Phone Message Transcript: Dec. 29, 1997
[appearing on Anne's fan phone line]

"Hi, its October 29th, no December 29, 1997. It's early, early in the morning.

Tell me about Gary Oldman. I'm not seeing enough Gary Oldman. Where is Gary Oldman? And by the way, my not seeing him doesn't mean a damn thing. I'm so cocooned down here in New Orleans; I live such a eccentric and bizarre life that my not seeing somebody doesn't mean anything one way or another. But you've always told me about these guys, you've always told me where to look for their great films. You did that with Leonardo DiCaprio, you lead me to WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE?. And now I'm in love with Leonardo and want him to be the Vampire Lestat, as everybody knows. But anyway, back to Gary Oldman. I saw THE FIFITH ELEMENT, and I thought Gary Oldman did a grand job as a character actor in there, playing an absolute freak. Wonderful, wonderful Gary Oldman! But what else is he doing? Do you all know?

On Ralph Fiennes, he's a recent discovery to me, really. I mean I know he did splendidly in SCHINDLER'S LIST as the Nazi, and he was really great in THE ENGLISH PATIENT, but last night I saw him in WUTHERING HEIGHTS, a 1992 Paramount Pictures film, and I thought he was really marvelous. I am very interested in him. I read in a magazine that he was in a film directed by his sister. Do any of you know anything about that? If you do, leave me a message. Leave me a message on anything as a matter of fact. You can leave me a message after the beep that is one minute long, even if this machine cuts me off, which often happens, you can do it.

Norman Cantor. You know Norman Cantor is my favorite historian. Norman Cantor teaches at NYU and he writes about the Middle Ages. Well, all his books are out now, it seems to me, or a great many of them, in new trade paper back editions. Trade paper backs are the big hefty paper backs, the ones that don't fit in the little rack at the drug store or grocery store. I just wanted to point you in that direction if you love history, which a lot of us do. You wouldn't be reading my work, I don't think, if you didn't love history. Take a look at Norman Cantor's work. What they really are is simplifying works. They take all the complex things in history that we read about and puzzle over and they put them in a kind of order for us. And the order is very seductive. It's as fun to read Norman Cantor as it is to read a novelist.

Speaking of reading things, I want to read you some things out of a book called THE MYSTERY OF THE BODY by Sherman B. Nuland. You know, at the core of my work is really this idea that we have listen to the flesh, that the flesh really teaches us all things. That God intended it that way, that our bodies are as beautiful and complicated as they are because they are really theological text books, they are examples. They, in the physical world, in the study of our bodies and the studies of the biological and physical and geological world, we'll find all the truths that God wants us to find. And this is more important sometimes than philosophy or theology or ideas that are thunk up by people and written about. You know, if we keep going back to the earth and grabbing it in handfuls, we will find out that. Anyway, I get a lot out of Sherman Nuland's book THE WISDOM OF THE BODY because I believe he is saying kind of the same thing. And I want to read something from page 365 of the hard cover. He says: "Ongoing life requires that instability be in the service of stability and change serve the needs of constancy. Harmony is the essence of our aesthetic sense and it rises up out of the ultimate harmony and integration of bodily processes. It is reflected not only in music and in our music and in our poetry, but in our visual appreciation as well. No matter the disparate qualities that may enter into its composition, what is aesthetically pleasing is what conveys to our sensibilities the same ordered regularity of outcome demanded by the deepest levels of our cellular self. Our lives march to the molecular beat of our tissues, our spirits sing to the music of our biology."

Well, I think that's a stunningly beautiful passage. Really, really great. He goes on to talk about the human accomplishments that we can appreciate beauty. And he says here: "The beauty of image, of sound, and of thought give us the sense of enrichment, even of spirituality that goes well beyond our constant our seeking of near survival and the most elementary forms of gratification and pleasure. The human spirit and its perpetual search for beauty are the defining characteristics of our humanity at its best."

Again, I think that is the stunning truth. I claim Sherwin B. Nuland as one of my teachers, as I have of so many other writers, and I recommend him to you. He not only wrote this book, he wrote another book which was also really wonderful, in fact he's written a lot of books. Let me read you what he's written. He's written THE ORIGINS OF ANASTASIA; DOCTORS: THE BIOGRAPHY OF MEDICINE; MEDICINE: THE ART OF HEALING; THE FACE OF MERCY and a book called HOW WE DIE. HOW WE DIE is very informative, of course, since we are all dying all the time. I think that its an endlessly fascinating subject.

Let me ask you some more questions. You are still giving me your responses to VIOLIN and I'm glad. I never read the reviews on VIOLIN, which I suppose at some point I should. I know that I fell isolated down here because I don't read them. But you talk to me and I listen to what you say. Keep telling me. VIOLIN is trudging along up there on the Best Sellers List. Apparently some kind of word of mouth has happened on it and it's selling a little more than my books usually sell. Not numerically necessary, it's just selling longer. When you are a well known writer your books just sort of shoot up the Best Sellers List and sell very fast to the people that are waiting for them. When you are a new writer your books hang around longer as people turn on to them.

Well, VIOLIN is breaking the pattern of the well known writer and it's hanging around a little bit longer. Keep telling me what you think. What do you think about the idea that I threw out last night about Judy Davis playing Triana if there was a movie? How many of you know Judy Davis? Are you familiar with her? She is a really extraordinary actress. She is exquisite, she's lovely. She was in a movie with Jack Nicholson called BLOOD & WINE, where she played a battered and tormented wife who becomes mixed up in a kind of "film noir" drama and.........."

[Anne is cut off by machine]