Predictably, Tom Wolfe speaks about American culture, particularly the culture of New York City in the eighties that is described in his Bonfire Of The Vanities. He also makes his own predictions about the future. In 1988, Wolfe thought that the twenty-first century would be something of a “hangover” from the excesses of the twentieth century. Considering what happened in New York thirteen years later, it is a sobering thought.
Other interviews that I found quite enjoyable include E.L. Doctorow - who discusses the then current state of fiction writing. Also Joseph Heller, author of the classic Catch 22 - who compares the U.S. to ancient Greece. Strangely enough, it is the female African American writer Toni Morrison who saddened me the most. Her belief in the all conquering power of love probably sounded quaint even then, but today it is just painful to listen to.
The fourth DVD of the set is all bonus material, some 205 minutes to be exact. These interviews originally aired on NOW with Bill Moyers and Bill Moyers' Journal, between the years 2002 - 2010. All eight of the subjects Moyers speaks to here are women, and include such luminaries as Alice Walker (The Color Purple) and Louise Erdrich (Shadow Tag).
Besides the fourth DVD, the other extras are text-based book lists for the authors included in the original series, and biographies for those included in the final segments. There is also a booklet included titled “A Viewers Guide” with more information about the series.
Altogether, the set runs over ten and a half hours. For fans of Bill Moyers, the various authors, or simply of very engaging intellectual give and take, I recommend A World Of Ideas: Writers. Bill Moyers and all of the people he speaks to share a wealth of thoughts that are as relevant to today as they were in 1988.