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Filmmaker, Novelist John Sayles

Jan 9, 2006 (Talk of the Nation)

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Before his movie career, filmmaker John Sayles honed his storytelling skills on the printed page. His novel Union Dues, originally published in 1977, is reissued this month. It tells the story of a father and son from a West Virginia mining town in 1969 and touches on issues seen in his later work: the life of laborers and the radical politics of the 1960s.

In all his work, Sayles tries to capture the essence of American life. The filmmaker is not afraid to take on the complexities of American culture, and his stories are often loaded with characters pitted against their setting.

"There is that tension always that I want to create between what's this beautiful thing in the background and what's being said in the foreground, and is there any match to it," Sayles explains. "Or what's this awful thing in the background and what are these beautiful words in the foreground. You can't take the people out of a picture, and it's always commenting on what the people are saying."

Sayles joins guest host Frank Stasio to talk about his work in both celluloid and print.

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