Lucinda Franks interviews Robert Morgenthau on his astonishing decision
ROBERT: Somebody had to do it.
LUCINDA: Why your wife?
ROBERT: I didn’t want to do all that work. I thought it would be easier if she did the work and…
LUCINDA: (aside: I thought it was because you loved me!)
ROBERT: …and because she already knew all about me.
LUCINDA: What was it like reading about yourself in the book?
ROBERT: Very revealing.
LUCINDA: (aside: can’t you say something intelligent?) How did it make you feel. You must have had feelings.
ROBERT: If you marry an investigative reporter, you have to expect to be investigated. However, that’s not why I married her.
LUCINDA: What does that have to do with my question? Do you know you’re acting just like the person portrayed in Ms. Franks’ memoir! You hide behind a bulletproof wall.
ROBERT: You’re the first reporter who’s interviewed me and yelled at me at the same time.
LUCINDA: Mr. Morgenthau, memoirs are controversial these days; people are accused of making things up. Did you think Ms. Franks was faithful to the truth?
ROBERT: At first I didn’t. I thought she got it all screwed up. But when I questioned the accuracy of a passage, she would bring out her journals and the notes she kept at the time would bear out her version.
LUCINDA: What was it like having Ms. Franks ask you for information?
ROBERT: Like being pulled by a team of wild horses. Questions, questions, day and night. It reminded me of the first time she interviewed me, before we were married. She asked so many questions I thought she was either the dumbest or the smartest reporter I’d met.
LUCINDA: And when you read her story, you decided she was the smartest.
ROBERT: That’s essentially correct.
LUCINDA: Would you have written the memoir any differently?
ROBERT: I never would have written it at all. I never have liked to look back. For instance, I’ve never talked about…
LUCINDA: (aside: Don’t give away what’s in the book!) Mr. Morgenthau, you read all the drafts. Was there anything you didn’t like?
ROBERT: I didn’t like the explicit parts.
LUCINDA: You mean the sex? Well, she took that out… mostly.
ROBERT: The Prelude takes place in our bed
LUCINDA: Yes, but when she read that section to her high school alumnae group, you were pinching your lips trying not to smile.
ROBERT: How do you know I was trying not to groan?
LUCINDA: Mr. Morgenthau, let’s get back to my question: do you wish Ms Franks had written the book differently?
ROBERT: If I did, I’d be afraid to say so.
LUCINDA: (aside: Will you be serious, Bob!)
ROBERT: I am being serious. Writing is a very solitary profession, writers are insecure, they need lots of compliments. I remember the late Arthur Gelb saying that he never read his wife’s work because no matter what he said about it, she’d complain ‘you don’t like it!’
ROBERT: But I think we became very close writing this memoir. I feel very close to you.
LUCINDA: Thank you sweetheart!… Do you remember when Ms Franks, asked you, it was at that romantic restaurant in Millbrook, if she could write about you?
ROBERT: Yes, I was having pork chops.
LUCINDA: You put down your fork and you looked up and you said very shyly ‘Do you think anybody would read it?’
ROBERT: I don’t remember putting down my fork. They were delicious those chops, we have to go back there.
LUCINDA: If you don’t like to look back, how come you remember every meal you’ve eaten!
ROBERT: That’s an exaggeration. Not every one. Not what I had at the new steakhouse in Fishkill. Except I never order chicken livers and I think that night I did.
LUCINDA: (Puts notebook down) Thank you, Mr. Morgenthau, this has been, well, very revealing. Though I don’t know quite what you said or how I’m going to make a story of it.
ROBERT: You’ll think of something. You’re a great writer. That’s why I picked you.