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tv   [untitled]    February 18, 2011 1:30am-2:00am PST

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>> thank you one, two, three, four. ♪ ♪
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>> this is called rah, rah, rah
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(applause). >> thanks everybody. make sure you come even when there is not a band here. ♪
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>> welcome to town. it is nice to have you here. >> good to be here. i want to start right in about this book, um by having you read us, this letter that your brother wrote to you when he was at the university of pennsylvania and you were the younger sister that starts right down there. remind us roughly what the year was. >> the year was 1965.
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the moral of this story is never have a younger sister who never throws away a piece of paper. i discovered this letter 4 or 5 months before i finished this book oh my god, a paper trail sets us straight. >> read it to us. >> only people from brooklyn uses the word geez. your letter doesn't have a single worthwhile sentence in it. i will not buy you any notebooks. i repeat no notebooks. but i will send you decals that are not to be placed in my room, around my room or on the window of my car. >> okay. who was this guy? and why did you set out to tell
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this story? >> this guy was my fantastic, magnet, bossy, difficult, older brother carl. he was the red state to my blue state. all you have to understand to know about how complicated and difficult this relationship was my first memory of my brother was with when he sail me out a window when i was 2 years old and in the san antonio emergency room with a cut on my eye brow. he gave me the gift of a hard head. he went from there to being the youngest member of the john berk society and coming into my room to smash my joan biaz
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records because she was on the list. he was complicated, but saying all of that he was mysterious. he grew up to be a trial lawyer turned apple orchardist. part of the madening sibling thing was understanding the control freak nature that my brother had. for example, every year he would send me a box of fruit. the fruit he grew in his gorgeous orchards in washington state. the fruit came with the carl tax where you would get 25 telephone calls before the fruit came, such as, fruit is coming next week, are you going to be home? this is said in a texas accent. i would say i don't know. he said you have to be there
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because they are my pears and precious and have to put them in the refrigerator the minute you come in. i learned to say okay. then the fruit would come and it would be wrapped like a bomb or something, each fruit, each pear. these gorgeous asian pears had sty row foam socks wrapped around them. after the fruit came you'd get a series of phone calls, can i demand a refund from the ups man, are you sure, can you write down what time it came? >> you have been carrying around this story all your life, what happened, why turn it into a book? >> it was a huge decision.
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it came completely. so many of us carry around this sibling thing in the attic thing. it came to me because something happened in our life which transformed our relationship. it was huge for me and huge for him. we learned how to become a team. and we had, my brother had a crisis and wrote me a letter about it, kind of a stunning letter that came like a time bomb, when he was quite young, barely 50 that he had a rare form of non smoker's lung cancer. it was all typed out like the fruit in a control freak way, a lawyers letter that came by fed excompletely mysterious when we had just been together at
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thanksgiving for 4 or 5 days. i get this manifesto, i am asking you to save my life. my life changed completely when that letter came into my life. then the great task was with how to come together, which we did. again, it was a huge experience. i never thought i would write about it. i didn't think i could bring myself to. >> yet you took notes all the way through? >> of course. i write in a journal almost everyday. i was trying to come up with a new book idea. i wanted to write about this. the first day was to meet with sara to meet about books. we discovered that we both had
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an older brother thing that she had a brother who was as mysterious to her as mine was to me. it was so perfect, cynthia, we had launched on our brothers. we stayed there for the next 3 hours, and closed the cafe. sara said this brother sister thing is huge and no one writes about it, no one talks about it, the affect our brothers and sisters has on us. this is your next book, this is what you need to write. are you kidding me, i could never write anything so personal, never. that is how it started. when you >> when you were working on this, friends, you would talk about my relationship with my difficult older brother, what happened?
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what doors opened up, what did you learn about what people carry around about their siblings? >> it is huge. so many share this. it is like the asian flu. the first year of trying to work on this, i couldn't do it, so i approached it like a reporter. i was dancing around what it was really about, which is the red hot emotions between the 2 of us and where it had come from. i spent a year reporting, interviewing every expert, i flew the london, and the importance of relationships and psychoanalysis. >> did you learn anything? >> for example, by the age of 11, we are spending a third of our time with our brothers and
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sisters far more than we do with our parents, with our friends, and yet it has taken 80 years for psychiatry and family therapy to even say, maybe this is important. so by the time you get to be adults, often you are strangers, you are foreigners. there is a national statistic about 45 to 50 percent of us have challenged relationships that you have, you know, borderline things, 10 percent of people don't speak to their siblings at all. twelve percent are what my brother and i were. you would brace yourself to be
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with your, i would brace myself, my brother would start his tirades and all of these shadow issues. >> as you were hearing the stories of the people you would hear well, all of this academic and intellectual grounding for sibling relationships, then what happened? >> it was a trigger, people would say what are you working on? i would say the story about my brother and me. people would tell me about their stories.
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we are like minnows swimming in the well of childhood as brothers and sisters. one of the great questions for many of us is why can't we see our brother or sister as others see them? there was carl brenner, fantastic apple guy, expert on opera, he was an alpha romantic figure, flew a plane, looked like harrison ford, many lady friends, wine lover connoisseur. why did i think of him as this difficult person and why did he see me as this is his perception, which of course, i am perfectly willing to say that is me, put the mirror up.
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miss know it all, expert, his perception was that little sister always trying to get attention. this is pathetic, we'd get together and fight over everything. it was like we were back fighting in the backseat of the car. first time i went to the apple orchards, we had a huge fight about how to pick his fruit. i was bruising the apple. you are bruising my fruit. it was pathetic. you get stuck in that role playing because you are stamped with children with the roles. >> the character we see in this thing most of the time is pretty objectively difficult, not just somebody who is always