well, tara, i loved your book. itâ€™s an amazing story. and even though you’d had almost no formalschooling, you managed to get into byu. you have to learn algebra. how did that come together? i had no idea what education was. i had never set foot in a classroom before. but i really loved to sing,
and i became obsessed with this idea of goingto college so that i could learn how to sing. and algebra became a thing i had to do inorder to do that thing. for me it took me to brigham young university, and then i discovered history there and that took me to cambridge, and then at cambridge i discovered language, and then i wrote a book. and, you know, it goes from one thing to theother.
and if you look at your family, you and your two brothers who chose to goout and go to college, have done very, very well. and there definitely is a rural versus urbanelement in it. three of you that got very educated and othersthat kept the same values. do you see this polarization as a problem? i do feel like this division is a problem, but i think probably you’ve hit on the mostdisturbing part of it, which is that the fault lines are increasinglyalong educational lines.
so, people with the degree think one thing and people without think another. and then there’s quite a lot of hostilitybetween the two groups. people who used to disagree about things suddenly now think the other side is somehowin bad faith, and they don’t even recognize the other sideas particularly human. and i find that really disturbing. i find it disturbing that education has becomea part of it. we say that education is a universal right
and everyone should have it, but in practice it isn’t really. certain people get access to a lot and other people don’t get access to verymuch. no, it’s true, i think education is really just a processof self-discovery, of developing a sense of yourself and whatyou think. but the more that we self-segregate, and schools become reflections of people’shomogeneity,
then i think schools themselves become instrumentsof division. i think of education as this great mechanism of connecting and equalizing, and it can be a little bit frightening when it becomes an instrument of that division. you know, one unfortunate trend seems to be that the highly educated, politically thinkingone set of thoughts and the rest of the country are thinking otherthoughts, and they don’t even communicate very well.
itâ€™s like two americas. and people have no idea what the other side, how they live, what they think, what their lives are like. it’s just completely divided. and so, what i really want to do is tell stories. i kind of have to believe that if we had more ways that we can understand and communicate witheach other,
that i believe that that would do a lot to help us communicate and work on what ithink is the central problem with our democracyright now. which is that the two sides no longer feel like they’re even part of thesame country. i kind of want to make the idahoâ€™s and theohioâ€™s and the alabamaâ€™s a little bit more accessible to the placeslike new york, to the places where that way of life is so foreign and almost unimaginable.
and the book’s done fantastically. it’s really resonated with people. yeah, no one’s more surprised than me.