…but this one, if I do say so myself, is unusually interesting. Lee Mergner, the editor-in-chief of JazzTimes, interviewed me via e-mail a couple of months ago about the writing of Pops, and his questions were both wide-ranging and astute:
How do you avoid hagiography with a subject so remarkable as Armstrong?
By telling the truth about him. Louis Armstrong was a great and lovable man, but he wasn’t a saint, and he wouldn’t have wanted to be portrayed as one. That’s something he makes clear in his own autobiographical writings. It was immensely important to Armstrong to make sure that posterity would know the whole truth about him. That’s why he took care to preserve his personal papers, and why he spent so much time writing the letters and manuscripts in which he told his side of the story of his life. He wasn’t afraid of telling the truth about himself, and that inspired me to do the same.
The interview has just been posted on the magazine’s Web site and you can read it here.