tv Uli Beutter Cohen Between the Lines CSPAN November 20, 2021 2:00pm-2:47pm EST
from the underground edited by uli beutter cohen. uli beutter cohen is a new york-based documentarian ours have a book review. she is belonging to time and place the writing and photography. she is a sought after speaker and panelist, her work is been featured in print, onto the online bike new york magazine, esquire, beau, literally every publication you ever heard of. uli beutter cohen was in brooklyn you can find her at the ubc at subway book review.
and, if you do not follow her already, what is wrong with you? so is the author of pachinko which is a book you've already loved and read and so has everyone else in your family. >> thank you. >> you are welcome. as well as a nationally best-selling novel writer and resident at amherst college recipient a fellowship from the guggenheim rectal initiative for advanced study she was in new york, hooray, hooray. [applause] so i have written some novels was the cofounder she is asked congratulations. this is a beautiful bowl book,
the hard copy is in transit. it's very apropos it is in transit. it is right on brand for this book tv currently traveling. i think books on a barge is your next instagram. >> books on a barge, no intake that it is mine. >> so i met you when we launched and you interviewed me and emma with the book we were holding. i have known about subway for a while. one of the things i did not know was the first book you saw on the subway. i was wondering if you can start that little anecdote the first book on the subway. >> sure, the first story of subway book review is a long one. i will give you the condensed
version when i arrived in new york like many people who just said goodbye and wanted to start fresh. i do not know where you can find a place that gives you the chance to somewhat start over. i was going to every event you could imagine. i was going to dinners i was going to industry, whatever. really wanted to find a community of people or i could belong and i can find a home. one certain artist group myself. we gathered at my kitchen table before of us every week, i was very diligent. and i held us to it. because born and raised in germany as he gave it name i called accountability group.
but it worked because everyone showed up every wednesday for two hours. what came out of that was me making a promise to myself in front of these people within held me accountable to become very still and to become very curious. to do that in an iconic location in new york. that was like my self assigned artist journey. as i was writing the subway one day, it was the b train goes over the bridge. and it came out of the tunnel. i was one of those days it was well, well, well before the pandemic it was december 23, 2013 is right before christmas i will never forget it. looking out the tunnel was one of those misty mornings with the river is seeming because of super super cold. the train was packed but is also super quiet, remember
those times i see some people nodding we remember when the train was packed so quiet you think you are in church. one person is nodding no one think of the set point is church like, finally can live with that. the other end of the train i spotted a woman and she was holding a book. i became curious what is this person reading? why is subway so quiet right now, what is it trying to tell me why is the statue of liberty gleaming in the sunlight a little bit differently? i felt compelled to go up to this person. could not see the title. i thought let's just talk to a stranger and find out something about their life and so i did i met, no long this way i think she has since moved. on her way to alvin ailey where she was performing which is of course iconic. she was reading catching fire art. again very apropos.
i caught fire that day and became infatuated with the completely nerve-racking exercise of striking up a conversation with a new yorker and giving my filmmaking background and my deep interest in documentaries subway book review came out of that. i don't know was that condensed? that was not convinced that we are. >> it is a condensed version. how many have you done since then? do you know question. >> i do not have an exact number for you but i could give you similar effect. >> please. i have ridden every train line front to back. i have traveled all five boroughs and interviewed over 1000 people. the sampling in the book is 170 -ish.
they're mostly brenda stories. >> amazing. we have these wonderful other panelists here,. >> who are in the book, who are in the book. it's not random they are in the book. [laughter] but i was wondering if you could talk about your i do not want to give it away, which book you will reading in the picture. >> don't give it away. the spirit of the project what was going on when you're reading this book? did you choose reading this book and where you at the subway stop your reading this book? >> i really like this question. >> can you hear me? >> to thank you for moderating up done his job it's really hard. so claps for cara.
and then also i'm here primarily because it is sunday morning and we all have other places to be we are so happy you are here. >> thank you for being here. >> i'm here primarily to raise a flat or what she's doing she's representing you in representing me and the fact that i am the reader and i'm really a subway reader. i feel very connected with this because i guess i grew up on the train and i've been reading on the train. for her at the church for me it's kind of like my office and reading room. right? for most of us. i have to confess i'm still sad when i see people playing games on their phone can i say that is an old person? [laughter] >> this is a safe space. >> my going in trouble for that? to answer the question, i just want to say at that moment, i
was probably in the lowest level of my artistic failure. i started writing seriously when i was 26 and i published at 28. so do any of you guys feel like crab because you're not getting her books published, i am your person. when i was reading i was so moved by the courage of the narrative. i wanted to figure out how do you do that? how do you really, really tell the truth about yourself? what i learn more about his biography as i learned about who wrote about his home, and his background, and i am going to write about clean. as a person of color and also an immigrant there's a real notion that you have to write about the majority in order to be legitimate. [applause] [laughter] think a part of me but do i have to write about white
people with english accents to become a legitimate author? writing about this book i decide i could write about korean immigrants from queens and that's literature two. then they had to work with my own colonized mind and that was really important. >> i want to say something that is one of my favorite quotes. in the interview you said to me the most important people are ordinary people who really care. and i just wanted to point that out is one of the moments that i really truly love and i think about this so much. it's present in the subway for you for me that's present in the book. new putting on the same place gives me life. because i really think that it is so easy to feel that we do not matter. it is so easy to feel that her efforts are futile. time and time again i'm here
to tell you they are not. every effort counts and every person counts. i really want to say this and say i am 40 and this is coming out the year of my fourth decade. so no, it is never too late is always the right time to be yourself. >> at sunday morning we need a little about. >> i went to ask before i moved to the next panel with her question, which train stop and why? i'm sorry i forgot. i live in harlem to 125th street is a very magical station. if you've ever been to the hundred and 20 for three to has most beautiful mosaics on the wall. i encourage you to see it. 125th street and it was considered dangerous to go when i was growing up. but i've been to 124 throughout my life. for me it's a place of james
baldwin and duke ellington, all of the really great new yorkers and great americans. i feel really lucky to live there. can ask for one anecdote? [laughter] whatever you want. [laughter] >> you don't make your family and parents a very special relationship to the subway that did not make it into the book her to have the audio file were making a tiny between the lines of podcast you can listen to on the podcast that subway book review. please tell everyone what your families relationship to the subway is? i'm crazy about it. >> of course there like 14 things i can talk about. yes my parents had a really little jewelry store on broadway when i was growing up. it's smaller than this table. [laughter] my primary memory of my current store was having to negotiate with rats to go to the basement.
[laughter] like porta potty's are kind of nice compared to that. it was important about the store was that my parents customers were peddlers. so street paddlers were very much like working class people who did not have very much money. they had $10 they bought a dollar 50 pair or earrings or five or six pairs of a dollar 50 earrings they can sell $10 on a card table subway. when you're on the city to see peddlers on the street to have little tiny card table storage cd dining table kind of thing, they are selling his little towards a bot, they bought it places like my dad store. whenever i pass them i would think those are my debts customers. that meant a lot to me too think about the thriving economy. now they might be considered not necessarily welcome in certain areas. i really think of it as the
entry point of becoming a merchant. you have a business at the local business i encourage you to support them. [applause] >> clapped for that. >> emma, i was thinking a lot about there is one similarity between what you do you good to see new yorkers in new york through the lens of a people are reading. you could feel people are reading every single day, when they are interested in reading with the subway book review you've seen the eyes of new york through a people are reading. i guess my question is, you feel more optimistic because that is your job? >> i mean yes. but i've always been an optimist. i think if i wasn't, and i would not have open the book. [laughter]
but, that is the best part. i think before we open the bookstore that was really the only part of bookselling that i understood was people walk into your space, and you talk to them about what you love or what they love. and then the two of you together come to an agreement about what they should read next. whether it's their idea, your idea or serendipity. and then they leave and they take that book out into the rest of their lives. >> the reason i ask you that is i think there is a sense and you refer to this in your introduction the book. there is a sense is not a sense there are a lot of terrible things going on in the world. however, in reading this book
and thinking about the job you do i would imagine there is also a consensus that you come to that would be very different than the general sense i think we all live with watching the news, reading the newspaper and i just wonder it's not really a question but i'm curious if you go home at night and say people actually do read. [laughter] who do you own a bookstore obviously i would imagine there is a way in which of bookselling. >> and doing what you do with book review makes you feel differently about the world that we can generally feel on a day-to-day basis. >> i was just looking to see when i did the interview that is in this book. it was like a march or february. >> when i looked it up it was february 27 or 28th. that was in 2020.
this one in the very last people i spoke with in public before than i got horribly sick with covid immediately in march because is riding the train so much. you are one of the very last people i interviewed. we spoke about time a lot. i like to get into bed a little bit more. we spoke about the time before e-mail and you were reminiscing what it would feel like to get your time back. and in hindsight, there are really no coincidences. everything was one 100% in my mind, no question about it. will you give us a little bit of that? >> what is really blowing my mind right now having this conversation, the book i just
happen to be reading i did not put a lot of thought into what i was going to bring to talk about. i don't know why i just said this is the book i'm reading. there was no performative aspect to it. i was reading the idiot and she is amazing, and what we ended up talking about i am a millennial thank you. [laughter] we can talk about all these things which remind us of our
youth and all other modes of communication clears online or talk about the specific payphone it's on 82nd and broadway which is a neighborhood i grew up in. but this was in february. and then starting that ball i was writing a novel at the time, and then put it away because i could not right. i mean i could not write anyway because i was juggling my children and trying to do school, and things like that. but the book i was writing was just not right anyway. just give in the world and the way i felt. when it ended up writing was a time travel novel where he went back to high school. >> i did not know that. [laughter] >> you are right it just goes to show you that everything
you read just goes in. it just goes in and it accumulates. and when you have conversations with people it all stays in there and it is so meaningful. it is so meaningful what you do. too actually talk to people about what they are reading. we did this and is not just like oh, that is where it starts. it's a meaningful conversation why was it great? what did you love about it? how did it speak to you? what did it remind you of? those are the conversations that really connect to the other people. >> yes it's so good it is so good. >> there is an amazing line in the book. two things in the book you reminded me of a very scary
historical fact which is that the internet came to the subway in 2017. i mean if you started seeing people playing games or on their phones more, i remember it and found that really changed the behavior of the platform or the platform behavior. which i'm sure you noticed. >> can i ask both of you a question? too late now adjusted. [laughter] >> my second question, what you are saying, you are really touching upon the idea we becoming obsolete? are books becoming obsolete? and then of course as writers we are freaked out a little bit. at the same time look at you guys we are all here. i know reading is an act of resistance. you guys are young, i am 52 i am sold so full of admiration included me here. [laughter]
i am just a decade behind you. >> that is a long decade. [laughter] >> yes i am in menopause, over sharing. [laughter] >> want ask you guys, what are you thinking when you are thinking am i in a growth industry or in the late industry? i would love to know because you guys are really in the soup right now. >> we are in the culture soup. i've many thoughts on this. readers will solve problems and save the world, i do not say that lightly. we need all of you desperately. i'm a very desperate take on who is a reader and i will share with you. i would love to hear from you if you agree. who believes a person is a reader when they buy a book? write a couple hands are going up. who believes a person is a
reader when they buy the book and actually read it? [laughter] who believes is a lot of hands thank you. who believes the person is a reader who buys the book, read the book and then talks about the book. okay that is less hands. the point is to me, you are not a reader when you buy a book and put on the shelf because it's pretty, i get it there very sexy they photograph well the best case scenario they photographed a lot with this cover. as i was he not the purpose. you are a reader when you let the story infiltrate your system like we have been saying but then you make change about it. who do not speak about what just infiltrated your system to other people you have not completed the reading journey. because that allows you. reading is linking up
realities, right? becoming a multidimensional being. that is why say a reader needs to complete their journey and a reedy hundred reader needs to be fellow journey people with others. you are going to link up your realities, you are going to share them. that is how you're going to problem solve and that is how you're going to save the world. the world is not just one place the world is many places as many as there are people and use. am i in an industry that is diminishing? absolutely not. are we counseling under threat? yes because her conversations are shifting and how were having conversations or shifting. and how we are talking to each other's changing. so i hope, and i will hand the mic to you, readers will continue to do what we have always done. writers will continue to do it we've always done which is open up worlds not just for
ourselves but for other people. [applause] i was actually going to read this quote from your book that you just answered is the act of writing is not complete when you as an individual closes the book the real expenses complete when you start to talk with someone else about it which i thought was a very profound statement. i think young people are reading a lot. and i think young people are reading physical books. i think anything that is not extremely easy always get people i'm not a pessimist about it it's just a fact. i do think there's something you called attention to in your book that the irony of the subway being the only place where new yorkers stand still like on the platform is not lost on me because it is the only place where i stand
still. i do think standard standing still is under threat. i do actually think the best remedy for that is reading. if people can realize that, which takes a lot of work. the author's job is not to do that the author's job is to rights. it's our job to remind people there is a lot of psychic and psychological magic and spirituality and reading. i just think that will not go away. we just need to remind people of that i think. the reason we embellish it as i need to sit down for my myself to sit down and sit still. and there is no better, tv is not that i love to be a work on tv but tv is not that. your phone is certainly not
back. and so, while i agree with you reading does start with conversation, i think the active reading the solo act of reading is like meditation. i really do think people my age. i am certainly not the youngest person around. i do think people yearn for that. especially those that grew up with phones or get me out of this. i have an instagram book club i am last person to say this. >> know you're right. >> still, i need to be still. a book is the best form of still i think. >> i have a question for all of you on that note. i think that is a beautiful and thank you for putting it that way. for me the writers are the allegorists who are creating and summarizing and people like us are the channels in the media to put it back out
into the world. and then all of the readers themselves. i have a question for everyone on this panel, i want the you getting still these days because i am having a hard time. >> things got a lot easier for me in september when my children went back to school. [laughter] sure. now everything seems possible again. like work, writing, thinking, exercising, what ever it is all those things seem possible again. breathing has always been my favorite form of escape. i don't mean just escapist books, but just give me
a break from my existence and swap me into another one. i fully admit that on i would say just quiet, no screaming children and books. that is it. i feel very boring most of the time. i think other people used the pandemic to develop other interests. but i didn't. [laughter] no sourdough, not one sourdough. just books.
>> i think the question is really complicated. i can tell you very quickly i become still because i read and meditate that is very important. i read, i meditate and i want to get still because i usually have a problem which is anxiety, right? before the anxiety what is the thing making me anxious? i find books are really tricky and really, really amazing tiny devices i can solve all these problems. i wrote an essay about this for the times this year end i can't remember when but april or may for the book review. and i'm mentioning it because i know all of us have all of these problems. but there is not a book that is not addressed whatever problem you have. : : : >> the problem is, and i go what book addresses that problem.
it actually solves all the fucking problems. [laughter] your challenge is to ask all the really smart people and all your friends, hey, i have problem x. let me tell you something, whatever article you find on the internet on your phone, you'll be skimming that shit, and you're not going to get it. you're not. and somebody really smart out there has really thought through whatever our problem is and has written a book about it. and it usually took several thousand years to write that book. [laughter] and i'm so grateful, i'm so grateful. aristotle said, you know what? you're having anxiety because you can't figure out what, i'm like, he wrote a book at that. [laughter] it doesn't even have to be a recent book. and you can get it for free in a
library. so i do think to get still, i do have to ask what's causing me to feel unstill, and there is a book. [applause] >> that's why self-help is not a general re, it's the genre. [laughter] i was listening to all of you, and i was like, wow, this really turned into a book talk -- [laughter] in a good way. i'm very inspired. i have one -- how much -- do we have questions -- >> are we asking questions from the audience? >> yeah, there's a microphone. >> oh, great. okay, let's discourse. let's discuss. should i ask one more question in. >> time to get ready. >> if you have a question, think about it and you'll ask it. >> yeah. >> i just want to know, i'm so curious, and i got very emotional thinking about this panel because i, i really love the subway a lot, and i will
never leave new york. i'm saying it right now, don't -- you're not going to see me living in l.a -- >> it's on c-span concern. [laughter] >> and i think so much of what the soul is, is the subway. truly. i think that's what differentiates. i mean, you have other metros, in any case, i can be extremely idealistic about the subway, and then i can see very upsetting things on the subway. from the subway -- and the sunway, i think --ing subway, i guess my question for all of you, what is your relationship with the subway, and did it change during the pandemic? which i can guess the answer to, but what is it like right now. like, has it gone through a transformation post-pandemic for you. like, in terms of your relationship with it. it's a big question. >> well, i mean, so i will say
and i know this is an extremely privileged answer, but i right now, i walk everywhere. you know, when i grew up, i used to talk the subway 45 minutes to school every day, and i took the subway everywhere. but now i walk to to i bookstore, and i walk to my kids' school and home, and that's just my little triangle. so for me now when i take the subway, it's like going to disneyland. [laughter] i mean,st thrilling. >> which ride? is it the hog are ride? -- log ride? [laughter] >> yeah, i mean, i just, you know, it feels like going to a museum, you know? it feels like looked at all these faces, look at these, look at these places and faces that i have passed through a thousand
times in my life. i love -- i mean, it's, like, i could take the subway just to take is -- take the subway. >> i have two quick things. one is this really creepy person on the subway, if you ever see me and i'm staring at you, it's not personal. [laughter] i'm so so fascinated by people o are on the subway. i want to do this thing, but i don't because i don't want to go to jail -- [laughter] you might see somebody having a hard time, because you can tell. you're so close to people on the subway. i literally kind of want to go, like, it's going to be okay. and i'm like, no, you can't do that, because that's wrong. [laughter] so i'm the person who's always giving money away on the subway. and i have to kind of train myself. so i have this practice where i read this actually right after 9/11. there was a priest who was doing this, that he would always carry
ten singles in his wallet. not in his wallet, in his pocket. he wouldn't have to pull out his wallet. and he would give away the ten singles per day. >> yes. >> and i remember always thinking -- the so i try to keep sometimes loose change because where i don't want to have to pull out my wallet because i have been the victim of a crime, and i do know what that's all about. please be careful. so that's one thing. the second thing is i've been really sad because the environment, as we know, is really such a important issue. it's the most important issue, i think, for the world right now. and when i saw on twitter all the photographs of uptown subways becoming flooded and downtown subways becoming flooded, i thought the world really doesn't understand that's not an everyday occurrence. it's obviously something that we need to address,es one i feel like those images did so much damage for the subway. and i feel like we as new yorkers have to go out there and
say, you know, we're okay. we are going to fix it, but it's a safe place, you know? that's something that's very, very disturbing to me. >> yeah. and i think that the subway, i think like new york in a certain way the subway isn't always -- it works. and that's huge. [laughter] a sense of, like, it brings millions of people -- we all lament, like, it's decrepit and needs fixing and it's flood -- you know, but it works. >> and it's fast. >> and that is enough lots of times. >> it's also for everyone. >> and it's for everyone. >> that is what makes it such an important place. the subway is truly democratic because we're all on it. and i have so many -- i love this question, i have so many thoughts on it. but i think the foundational thought, for me, is what the subway teaches me time and time
again, right, like i'm here before you in this cute little pink dress and the fluffy arms becausest the october fest season, and i am german. but, you know, sometimes people think i don't really do this work because how could i as a woman, flight and i just want to say i do this work because i'm tough as shit, and what's made me tough is new york city. but i also try to be as open-hearted as i can be, and that is also what new york city has taught me. and the subway, to me, encompasses that and what it makes me think over and over again is the lesson of accept all, reject none. and that is what has allowed me to do my work for seven years. because, of course, i've been attacked, obviously i've been assaulted, of course i've escaped projectile vomit by a millimeter, right? of course i've been yelled at. of course everything horrible i
have witnessed, people fighting, fortunately no real bodily harm i've witnessed myself, but we know that has happened on the subway. the tremendous amount of displacement and people without a permanent residence, the tremendous amount of people in need, of course i see all of that. it makes my work more challenging, but i do believe it makes my work better because that is truly what accept all, reject none means. and when you said it feels -- to see people in trouble and to feel like you want to go up to them, in many ways that's what i do. it's not that these readers are in trouble the, but they're certainly trying to solve something, and i want to recognize that. and that is why i strike up a conversation, because to me the book is really a portal into someone's mind and into not just who they are, but also who they want to become. and the subway is the ideal
place for that because it's where we are in transit. we're on our way, but we haven't arrive ared yet. and that -- arrived yet. and that, to me, makes it absolutely magical. [applause] >> and for more of that, must buy between the line: story from the underground. i do want to open it up, is there any questions. >> also, i want to the take a photo of all of you because you're stunning and beautiful, and the sun is kissing you now. i'm going to ask you to give just a big brooklyn wave. >> yeah, give it. >> oh, my god! gonna cry! thank you. you're the best. >> are there any questions in we have a microphone. >> please, somebody. i know, please come up. just come up, just come up. we're all here together, we're all one community -- >> and tell us your name. >> my name is ashley.
>> hi, ashley. >> i just want to know what everyone is reading right now. >> i think -- we're good. thank you, ashley. >> and her shirt says what's more pumped than public libraries? has a great -- >> oh! [applause] pleasure. >> and don't be scared for the person who wants to ask the next question, come up to talk. >> i'm reading, like, four books right now. i'm, i've been reading a a lot of crime. i'm reading a book called "the wall" which is a mystery by mary roberts reinhart that was written in the 1930s. and it's very cozy. it's cozy. it's called "the wall." >> i just finished a couple books, and i'm considering what to start the next. so i will share one that i finished recently, it's called "the hidden messages in water."
i'm obsessed with water. i think water is where all of answers lie. we are all water. we have been water, we will be water again. i also just lost my feline friend of 18 years, so i need solace. i will take book recommendations for solace. after this panel i will be standing here and letting you all tell me where i should go with that. but hidden messages in water, manages it's such an oldie and a goody, and if you can't picked it up in a while, do look to it. it is so fantastic e. it's a japanese photographer who gave different messages to water and then photographed its crystal line state depending on what the message was. >> oh. so i just finished "minute's daughter" by ashley ford, who's actually in this book, so i recommend that highly. it's a beautiful memoir about a daughter and her dad who was in prison for a long time. that secret was kept from her. and reading the galley for eric
kim's new cookbook which is sort of a memoir too. eric kim. another korean cookbook, the korean vegan is also coming out. i think it's next week. i just finished the galley for house of chow by samantha chang, and that's a novel. terrific. terrific. plenty of choices. >> yeah, my problem is that i read everything six months -- >> i know. [laughter] >> we get galleys. >> but i right now am reading a collection of stories by megyn may hue bergman that that comes out in april maybe called how strange the season. and it's very, it's not about water -- [laughter] but it's not not about water. like, it's about -- they're short stories, literally short stories, but it's the very much about birds and water and the environment. and it's so beautiful. and i just, wherever i read
short story selections i think about my hierarchy of difficulty of writing which, like, starts at poetry at the top and then goes to short stories. and then i don't know what to do with nonfiction. nonfiction's after that. and novels are at bottom because they're the easiest, obviously, because you have the most time, and you can do whatever you want. >> we have time for one more -- are you sure? >> young sir, please approach. >> young sir, yeah. >> hi, i'm -- [inaudible] >> all right, whatever. >> is there a certain kind of book that you think works well for reading on the subway? >> great question. he said is there a kind of book that works best for reading on the subway in. >> all of them. i have watch people who -- make it manageable to carry. i will leave now and come back to you with maybe a better
answer, but i would say all of them. >> i really like reading things that are propull sieve, but the problem is i miss my stop a lot. [laughter] here i am in brooklyn, i meant to go downtown. [laughter] i've been on wrong train. >> right. i've tone that, yeah. >> 100%. all of them. read all of them and then, obviously, i want to sell type for just a moment because i've been told i should sell type more, so i'm going the try to practice that right now. i'm going to be right over there at the signing tent. if you just arrived, my book is currently stuck the on a barge, but you can preorder it with books are imagine you can. magic. and to give back to this beautiful community, i have brought with me a limited amount of hats. so while supplies last, if you preorder a book today the, you get a free freaking hat. so i need youd to do this
because also selling books is very difficult. [laughter] and i would like to take this all the way to the top not for myself, but just show everyone that the people in this book matter the most. pleads help me, i need your help with that. [laughter] >> yeah. so we have fiction we have nonfiction and, of course, we have the yellow hat that says open book for all of you who are like me and just can't decide. >> well, i just want to thank all of you for coming on a sun morning. thank you total brooklyn book festival, which is an incredible event. there's a paper that said something that i'm supposed to say, but i don't have it. >> i stole your paper. but you already said everything. it's that we're going to be over there. thank you for coming, and we have to bring our name tags. >> and emma will be signing too the, so come get your books. >> thank