman Yeah.

Studs Terkel The fact is, many Chicagoans do take a perverse pride in it.

Peter Feibleman Here too.

Studs Terkel Deep down I think so. I think this may be a human attribute.

Peter Feibleman Yes, I'm sure it is. I guess we all, we all -- there is a kind of perversity and pride of any kind I suppose. But in this, by the way, was took off from an actual event. There was a killer in New Orleans. I lived down there for about a year and a half about four years ago, and I'd never lived in the French Quarter before except as a child until 5.

Studs Terkel That, what's it called, that's called the Quarter, isn't

Peter Feibleman It's called the Quarter in New Orleans.

Studs Terkel Everyone knows that's the

Peter Feibleman "Vieux Carre" is known around town just as "the Quarter." It is in -- it's literally a misnomer to call it even a French Quarter, it burned down under the Spanish crown and was rebuilt. It's more Spanish than French in architecture, but the Quarter is a confined area downtown, and a great many tourists go there and there was a killer talked about and quickly un-talked

Studs Terkel By the way, that Quarter that is New Orleans has its opposite number in almost every large city. There it's known because of the French Quarter we call it, but Chicago would have had something called Old Town and New Town, New York has the Village.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel For that matter

Peter Feibleman -- There's a Bohemian

Studs Terkel -- Munich has Schwabing

Peter Feibleman That's

Studs Terkel That's area, and every, and London has -- it's a tinsel kind of place.

Peter Feibleman That's right. It's a raunchy, tinsel, bohemian place is right.

Studs Terkel And this is New Orleans, so this is the -- your, but this guy, Charlie Boy, Charlie Breux, really he wants to be recognized. This -- we don't know whether this guy did it or not in the beginning.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel He says, "Look at me. Hey!"

Peter Feibleman He himself takes pride in what he's doing. Actually what he does is to write in and claim, as a great many people do, responsibility for killings he never -- he never did or knew about. And in order to prove his right to the title, commits a couple. What I mean by him is that kind of psychopath. Oh, I suppose any of us under the age of five would be that kind of psychopath, before you learn you shouldn't do that.

Studs Terkel He also is a loser. But we'll come to Charlie. He is a loser all his life.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel And even the killings. There isn't hardly anything he finds.

Peter Feibleman Is exactly right. He's,

Studs Terkel The wallet is empty, the purse is empty.

Peter Feibleman He's a guy out to get himself, I think a great many -- one of the reasons I happen not to believe in capital punishment is that I think a great many killers are, are out to get caught and killed as much as to kill. So I don't think it helps, and I think Charlie is a professional loser in that sense, Charlie Breux.

Studs Terkel Your book, by the way, this powerful, very suspenseful novel tells about New Orleans and about people themselves. It also is a story about hysteria,

Peter Feibleman Yes, it is indeed.

Studs Terkel A city's -- it could be a society's hysteria.

Peter Feibleman Right. It's a city in siege, really, it's -- once the news of Charlie Boy gets out, New Orleans becomes a city in siege in "Charlie Boy," in the novel, because everybody's out to get him. The police are, the syndicate is, everybody wants him because he's in everybody's way.

Studs Terkel You have a marvelous sequence. Wait a minute, we'll come to the characters in a minute, the principal, the protagonists of it. A certain guy, a doctor who is visiting

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel A member of a medical convention, a little Black kid named E.L.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel Sitwell and Charlie himself, these are the three central figures pretty much.

Peter Feibleman They are indeed.

Studs Terkel There's other we'll talk about them. But your book deals with the underneath part. You said the syndicate and the respectables and the police.

Peter Feibleman Everybody.

Studs Terkel Because they -- because the syndicate is involved in a lot of the

Peter Feibleman Hotels, restaurants, sure.

Studs Terkel Nightlife. Hotels, restaurants, prostitution, whatever else it might be there.

Peter Feibleman Yes, that's right. Everybody is scared of somebody who is a threat to tourism.

Studs Terkel Because the tourists are the source, and as a result of Charlie Boy some conventions have cancelled, too.

Peter Feibleman Conventions have begun to cancel, and he's become a major threat. If one convention goes, it's the domino business. They all

Studs Terkel It's remarkable how your book, and it's a different way, parallels in a way this theme of the great pre-Hitler German film, "M," that first I remember Peter Lorre, Lang, Fritz Lang's film "M" that dealt with a child murderer.

Peter Feibleman Yes.

Studs Terkel Peter Lorre plays this role, and they want to get him because the whole city, this whole German city's in -- and so the hoodlums

Peter Feibleman Yeah.

Studs Terkel The gangsters work with the police together try to get this guy.

Peter Feibleman That's what happens in

Studs Terkel --- And so here it is. Yeah.

Peter Feibleman Yeah. It's the same, it's the same situation. He's a threat to everybody. Everybody lives off

Studs Terkel Well, he's a commercial threat.

Peter Feibleman That's it. That's the, that's the big one.

Studs Terkel So we come to, here we come, there's a man named Josiah Moment. He's a guy -- now -- you.

Peter Feibleman There's a, the story is about a doctor, a New England Puritan by nature who's never thought very much about himself or his life, as most of us haven't, and who goes to his first convention, to a medical convention in New Orleans, and finds himself in a surfacely exotic world and then examines it a little bit and finds out that just under the surface is a really exotic world. And becomes entangled in what is going on in terms of Charlie Boy, of the threat to the city, of a killer on the loose. Becomes more and more interested in it, learns about it, and learns -- begins to learn about himself, about what his life has been like back in Boston, what his wife thinks of him, what he thinks of himself. He -- his life and Charlie Boy's life coincide and become tangled together.

Studs Terkel This guy, this Doctor Moment, pretty good doctor.

Peter Feibleman Yeah.

Studs Terkel Is a guy who's considered dull by everybody.

Peter Feibleman That's

Studs Terkel He's not a puritanical guy. It's just never occurred to him do -- what considered non-respectable things.

Peter Feibleman That's

Studs Terkel But he's mostly a dull guy. His wife finds him dull, she has a friend he -- becomes slowly aware of that, that his friend is his wife's lover. But that's not the important thing to him. Is that even his parents and others when he walks into a room

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel "Oh God, here he comes."

Peter Feibleman That's right, exactly.

Studs Terkel He's a dull guy, and he's beginning to realize something missing.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel In himself and his life, isn't it?

Peter Feibleman Exactly.

Studs Terkel Through this

Peter Feibleman And it become -- through through this event and through an accidental meeting up with the killer, with with Charlie Boy, he believes Charlie Boy to be innocent in the beginning. He sees that the city is after the man and that the city has become a killer itself, and he takes it upon himself to save Charlie Boy and then little by little learns that Charlie Boy is not as innocent as he'd supposed, so.

Studs Terkel But he he, this guy himself also has something, because he is sort of an innocent, he all sense of stubbornness and honesty, and that is called upon against overwhelming odds.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel He and Charlie Boy, he's out to help Charlie Boy escape.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel And he's against -- so your -- in your epigraph from the beginning you quote Dostoevsky's "The Idiot."

Peter Feibleman Yes.

Studs Terkel "There's a terrible voluptuousness in opposing oneself to an immense power, no matter how insignificant you are."

Peter Feibleman I read that in the notebooks to "The Idiot," the Dostoevsky notebooks, and it caught my eye and I kept going back to it and back to it and back to it, and I finally realized it's partly what I mean by Dr. Moment in Charlie Boy is that opposition to something that seems so phenomenal and so large that it becomes a voluptuous thing to fight it.

Studs Terkel So the characters meet. There's a web here, a tangled scheme.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel And here's this -- this Doctor Moment at this hotel, and there's a certain kind of hotel clerk. I know these guys very well.

Peter Feibleman Do you?

Studs Terkel I was a hotel clerk on a smaller scale myself for a while. But this hotel clerk Harry

Peter Feibleman Yeah.

Studs Terkel He knows about corruption and about that and he sort of half a part of it himself.

Peter Feibleman That's right.

Studs Terkel And he wonders who this nut is, this guy Moment who doesn't mind a room without a view.

Peter Feibleman Who doesn't

Studs Terkel Oh, by the way, there's an interesting comment about doctors here, doctors as conventioneers, and I hate to say this, I don't want doctors to feel too infuriated, but they will no doubt, that doctors at conventions -- cab drivers, bartenders, waitresses, clerks find doctors the

Peter Feibleman They do.

Studs Terkel Cheapest.

Peter Feibleman The cheapest and the most difficult.

Studs Terkel The most

Peter Feibleman I went around

Studs Terkel The most demanding.

Peter Feibleman Yeah. The most demanding. I asked everybody I could think of, not only in New Orleans but everywhere else. It seems to be true that they demand the most service for the least. I don't know

Studs Terkel I hate to make a general comment of that sort, but I've heard it so often. It's unanimous.

Peter Feibleman I never had a

Studs Terkel Service people, always called service people on the part, particularly cab drivers and waitresses, bartenders and others who depend upon a tip or two.

Peter Feibleman Yes.

Studs Terkel And of the demand. I think it's because the nature of doctor, Herr Doktor, a doctor.

Peter Feibleman It's a position of authority.

Studs Terkel But anyway, so this guy's different. This guy Moment is

Peter Feibleman He's a humble man, he is a simple man--

Studs Terkel Harry becomes sort of his guide, right? But now he meets a real guide. And now we come to a little kid, a Black sort of a Huck Finn figure. E.L. Sitwell. Who's E.L. Sitwell?

Peter Feibleman He's a teenager, a Black boy, out of a job, whose father is dead, whose mother used to take in laundry and can't anymore, she's she's been sick, and he's a kid who could go at the beginning of the story either way. He is a kid who believes in certain things he doesn't even know himself he believes in, who has certain kind of in-born values he's never had to tap, but who given the particular situation of poverty, he could become a thief, he could become an anything he thinks. Until he meets Dr. Moment.

Studs Terkel But he's a very alert, very alive and very bright. He also watches, doesn't he? He's precocious kid. Much like Huck. I imagine you had a Huck, Huck Finn idea.

Peter Feibleman

Studs Terkel Peter Feibleman writes to me very exciting novels, but they're multidimensional. His new book is called "Charlie Boy," and it's about, it's a detective story really, suspense story, involving a killer roaming the streets of New Orleans. Now, this may seem like just a traditional one to you, but it isn't. It's far more than that. It's a study of certain characters, people, and a city, and corruption and public hysteria. And it's quite a remarkable book. He was a guest before, the excellent work called "The Columbus Tree." Again, it deals too -- well, we can talk about that, Peter, Mr. Feibleman, the idea of the exotic too, the different, the strange, that in a sense is familiar too. Little, Brown the publishers of "Charlie Boy," and Peter Feibleman my guest, we'll talk about it in a moment after this message. [pause in recording] As you might call that traditional New Orleans jazz -- Indeed. And of course we think of New Orleans, we outside New Orleans, think of it as the city, as one of the quote unquote "cradles of jazz," we think of it as the city of delight, food -- Right. Creole culture, admixture of various societies -- Right. But you know New Orleans. You yourself live there and I grew up there. You've seen other things as well. It used to be called "Sin City" in, in the south. It's a little Catholic polyp in the otherwise Protestant Bible Belt, and Spanish and French Creoles kind of made it. And it's begi-- it has not much industry left since the, since the Civil War, it's mostly now tourism, so it's built on that. The strange thing about it to me growing up was that it's a city where violence lurks always just underneath the skin of things. And in the last 20 years in other cities all over the world violence has popped up and people have been surprised. I don't think anybody was very surprised in New Orleans. It was always there. I remember when I grew up there was a girl my age who was a society girl, Queen of Comus, which is big, big stuff in New Orleans. Comus is the oldest of the Mardi Gras krewes, and she had two sisters, all three beautiful girls. Two younger sisters they were. They had everything going for them, they were considered society, they had money, they were beautiful, they were fun. All three married men who committed suicide, and everybody was a little surprised but not really surprised. New Orleans breeds that kind of violence. Because you're talking also we come of course to your novel. Yeah. That is set in New Orleans and we get to know a city, the underbelly of a city. Right. As well as what we as visitors and tourists and conventioneers know. Right. But you said, you said something a moment ago, that in the midst of what is a Protestant, a Baptist primarily, Bible Belt -- Right. You have a something exotic in a sense, a Catholic [unintelligible]. It is indeed exotic. It has, it has always had that, and lives on it a little bit. Again, just under the exotic that is presented to the tourism group, is true. Is a kind of true exotic quality in terms of weather, in terms of the way people think and move and behave and feel, it's, it's a strange, and when I keep going back. You leave New Orleans, but it's one of the places you take with you. You know, Peter, as you're talking, the very opening you have a little introduction, and you speak. You said the weather. It was a hot and crazy season. Yeah. The first of three, and then -- this is little introduction to the book. There's a the report in the paper, somewhere a sentence somewhere in the back, about a certain murder that occurred, and then another one. Right. Suppose you tell it. It's -- what happens in the novel is that there is a killer on the loose. At first, a couple of murders are reported and buried in the back of the newspapers. They are in New Orleans, because nobody wants a threat to tourism; hotels don't, restaurants don't. And the city as I say runs mainly on that. So the reports are buried. Little by little he becomes famous. His -- somebody writes in to the newspaper and identifies himself as Charlie Boy, which is the title of the novel, and of the killer. And the city is strangely kind of proud to have a killer in residence. A perverse pride. Yeah, kind of perverse pride. Suddenly the Son of Sam and the Boston Strangler aren't such big stuff anymore, we have one too. You know, as you say this, I might as tell you about Chicago, it's a feeling I have about other Chicagoans, and through the years, you know, Chicago out throughout the world ever since Al Capone and of the Prohibition days and the gang killings in the streets. Moran, Bugs Moran and of course St. Valentine's Day and Al Capone, for years, you know, when you say Chicago in the European countries they "boom-boom," you know. Yeah. The fact is, many Chicagoans do take a perverse pride in it. Here too. Deep down I think so. I think this may be a human attribute. Yes, I'm sure it is. I guess we all, we all -- there is a kind of perversity and pride of any kind I suppose. But in this, by the way, was took off from an actual event. There was a killer in New Orleans. I lived down there for about a year and a half about four years ago, and I'd never lived in the French Quarter before except as a child until 5. That, what's it called, that's called the Quarter, isn't it? It's called the Quarter in New Orleans. Everyone knows that's the Quarter. "Vieux Carre" is known around town just as "the Quarter." It is in -- it's literally a misnomer to call it even a French Quarter, it burned down under the Spanish crown and was rebuilt. It's more Spanish than French in architecture, but the Quarter is a confined area downtown, and a great many tourists go there and there was a killer talked about and quickly un-talked about. By the way, that Quarter that is New Orleans has its opposite number in almost every large city. There it's known because of the French Quarter we call it, but Chicago would have had something called Old Town and New Town, New York has the Village. Right. For that matter -- There's a Bohemian -- Munich has Schwabing -- That's That's area, and every, and London has -- it's a tinsel kind of place. That's right. It's a raunchy, tinsel, bohemian place is right. And this is New Orleans, so this is the -- your, but this guy, Charlie Boy, Charlie Breux, really he wants to be recognized. This -- we don't know whether this guy did it or not in the beginning. Right. He says, "Look at me. Hey!" He himself takes pride in what he's doing. Actually what he does is to write in and claim, as a great many people do, responsibility for killings he never -- he never did or knew about. And in order to prove his right to the title, commits a couple. What I mean by him is that kind of psychopath. Oh, I suppose any of us under the age of five would be that kind of psychopath, before you learn you shouldn't do that. He also is a loser. But we'll come to Charlie. He is a loser all his life. Right. And even the killings. There isn't hardly anything he finds. Is exactly right. He's, he's The wallet is empty, the purse is empty. He's a guy out to get himself, I think a great many -- one of the reasons I happen not to believe in capital punishment is that I think a great many killers are, are out to get caught and killed as much as to kill. So I don't think it helps, and I think Charlie is a professional loser in that sense, Charlie Breux. Your book, by the way, this powerful, very suspenseful novel tells about New Orleans and about people themselves. It also is a story about hysteria, isn't Yes, it is indeed. A city's -- it could be a society's hysteria. Right. It's a city in siege, really, it's -- once the news of Charlie Boy gets out, New Orleans becomes a city in siege in "Charlie Boy," in the novel, because everybody's out to get him. The police are, the syndicate is, everybody wants him because he's in everybody's way. You have a marvelous sequence. Wait a minute, we'll come to the characters in a minute, the principal, the protagonists of it. A certain guy, a doctor who is visiting -- Right. A member of a medical convention, a little Black kid named E.L. Right. Sitwell and Charlie himself, these are the three central figures pretty much. They are indeed. There's other we'll talk about them. But your book deals with the underneath part. You said the syndicate and the respectables and the police. Everybody. Because they -- because the syndicate is involved in a lot of the -- Hotels, restaurants, sure. Nightlife. Hotels, restaurants, prostitution, whatever else it might be there. Yes, that's right. Everybody is scared of somebody who is a threat to tourism. Because the tourists are the source, and as a result of Charlie Boy some conventions have cancelled, too. Conventions have begun to cancel, and he's become a major threat. If one convention goes, it's the domino business. They all -- It's remarkable how your book, and it's a different way, parallels in a way this theme of the great pre-Hitler German film, "M," that first I remember Peter Lorre, Lang, Fritz Lang's film "M" that dealt with a child murderer. Yes. Peter Lorre plays this role, and they want to get him because the whole city, this whole German city's in -- and so the hoodlums -- Yeah. The gangsters work with the police together try to get this guy. That's what happens in --- And so here it is. Yeah. It's the same, it's the same situation. He's a threat to everybody. Everybody lives off that. Well, he's a commercial threat. That's it. That's the, that's the big one. So we come to, here we come, there's a man named Josiah Moment. He's a guy -- now -- you. There's a, the story is about a doctor, a New England Puritan by nature who's never thought very much about himself or his life, as most of us haven't, and who goes to his first convention, to a medical convention in New Orleans, and finds himself in a surfacely exotic world and then examines it a little bit and finds out that just under the surface is a really exotic world. And becomes entangled in what is going on in terms of Charlie Boy, of the threat to the city, of a killer on the loose. Becomes more and more interested in it, learns about it, and learns -- begins to learn about himself, about what his life has been like back in Boston, what his wife thinks of him, what he thinks of himself. He -- his life and Charlie Boy's life coincide and become tangled together. This guy, this Doctor Moment, pretty good doctor. Yeah. Is a guy who's considered dull by everybody. That's He's not a puritanical guy. It's just never occurred to him do -- what considered non-respectable things. That's But he's mostly a dull guy. His wife finds him dull, she has a friend he -- becomes slowly aware of that, that his friend is his wife's lover. But that's not the important thing to him. Is that even his parents and others when he walks into a room Right. "Oh God, here he comes." That's right, exactly. He's a dull guy, and he's beginning to realize something missing. Right. In himself and his life, isn't it? Exactly. Through this -- And it become -- through through this event and through an accidental meeting up with the killer, with with Charlie Boy, he believes Charlie Boy to be innocent in the beginning. He sees that the city is after the man and that the city has become a killer itself, and he takes it upon himself to save Charlie Boy and then little by little learns that Charlie Boy is not as innocent as he'd supposed, so. But he he, this guy himself also has something, because he is sort of an innocent, he all sense of stubbornness and honesty, and that is called upon against overwhelming odds. Right. He and Charlie Boy, he's out to help Charlie Boy escape. Right. And he's against -- so your -- in your epigraph from the beginning you quote Dostoevsky's "The Idiot." Yes. "There's a terrible voluptuousness in opposing oneself to an immense power, no matter how insignificant you are." I read that in the notebooks to "The Idiot," the Dostoevsky notebooks, and it caught my eye and I kept going back to it and back to it and back to it, and I finally realized it's partly what I mean by Dr. Moment in Charlie Boy is that opposition to something that seems so phenomenal and so large that it becomes a voluptuous thing to fight it. So the characters meet. There's a web here, a tangled scheme. Right. And here's this -- this Doctor Moment at this hotel, and there's a certain kind of hotel clerk. I know these guys very well. Do you? I was a hotel clerk on a smaller scale myself for a while. But this hotel clerk Harry -- Yeah. He knows about corruption and about that and he sort of half a part of it himself. That's right. And he wonders who this nut is, this guy Moment who doesn't mind a room without a view. Who doesn't mind Oh, by the way, there's an interesting comment about doctors here, doctors as conventioneers, and I hate to say this, I don't want doctors to feel too infuriated, but they will no doubt, that doctors at conventions -- cab drivers, bartenders, waitresses, clerks find doctors the -- They do. Cheapest. The cheapest and the most difficult. The most demanding. I went around -- The most demanding. Yeah. The most demanding. I asked everybody I could think of, not only in New Orleans but everywhere else. It seems to be true that they demand the most service for the least. I don't know why I hate to make a general comment of that sort, but I've heard it so often. It's unanimous. I never had a -- Service people, always called service people on the part, particularly cab drivers and waitresses, bartenders and others who depend upon a tip or two. Yes. And of the demand. I think it's because the nature of doctor, Herr Doktor, a doctor. It's a position of authority. But anyway, so this guy's different. This guy Moment is -- He's a humble man, he is a simple man-- Harry becomes sort of his guide, right? But now he meets a real guide. And now we come to a little kid, a Black sort of a Huck Finn figure. E.L. Sitwell. Who's E.L. Sitwell? He's a teenager, a Black boy, out of a job, whose father is dead, whose mother used to take in laundry and can't anymore, she's she's been sick, and he's a kid who could go at the beginning of the story either way. He is a kid who believes in certain things he doesn't even know himself he believes in, who has certain kind of in-born values he's never had to tap, but who given the particular situation of poverty, he could become a thief, he could become an anything he thinks. Until he meets Dr. Moment. But he's a very alert, very alive and very bright. He also watches, doesn't he? He's precocious kid. Much like Huck. I imagine you had a Huck, Huck Finn idea. Kind With

Peter Feibleman Kind of, yeah. That thing of a conscience growing up, a teenaged kind -- in that, in that period of flux, where a conscience becomes a conscience. That's what I meant by it sort of. And a man caught between -- or a kid caught between two men eventually, between Dr. Moment and Charlie Boy, and a kid who's too street-smart not to know what Charlie Boy is just by looking at

Studs Terkel He becomes in a sense the protector.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel Of Dr. Moment, who is this innocent in this alien city.

Peter Feibleman Yeah.

Studs Terkel And here's the kid who knows the town and he becomes his guide, his companion, his advisor

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel And he's discovering this guy's a strange bird, too.

Peter Feibleman Yes. They're both strange birds to him, but he protects one against the other, and then finds himself confused between, and then has to -- his is a kind of rite of passage I guess, of growing up between these two guys as they have to escape vigilante mobs and the police.

Studs Terkel Who are now the hysteria now and so everything, everything that happens now is Charlie Boy.

Peter Feibleman That's right.

Studs Terkel Charlie Breaux, now Char-- now we come to Charlie Boy himself, don't we?

Peter Feibleman Yeah.

Studs Terkel How much of what he says is true? How much is not of his background, we come to it again,

Peter Feibleman We do. The thing about Charlie Boy is to me anyway. Having written the book I'm not sure I'm, I'm not always sure I'm ever right about something once I've finished it, but I got to thinking that the -- what happened to me was that -- you remember the Manson killings. Just after that I was at a couple of dinner parties, one one in Los Angeles, one in New York, and people began to talk about Manson, and a couple of women and a couple of men began to tell what they would do to Manson if they caught him, and it was inevitably worse than anything Manson had done, and he'd done pretty bad. So I finally saw a woman pickup a spear and an orange off a centerpiece of a table and begin to operate on it for people in general as she would wish to operate on Manson, and I thought, can't they hear themselves? Can't they hear what they're saying? He's brought out the killer in everybody, and there is a killer in ev-- I don't think there's anybody born who hasn't thought murder. They're just happily -- less who have committed murder than who have not. But the cortex of the brain is what, 25, 50,000 years old? The midbrain, the jungle brain is millions of years old, and we revert to it almost instantly. You put a man in a tank, you find that one out. You put a man in any situation where he has to use the jungle brain, it comes immediately

Studs Terkel So you would -- let's stick with this, because it leads into the novel of course and how you did it, and [of course?] underlying all this is the violence within.

Peter Feibleman That's right.

Studs Terkel The respectables you see, you at this party, and they really were saying what they would do, they would skin him.

Peter Feibleman They were going to skin Manson, they were -- they went through graphic

Studs Terkel These are respectable

Peter Feibleman Highly respectable.

Studs Terkel What they would do. And of course we think of capital punishment and voting two to one for it now, the revival of that feeling of -- as though there's a retrogression [anyway?].

Peter Feibleman I think that's right. Because there's a fear and -- kill or be killed thing that's suddenly.

Studs Terkel And so here now Moment is this Dr. Moment who is this innocent, somehow something repels him. He meets certain women who are attracted to him, he's a strange bird, and there's one who is involved with the syndicate in a way -- a Vassar girl. That's kind of funny. Just lucky, I guess, you know

Peter Feibleman It's that old gag, yeah.

Studs Terkel She's the -- works in a place, a hostess and I imagine she's worked as a prostitute, too.

Peter Feibleman Little bit.

Studs Terkel Off and on, and she's I'm a -- a Vassar girl. You know the, just lucky I

Peter Feibleman I remember that joke.

Studs Terkel I thought of that, but he likes her, she likes him but, when she says, as your friends at that house party said

Peter Feibleman Yeah.

Studs Terkel What she would do to him, he just walks out.

Peter Feibleman He walks out on her, freaks it out, yeah. It's, it's what in a sense happened to me. And what would I think happened to a man like Dr. Moment. I've seen them react that way. People, I guess you believe in killing or you don't. And people who don't are apt to react rather violently when they hear people describe.

Studs Terkel This is the subtext, isn't it? Now, I'm talking to Peter Feibleman who's written a quite suspenseful and powerful book that's called "Charlie Boy," and it is a novel of suspense that involves the tracking down of a killer in a highly colorful city of grace and sophistication, the story, New Orleans is one of the story cities, isn't it?

Peter Feibleman Yes, it

Studs Terkel New Orleans, New York, and San Francisco.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel One of the story cities.

Peter Feibleman Yes, it is. Funny

Studs Terkel So you're doing something, you're peeling the city layer by layer, as Pegant and the onion, the button-maker. The onion is peeled bit by bit and suddenly there's this core of his life, and so that's what you're doing with New Orleans.

Peter Feibleman I tried to get down to, to what tourists don't see in New Orleans particularly, which is the really raunchy and also kind of aristocratic and wonderful part of the city. It's a strange mixture of things, New Orleans.

Studs Terkel And so one of the bartenders where Moment is visiting with his friend, the clerk Harry. He says, "City's got 49 conventions and 73 package tours between now and next March, not counting Mardi Gras. That's according to the official radio report. Word gets out we got a killer in residence and one convention cancels, they all go. The syndicate won't buy that." And then domino theory. Domino. And the other guy says, "Syndicate runs most hotel conventions and wants no outside killers here. Especially not with --" and he goes on with what's happening. And so this is

Peter Feibleman That is kind of the voice of the city. That's people in bars and people on the street and people who run magazine stands beginning to realize that the city's in siege, and it will be in siege until Charlie Boy's caught and killed.

Studs Terkel And so some of the cops, the particularly brutal ones have a field day.

Peter Feibleman Right. Right. The beat cops go after him too. Everybody has a field day. It becomes open season to find this one man.

Studs Terkel Every derelict in fact there's one who was killed, every derelict becomes a suspect.

Peter Feibleman Right. People are caught in back alleys and beaten and taken to jail with very little reason, or if any at all.

Studs Terkel And so now

Peter Feibleman Suppose

Studs Terkel We're talking now that a book, your book is building, while there's a very good, a lot of insights here, into the characters, into the city, into comments, into hysteria. Peter Feibleman has written in "Charlie Boy," and we -- let's resume, we'll pick up how. Now we pick up how Dr. Moment becomes involved with Charlie Boy as well as with his young companion and guide. His cicerone. E.L. Moment. Little, Brown Company the publishers, and we'll resume in a moment after this message. [pause in recording] And so now resuming with Peter Feibleman and his novel "Charlie Boy." We pick up. Now. Okay. How he meets.

Peter Feibleman He meets Charlie Boy. There is, there's an old Black lady involved. I, she's a real, she was a real person.

Studs Terkel Maggie.

Peter Feibleman Maggie is her name. She -- when I was in New Orleans, met an old lady who's had -- old Black lady who sat out on the street with four dogs. Sitting or lying on the pavement besides. She was always there and she looked and sounded rather pathetic, and she was anything but pathetic. She was wise, she was in on everything, she knew where everybody was, what was going on. She ran a little pawn shop and was -- made a good living. The front was 'poor me'. It was, it was the poor little match girl. But she was not. Also, she looked 105, and she was anything but that too. She was, I once saw her at night dressed differently and didn't recognize her. Somebody said that's my -- her name isn't Maggie, I'd changed the name for the book. And I didn't, I didn't believe it. I went up and talked to her and she threw her head back and laughed and said, "Yeah, didn't you know?" So I used her in the story. She is the go-between. She -- when Charlie Boy is chased by the police and shot and breaks his wrist vaulting a fence, he's been living in her house which is the last place anybody would expect to find him, because she's out there in the open sitting all day on the pavement, and she goes to Dr. Moment, she knows there's a convention

Studs Terkel It's a very funny story. How, how could she get in, this bedraggled old seemingly bedraggled old Black woman get into this hotel? Not the most fancy, but fancy enough hotel. Into the doctor's room. How? And she explains how she does it, which is kind of funny.

Peter Feibleman Yeah.

Studs Terkel Why don't you recount that?

Peter Feibleman She goes into the -- Dr. Moment's surprised that she could -- he find -- she knocks on his door and walks in in the middle of the night. And he finds it strange that she's been able to, to, to find it at all.

Studs Terkel He says, "How'd you get into my room? How'd you get here? How'd you know to knock on my door?"

Peter Feibleman "Maggie look surprised. 'Me? Lord,' she said, 'You must be kidding. Who'd stop a Nigger lady walking in the service entrance of a New Orleans hotel? That's what a service sentence is for,' she said. 'I could have brought eight more with me. I called up the service phone for your room number.' She did not laugh again." It goes on like that. She says -- she got -- you can walk in the service entrance if you're a Black, nobody would pay any attention to her. Nobody would pay any attention to her anywhere.

Studs Terkel So now she sees [him?], and now she gets him -- she has a friend she says who needs a doctor's help. Right.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel Because Charlie Boy in running away -- oh, by the way the cops were chasing a certain derelict, an old Black guy they thought might be -- and Charlie Boy is running in front of him.

Peter Feibleman Yeah. They, they shot him by accident. Not even knowing it was he.

Studs Terkel Yeah but he, so he's here now.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel And, and

Peter Feibleman And Maggie takes the doctor to cure him, to help him. Knowing by now because the doctor has stopped enough and given her a quarter for food for her dogs, and it's knowing that he's a bit of an innocent, and in her terms a bit of a sucker. And she's up against it. She can't have Charlie Boy die in her house because then she'll be up for grabs, so she's got to get that killer out of residence, and she goes to a doctor for help.

Studs Terkel And so the doctor now, he's going to be the Don Quixote here.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel He's this guy who Dostoyevsky quotes, you quote Dostoevsky in the beginning. The guy who was challenging everything. He thinks Charlie Boy may be innocent and he's challenging hysteria, and he buys a camper with the dough.

Peter Feibleman Right

Studs Terkel And Charlie Boy -- but along with him comes E.L., the little kid.

Peter Feibleman Actually it's meant as a fishing trip is all. E.L., the Black boy, and Dr. Moment go out into the bayou country for a day's fish.

Studs Terkel This kid's about 13 now,

Peter Feibleman About 16.

Studs Terkel Oh, he's 16, yeah.

Peter Feibleman Going on 16. And Charlie Boy stows away in the back of a camper as a means of getting

Studs Terkel And the last half of the book, by the way, is this

Peter Feibleman It's a long chase.

Studs Terkel It's a chase. And that now we come to the very suspenseful part. How they could -- 'cause now the whole city, the state is alerted now.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel 'Cause now the stuff's come out. Fifteen thousand dollars dead or alive.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel For this -- isn't that

Peter Feibleman That's it. And they're traveling in Cajun country in south Louisiana where they're relatively easy to spot. It's a hard place to get away.

Studs Terkel But something in their favor, perversely so, is there's a hurricane.

Peter Feibleman What they finally have to do in order to elude the police is to drive into a hurricane. The hurricane doesn't catch them, they go finding it and have some trouble finding it. And and finally seek, literally seek sanctuary in a storm. In order to get away from the police, which is the final confrontation between the two men.

Studs Terkel Because here you have both, here you have nature and man,

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel We have the volcano and Miami at the same time.

Peter Feibleman Right. And you have that, the jungle brain in operation in virtually a jungle because the, where they drive to is the Atchafalaya River Basin, which is I think perhaps the most beautiful wilderness area in the States.

Studs Terkel You know this area.

Peter Feibleman Very well, yeah. I used to go fishing there and frogging when I was little and I've been in it a lot since. I did an ecology book once on it, it's an extraordinary area. It won't last I don't think, there's oil under it. So it will go, but it's ravishingly beautiful and and real jungle stuff. You go 10 minutes into it and you would think you were in the heart of Brazil.

Studs Terkel It's hurricane country in

Peter Feibleman It's hurricane country, country which all of south Louisiana is. The hurricanes brew in the Gulf of Mexico and spin around and come up and

Studs Terkel -- I suppose a little Tennessee Williams touch here, too, in that foliage as he, you know, that gentle sweet foliage that drives out of which came a loony in a way. Blanche

Peter Feibleman Yeah, right. It's the same, it's that, it's the -- it engenders that, parts of the South. I guess largely because because having lost the war, the South had nothing to fall back on but manners and certain ways of behavior, so it's a much more formal.

Studs Terkel Yeah, you know, Rosemary Danielle, who is a Southern white woman writer, was, wrote a book called "Fatal Flowers"

Peter Feibleman -- Right.

Studs Terkel A memoir. And in it she speaks of somehow the words are kind of front sometimes, there's a violent underneath it there, you know.

Peter Feibleman It's always

Studs Terkel And then since the word fails, bang! There's the punch.

Peter Feibleman There's the act.

Studs Terkel The act.

Peter Feibleman It's always true, as it is true in New Orleans that violence is just under the surface of the city, as it's true in the in the swamp, in the Atchafalaya River Basin that if you touch a bush, a snake can fall

Studs Terkel Now, now we have the three of them trying to get away.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel The money's running down, they got the camper, their radio is out, now E.L., the little kid, the young kid, E.L. Sitwell, the young Black kid, he he he has a pretty good idea about Charlie Boy.

Peter Feibleman Yes.

Studs Terkel And he knows this guy's dangerous.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel Moment is still the innocent defending

Peter Feibleman He's still fighting the idea that he's dangerous. Somewhere he knows it, somewhere he doesn't.

Studs Terkel 'Cause Charlie Boy now is very religious, too.

Peter Feibleman Yes.

Studs Terkel And he's quoting gospel, only he, he likes

Peter Feibleman He's been listening to Oral Roberts

Studs Terkel -- The evangelists on, on -- he could be one, he says.

Peter Feibleman Yes.

Studs Terkel And he's that, he calls upon the Lord all the time.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel And this is Charlie Boy, the other two are kind of agnostics in a way.

Peter Feibleman That's right. Who find themselves with a, not only a crazy man, but suddenly a crazy religious man apart from being a killer. So.

Studs Terkel But also this journey, they meet different people, and now the different reactions of different people.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel That's interesting.

Peter Feibleman It's -- the Cajun country is strange country. People, people as a rule don't know the difference between Creole and Cajun by fine. Creole, creole by dictionary definition just means a member of a country who goes to a foreign country and maintains the manners and mores of the mother country, so you can be any kind of Creole. In New Orleans you spent your -- largely French or Spanish. Cajuns are Acadians, they came from Nova Scotia when the British booted them out.

Studs Terkel "Evangeline."

Peter Feibleman "Evangeline," exactly. So it's a different French, and the country they they drive through in this chase is Cajun country, which is a mixture of 18th century French and 20th century English in a kind of charming way, but they're very -- they're strange people, they're people who are threatened yearly by hurricanes and who rebuild their houses in the same place if, if there had been, so they're strong.

Studs Terkel Guidry the Yankee pitcher was Cajun.

Peter Feibleman Yep, he is indeed.

Studs Terkel There is something, and the kid. E.L. who knows

Peter Feibleman Just a little Cajun. He knows as much as I

Studs Terkel He remembers a certain area too, doesn't he?

Peter Feibleman He

Studs Terkel Where they hole out, but the women, there's someone named Sara Champs. They stop at -- well, your description of motels.

Peter Feibleman Yeah.

Studs Terkel Is very good. These are not the Holiday Inns or Marriott. These are little ma, pa.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel Seedy little motels.

Peter Feibleman That's right. It's, it's, it's another part of the world. They stop in a, they stop in a boarding house in a little town called Du Lac on the Gulf and a woman who runs the boarding house. She is by the way the heroine of one of my -- this is the first novel of a trilogy, and Sara Champs is the heroine of the second book. Oh, funny you should pick her out.

Studs Terkel Oh, really? Oh, this is first of a trilogy?

Peter Feibleman Yeah.

Studs Terkel So this woman Sara Champs is, who becomes, who is interesting, very by the way, she's a figure in your forthcoming novels--

Peter Feibleman In the next book, right. She's -- Sara [Choud?] becomes Sara Champs in Cajun country. She runs a boarding house, and she saves them. She

Studs Terkel Well, she knows something is wrong here.

Peter Feibleman She doesn't quite know what it is, but she knows enough about them from having talked -- she knows Moments and then she knows the Doctor is an innocent.

Studs Terkel She knows he doesn't know how to lie.

Peter Feibleman Correct.

Studs Terkel And she and the little kid, E.L., know this doctor is goofing it

Peter Feibleman He's a stumblebum.

Studs Terkel But then she says, finally she says to the doctor, "I can't stand anymore, if you don't mind." She says, "So please just tell me. Is it something you want to sell, or something you want to buy?"

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel She's right down to it, doesn't she?

Peter Feibleman Right. And he does indeed, they want to, they want to buy a car. They've escaped in a van which has now been spotted by the police and is out on car radios, so they need to switch.

Studs Terkel And they're got to buy a couple of hundred-dollar broken down old Chevy.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Peter Feibleman And now in the meantime the radio is on and Charlie Boy in the back is listening to the gospel hours all

Peter Feibleman Right. Right.

Studs Terkel And this is building here.

Peter Feibleman Right. They go, they go to the town of Lafayette, which is the heart of the Cajun country, and they go there because that has become the evacuation center for this particular hurricane. And they figure they can get lost in the crowds.

Studs Terkel And of course we call upon the wit of E.L. Sitwell, the kid. His wit, because now they run out of gas.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel And everything. And now perhaps you read this scene, because this is a scene, this is out of "Huck Finn." This is, I mean this is a Huck Finn scene.

Peter Feibleman I don't even

Studs Terkel There's a gas station attendant, and they got to get some food, and they got to get some gas. And now everybody's aware that three people on the move. That is, the two guys, the killer Charlie Boy, some guy protecting him.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel They describe this man with the glasses. And

Peter Feibleman They stop in the gas station, right, and the gas station attendant hears on the radio that Charlie Boy is in the neighborhood somewhere and is being chased, and E.L. goes to, leaves, they leave the car parked, E.L. walks to the gas station and asks to buy a can of gas, and the gas station attendant says, "Maybe I'll get my brothers up and have a look just to make sure you're telling the truth." "I wish you would," E.L. said fast, "I know it's safe. My pa's actin' silly about it. I keep telling him you can't die from drinking plain tap water. Anyway, they had four cases of it in that whole town." The attendant had his hand on a long chain attached to a black iron bell he apparently used to rouse his brothers when he needed them. "Four cases of what?" he said. "There!" E.L. said, "I'd done it again. Seems like I can't keep my mouth shut. We've been turned down in every gas station since --" The attendant took his hand off the bell string. E.L. advanced a step. "Ma'll kill me if I don't come back with gas. She's fixin' to anyway." He took some money from his pocket and held it out. "Listen, mister, I swear I ain't done that," he said. "I know I ain't. I ain't got nothing. I ain't sick. How could I be and still be walking around?" The attendant grabbed a rifle out of a cabinet and aimed it at him. "You take them apples and them two cans of gas," he said evenly, "And you tell your family I said to be out of this parish in fifteen minutes flat and take you with them." Ten minutes later, settling them -- that's what happens, it is kind of

Studs Terkel Of course he was waiting to see -- so the attendant got scared there was a disease.

Peter Feibleman Yeah.

Studs Terkel And he thought quickly.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel This is, this is Huck Finn.

Peter Feibleman Sure, and he reckoned he -- I left out the paragraph in the beginning, he used to read, E.L., in the library in New Orleans, he got it out of "Huck Finn."

Studs Terkel And so now there's a closing in. But the hurricane is in it, and they're hiding out at a certain place, we're coming to a very key moment

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel Involving Charlie Boy

Peter Feibleman Dr. Moment and E.L., all three.

Studs Terkel Revelation. In the meantime, he speaks of being reborn. Interesting.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel Our friend

Peter Feibleman Breaux. Charlie Boy.

Studs Terkel Charlie Boy of being reborn. And he goes into a long spiel about that.

Peter Feibleman Right. And feels himself becoming -- I think the more -- I think it's true of killers by and large that they feel put upon, unlucky, and some of them in personal touch with God, so that you do is okay. I guess the definition of a psychopath is somebody who doesn't know right from wrong, evil from good, from good except insofar as it services him or her. And so it's quite easy for him to believe that God's on his

Studs Terkel So there's a self-pity idea.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel "I'm no good," they come to him, there's a moment of course at the end when Charlie Boy reveals himself to the doctor.

Peter Feibleman Yes.

Studs Terkel And before the doctor does -- by the way, we should point out there are certain moments of passion and the rage in the doctor's life, a moment that he himself is anyway -- certainly was young.

Peter Feibleman That's right.

Studs Terkel Certain moment, and that moment comes later on.

Peter Feibleman So that he's, he's, the doctor is essentially saving a killer in himself, as well as

Studs Terkel Yeah, and that becomes a very powerful crashing, but suppose after Charlie Boy reveals some truth about himself that horrifies the doctor, that maybe this guy is, now he knows he did, Charlie is just trying to justify himself and say, this is everybody. This is a great moment I think in the book, a marvelous moment.

Peter Feibleman Thank you. "He lowered his voice to a whisper. (This is Charlie Boy.) I ain't no worse than most people. I'm bigger. I just went through with it, that's all. But it's a little bit of me in everybody, except maybe in you. (He's talking to E.L.) If it's anything I

Studs Terkel Oh, he's talking to the young kid.

Peter Feibleman Yeah. He's

Studs Terkel Who saved his life, by the way.

Peter Feibleman Right. Who saves him from a snake just

Studs Terkel The snakes.

Peter Feibleman He says to E.L., "If it's anything I know about a person, it's that. I learned a lot in jail. I can tell a killer a mile off." He opened the door. "Listen here at this: the world is full of killers, kid. All them folks chasing us, they're just plain folks. Ain't as big as me, but they sure got a drop of me. And a drop's enough to spend their whole lives trying to get rid of. That's what Oral Roberts knows about them." Charlie Boy's face had twisted up into a grin. He put a finger to his lips. "Doctors, lawyers, preachers, they just like it for it to be legal, see? It's practically everybody in the world, they all got at Charlie Boy's secret. And some of them go to church and kneel down and pray to God to get rid of it, exceptin' they can't. It'll always be there, kid, and he knows it. Moment knows it. He's just exactly like the rest of them." When Charlie Boy was out in the hall, long after E.L. thought he was downstairs, he added, "You'll see."

Studs Terkel Yeah. That's a, there

Peter Feibleman Toward the end of the book.

Studs Terkel There comes that rationalization. It's almost as though Iago, though a different Iago, a different person, but Iago has such

Peter Feibleman contempt For

Studs Terkel Charlie Boy has contempt for himself, he thinks all humans are no good. That is in a sense original sin.

Peter Feibleman That's right.

Studs Terkel We're talking about original sin here.

Peter Feibleman Quite right. That's exactly what it is. And Charlie Boy has the same self-contempt and contempt for everybody else, too.

Studs Terkel Yeah, but what throws him, is a certain moment. He hates this kid, E.L.

Peter Feibleman Yeah.

Studs Terkel Because E.L. he thinks is, knows him.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel Not that there's a little racism in him, too, but that's not it. See, he hates this kid who digs him.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel And and he knows the doctor is an innocent. And there's a moment when he can -- he may, the kid slipped, he slipped in this house.

Peter Feibleman He makes an attempt, an attempt on E.L.'s life. And in return, E.L. saves his life.

Studs Terkel And that is what throws Charlie

Peter Feibleman That throws Charlie Boy

Studs Terkel And that knocks his whole psyche, his whole philosophy out of kilter.

Peter Feibleman Yeah. It's the first time he's really recognized another human face in this little kid.

Studs Terkel Who is actually saving him, even though he wanted to kill him.

Peter Feibleman Yeah. He figures the doctor saved him because he's a self-righteous

Studs Terkel He's a, call him a Christer.

Peter Feibleman Yeah.

Studs Terkel This guy's a Christer.

Peter Feibleman But he can't figure the kid for any reason at all, except a natural desire to save somebody whose life is in danger. So, what -- when the final confrontation happens -- actually one of the reasons the book took me so long to write was I had to throw the plot out the window. I didn't know when I started, I knew somebody would die at the end, but I didn't know who it was. I knew it would be Moment or Charlie

Studs Terkel Well, you know, I thought it might be Moment, you see, didn't he, there were certain moments that you didn't know yourself, but there was one time there when the young kid E.L. remembered that the doctor said to him, "If I save a life, that makes my living not"

Peter Feibleman "Gives me a reason to live," yeah.

Studs Terkel Necessary, you see. So my impression of the -- and there's more to come, more we haven't just gotten to the end, to the end of it, and the kid says, "No, there's more to come." So my impression -- I had a feeling that maybe Moment, the doctor was going to get it, but you have a twist here.

Peter Feibleman Well, I had a feeling myself in writing, I hope it's as exciting to read as it was to write, because the end, the wonderful part about writing the end for me was in not knowing myself who was going to get it. I knew one of the, I knew three people couldn't walk out of

Studs Terkel But you also have something way, way in the beginning about a certain rare moment of rage.

Peter Feibleman Yes.

Studs Terkel Of blind rage on the part of the cool, innocent, rational, detached Dr. Moment.

Peter Feibleman Right. Right.

Studs Terkel The dull man. Who is no longer dull. Of course, what happens, a discovery of himself and a new way of living. Right. A new life entirely.

Peter Feibleman That's exactly

Studs Terkel And seeing his wife and his friend for what they are doesn't matter too much to him anymore.

Peter Feibleman Nothing really does.

Studs Terkel Because now he's on to another way.

Peter Feibleman That's right.

Studs Terkel Elsewhere.

Peter Feibleman That's

Studs Terkel And of course the growth of the kid himself, E.L.

Peter Feibleman And they all change, all three change.

Studs Terkel Of course with Charlie Boy getting it, we're not -- it doesn't matter giving away the plot, that's not it, that's very suspenseful. The whole now, the whole establishment breathes a sigh of relief, let's close the case as though it were all over.

Peter Feibleman It isn't of course all over, that's why I've got two more books to write. It's, it's, there's the, there's the other killer, the killer Charlie Boy copied in the first place. Who's got away scot-free. The real killer, the one who, Charlie Boy's done several murders, but not nearly as many as the one who got away.

Studs Terkel So you're talking about now, the book goes beyond the book, beyond the pages of the book.

Peter Feibleman Right.

Studs Terkel This is really the beginning of a trilogy.

Peter Feibleman It is indeed.

Studs Terkel "Charlie Boy," and Peter Feibleman is my guest, Little, Brown the publishers. Not only is it suspenseful, but you only heard a few pieces of it, like a, is that it, the study of characters in it. The study of a city. In a way it's almost a metaphor for society and hysteria, and looking for -- not that Charlie Boy is a scapegoat, he is guilty. And he's -- oh, another -- I know what it is now. Why you're opposed to capital punishment and others, I am. Another thing is -- and why rights of even the most deskable [sic] -- despicable is necessary. The doctor got to dislike and despise Charlie Boy very much.

Peter Feibleman And the more he dislikes him, the more driven he is to save

Studs Terkel To save him, even this most despicable of guys.

Peter Feibleman Especially.

Studs Terkel Especially.

Peter Feibleman The more he hates him, the more perversely he is driven to save him. That's what I mean by the Puritan streak in the guy. It's, it's -- would have been in a sense easier for him to save somebody he liked, but he wouldn't have been so motivated as to save somebody he not only doesn't like, but is kind of horrified by, and a little frightened

Studs Terkel So here's a story of New Orleans. The city of New Orleans. You know Steve Goodman's song, "City of New Orleans"?

Peter Feibleman Sure.

Studs Terkel Here's a story of New Orleans. Peter Feibleman, who grew up in it, wrote this, and it's one of his several excellent novels.

Peter Feibleman Thank you.

Studs Terkel Formerly it was "The Columbus Tree," we talked -- it also dealt with generations and family. But this deals with a city at certain moment, a certain circumstance, hysteria, could be a society and with characters who are very fascinating. And we opened with a piece of music. Now, and let's close with New Orleans music.

Peter Feibleman All right, great.

Studs Terkel Now we know the city a little better, but the music is still there.

Peter Feibleman It sure is.

Studs Terkel And so let's hear George Lewis and "Philip St. Breakdown," and thank you very much.

Peter Feibleman I thank you very much.