Interviews with Famous Dead People
by Paul Kocak
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to interview a famous person — a famous dead person? Putting logistical hurdles aside, what might you ask a notable figure from history? Would the person answer your queries? Would they be offended or flattered? This entertaining and provocative present-day compilation takes a leap into the past. Five questions are posed to each personage. Whether shamefully or heroically, all the interviewees made an imprint on the faded pages of history, some more notably than others. The five questions vary from subject to subject. The answers seek to capture the personality of the person being interviewed. Many names will be familiar to all readers; others will be obscure, previously unknown to the eavesdropping reader. (It’s a quirky and expansive list: from Mae West to Mary Magdalene, Soupy Sales to St. Francis, Torquemada to Tony Dow, Larry Doby to Dorothy Day. How about: Mikhail Gorbachev, Madame Chiang-Kai Shek, Claes Oldenburg, Johannes Vermeer, Buddha, George Balanchine, Marco Polo, Phil Ochs, Notorious B.I.G., Stanley Kubrick, Ernst Lubitsch — and more!) Some interviewed luminaries (there are 33, give or take) see the conversation as an opportunity to redress a grievance, correct a wrong, or deliver a message. These imaginary dialogues with shades of yesteryear make no claim of historical accuracy. But who’s to say? Who doesn’t deserve or desire a mulligan, a do-over, to set the record straight? So, buckle up for a rollicking ride through a portal into the past. Perhaps this venture will spark your curiosity, sending you to a library or a search engine to learn more. Alternatively, your perspective toward a notable traveler to the other shore might be disturbed. Such provocations might prove unsettling, or enlightening. No matter. You’re welcome to engage in your own conversations, assuming you can get through and assuming the deceased will engage in conversation. Let us know.
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