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John Updike

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction

John Updike: I didn't set out to become a reviewer much, but I did. I was a New Yorker writer and looking for any way in which I could appear in the magazine and sell, and I began to drift into reviewing by 1960, not very many at first. They had other reviewers, but as they died off, I became for a while almost the main reviewer. I did more reviews than anybody else, and you could say I was doing too many. I did try to avoid American contemporaries, many of whom, as you say, I knew, because who knows where envy or friendship enter in and distort the honesty of the book report. So, I tried to review foreign, dead or European or Latin American writers. There was a lot of ferment and magic realism. The novel in Europe was much more overtly experimental than I'm aware of it being now. So I thought there were things I could learn, just as a reader, from reading these books, so I tried to read books that would further my own education, as well as earn me the money of the book review and keep me up.
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John Updike

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction

It's very easy -- when you've written for those three or four hours -- your appetite for words is rather diminished, so it's all too easy to not read much, so the reviews did keep me reading and acquainted with trends. Trends in what do we do with this old dinosaur -- the novel. Because the novel is a very capacious plastic. It's sort of what you make it, and it's taken many forms. Ulysses is -- you can't repeat that, but that is an example of a novel that really tried to do everything. So we post-moderns are faced with this notion that maybe we're not taking it far enough. We're accepting the old conventions, quote marks and "he said, she said," when we had these experimental writers who have done so much. So anyway, it's good in a way to make yourself think about these basic issues. Why are you doing this at all? What are you bringing to it that's different? Are you just feeding the machine or are you in some way altering the machine? All these things are probably up to a point useful, but in the end you're left with your own intuitions and your own sense of -- whatever -- beauty or meaning or urgency.
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Antonio Villaraigosa

Former Mayor of Los Angeles

Antonio Villaraigosa: Obviously the obscene amount of money that is spent on elections today, special interests exacerbate the conflicts. I think the parties -- the country's so evenly divided -- raise the stakes. I think primaries also sometimes lead to people getting elected who are just on the extremes, don't feel like they need to compromise. I think redistricting and the focus on maintaining party power contributes to that. I think we are at a time where there is a lack of civility, not just in politics, but across the board. So there are a number of reasons for it, and analysts and all of that probably provide more insights. I would say, from my vantage point, I think it is essential that we -- in both parties -- promote a more civil discourse, recognize and value compromise and problem solving. My criticism of legislators, both state and local and particularly federal, is that they are oftentimes so focused on the debate, and on the idea, and not on results and getting things done. I think mayors and governors -- but particularly mayors -- have to pull up their sleeves and get things done. I like to say there is not a Democrat or Republican way to make people safe or pick up the trash. You've just got to do it. And working through these things, I think, should be something that we all put a higher value on.
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Bert Vogelstein

Cancer Researcher

When I went to college I initially thought I was going to major in pre-med kind of courses, but I took math courses and I found them much more intellectually stimulating than the standard pre-med courses. So, I decided to major in mathematics and, in fact, went to graduate school in mathematics for a year. I finished college early, so I had an extra year to kind of fool around, and I went to graduate school. I took graduate courses in math. And, I began to feel, even though math was incredibly intellectually stimulating, it didn't have the practical edge that I wanted. I wanted to be able to do something for people.
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Bert Vogelstein

Cancer Researcher

Our laboratory was right above the radiation therapy unit. Radiation therapy, of course, is where cancer patients get x-rays treatments for their disease. And in order to get to our laboratory, I actually had to walk through the radiation treatment area. And, every day we'd come in and we'd see dozens of patients lined up waiting to get these treatments, and they were all very sick, many of them were in wheelchairs. You could see that they were just in terrible shape; most of them you knew were going to die relatively soon. And, you couldn't possibly walk through that room and not run up the stairs and start working. It just continually reinforced the idea that this is a disease, people are getting it, they shouldn't get it, we've got to do something about it.
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