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Roy Kesey

by Susan Henderson on September 6, 2006

A 5-year-old discusses the importance of her father’s book.

Very briefly, before I get to today’s interview, I want to tell you that I have a photo essay up at Brad Listi’s TheNervousBreakdown.com. It’s about my greyhound, Steve, and some other things. Okay, on to today’s show.

Chloe is five and she is one of my favorite people on the planet. She lives in China with her little brother, Thomas, her beautiful diplomat mother, and her father, Roy Kesey, author of NOTHING IN THE WORLD – one of those rare books that both Mr. Henderson and I loved.

Chloe knows a lot about the world already: that HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON is the best book ever, that lemon meringue pie is better than carrots, that you should be nice to rabbits, that little brothers are fun for playing Memory and not for putting together puzzles, that DORA THE EXPLORER and ELASTIGIRL rule, and that if you spend the day dancing like Twyla Tharp, you can say that day was well-spent.

But what does she know of her father’s newly published book?

Today, Chloe is going to talk about this very important book, and other things she finds equally important.

*

INTERVIEW WITH CHLOE, take 1, Dad as interviewer:

1. What do I do all day?

You look at people. You write some books. You do exercise like the ones Thomas does, the push-ups. You take pictures of orange flowers sometimes.

2. Do you like my office?

A little bit.

3. How could it be better?

With a lamp. A blue lamp, with green.

4. What’s that picture you’re drawing?

There’s flowers and the sun and a tree and a house. And some grass. It doesn’t have any more stuff. In the house, Tom is playing, and I’m drawing, and Mommy is playing with me and Tom, and you’re working on the computer. Then we’ll have lunch. Chicken, rice, soup, papa a la huancaína and gingerbread boys.

5. And what’s this other picture?

It’s of all the colors. Actually, it isn’t anything. I was thinking it was just a page with all the colors. I did the green at the end because I don’t really like green so I wanted it at the end. The best colors are pink and black. I choose them every day. This part here looks like a stick.

6. Of all the trips we’ve taken so far, which one was your favorite?

Hawaii. I liked the trees and the sharks.

7. Um. The sharks?

Yes. Actually, I didn’t really see it but Crazy Dave saw it, and that made me run away, and that was fun. I still wasn’t scared, though. I ran because it was in the water and I didn’t want it to eat me, but really there wasn’t one.

[Interviewer’s Note: Crazy Dave is Chloe’s uncle, David Clark, who will be hearing some rather sharp words from me about all of this shark business, believe you me.]

8. Do you like my book?

It’s great.

9. Have you read it?

No.

 

10. What do you think it’s about?

Pears? I can’t think of anything else.

11. Do you like the cover?

Yes. I like fruit.

12. Do you think writing books is easy or hard?

It’s hard but fun.

13. If you wrote a book, what would it be about?

Maybe about Dora and sea-horses and turtles. Dora would ask the map for some help. I would read it to my brother.

[I wonder, does Chloe know I met Dora in real life?]

14. What would be on the cover?

Blue flowers and the sun. (Holds up Buzz Lightyear action figure.) Look, Buzz is doing yoga. Little baby yoga.

15. What’s baby yoga?

(Pulls her shirt up over her head.) Look, I’m not here anymore.

16. Honey, are you bored?

You can’t ask me because I’m not here.

17. Want some tomatoes?

No.

18. Some onions?

Daddy!

19. Some ice cream?

Yes! But after lunch, right?

20. Exactly.

INTERVIEW WITH CHLOE, take 2, Mom via stuffed animal (cheetah) as interviewer:

1. What do you want to be when you grow up?

A mermaid or a princess. Actually I already have the new pearls of a princess, so . . . But I’m actually going to be a mermaid.

2. What does Daddy do all day?

He reads books. He has a lot of them. He works and works and works on the computer for the university.

3. Do you like Daddy’s book?

Yes.

4. What is it about?

I don’t know.

5. If you write a book, what will it be about?

Lots of things. But actually I don’t like to read. I like movies. I want to be like Jimmy Jet the TV Set.

6. The boy whose head turns into a television because he watches it too much?

Yes.

7. Chloe, that poem is about how it’s bad to watch too much television.

I know.

8. Oh.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Katrina Denza September 6, 2006 at 12:53 pm

Cloe is so smart! And what an artist. Thanks for this amazing interview! :)

PS. I like Dora too.

Kat

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Katrina Denza September 6, 2006 at 12:54 pm

oops–sorry Chloe. I spelled your name wrong in my first comment.

Kat

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Lance Reynald September 6, 2006 at 1:05 pm

wow. that was the best. I think I want her to do my interview.

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Jordan September 6, 2006 at 3:21 pm

She’s a fantastic kid. I get the feeling her Dad learns a lot from her :)

J

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Pia September 6, 2006 at 5:29 pm

Ha! Chloe rocks.

What do I have to do to get my nieces and nephews to call me Crazy Pia?

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Myfanwy Collins September 6, 2006 at 6:27 pm

I read this earlier today and forgot to comment. She is darling and so bright.

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Myfanwy Collins September 6, 2006 at 6:27 pm

Oh, and I loved your piece on Steve, too. He’s lucky to have found such a great home.

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Robin Slick September 6, 2006 at 8:14 pm

(1) Your piece at Nervous Breakdown is brilliant and if there is a better name for a male dog than Steve, I sure as hell can’t think of it;
(2) I really need to order Roy’s book (will do that now);
(3) I want Chloe to come live with me for a week — I miss having a brilliant, beautiful five year old girl in the house…my twenty year old now treats me like I’m the toddler;
(4) I am going to try the trick of pulling my shirt up over my head next time I want to “disappear” except for the fact that people will start vomiting and screaming when I do that so not only will I not be left alone, it will be even noisier and I’ll have yet another complex;
(5) How gorgeous is Roy’s wife!

That about covers it for me.

(No one is home. I just lifted up my shirt but bah! I’m still here)

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Matt Bell September 7, 2006 at 4:17 am

OK, I’ve read–and written–a fair bit about Roy’s book, but somehow this is the absolute best interview I’ve read about it. Awesome. Chloe’s a cool kid.

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Susan Henderson September 7, 2006 at 1:21 pm

Hey, everyone, yesterday was the first day back to school for my kids, so I’m just now catching up. Kesey is in Nanjing with a poor internet connection but says he’ll stop by and comment when he’s back in Beijing.

Kat – I agree that Chloe is smart, but what I love best is she’s got attitude. She melts me.

Lance – Chloe will have to check her busy schedule.

Jordan – I get that feeling, too.

Pia – Good question. I hope Kesey answers it.

Myf – Thank you for reading about Steve. Mr. Henderson’s in Manhattan with him today – he took Steve to the production meeting for the new movie he’s working on.

Robin – Ha! Choking on my coffee.

Matt – I loved what you wrote about Kesey’s book. I tend to take the US Magazine approach to my interviews and leave the scholarly analysis to thos more capable.

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Terry September 7, 2006 at 5:45 pm

That was obviously fabulous.

I don’t know what else to say.

And I want to read Chloe’s book with blue flowers and the sun on the cover.

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Susan Henderson September 7, 2006 at 10:43 pm

T – I want to read that book, too. Like you, t.

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Roy Kesey September 8, 2006 at 2:08 am

Hey, everybody. Like Sue says, I’m currently down in Nanjing, doing research for a book thingie and missing my wife and son and interviewee like crazy. Many thanks to all for the kind words. Lance: Chloe takes Visa, American Express and lemon pie. Jordan: yes, daily. Pia, the answer is: pretend there are sharks everywhere. Robin: thanks, and I hope you like it, I’ll tell Lu you said so, and sure, You can have Chloe for a week, or even longer, the day she turns 13 and gets all snotty and says things like, “Go multiply yourself by zero, Dad.” Thanks, Matt, and I totally agree. Terry: you’re first in line for a signed copy. And thanks again, Sue, for the space, and for the great idea.

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Avital September 8, 2006 at 2:10 pm

Please pass this on to Chloe:
Chloe, you are already a mermaid, and you’re lovelier than lovely.

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Susan Henderson September 8, 2006 at 3:30 pm

Kesey – You are the best for stopping by. Thank you. And also, my pleasure.

Avital – Avital, you’re here!

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