Three years before “Roots” was published I interviewed Alex Haley for nine straight hours in San Francisco. Haley had been writing all night and had taken several showers. He said he thought of writing as a surgical process and that he needed to be clean when he wrote.
I had prepared 160 questions after researching Haley for six months but cake had never crossed my mind. He told me a favorite pastime was to bake a pound cake from scratch, pop it in the oven, pull up a stool and watch the cake through the glass door, speculating on where the first bubble would appear.
As the interview wound down, he was spinning a marvelous story. I leaned closer, intent on each word. The beginning, middle and end were magnificent. I told him so. “Thank you,” he said, “but then I am a storyteller.” He was a man that was generous with his time, wisdom and, in my case, unlimited advice to a young writer.
It is my view Howard Rosenberg (Feb. 12) captured the essence of Alex Haley and did all of us a service. Rosenberg’s article reminds us of some major important aspects of life. Haley would have liked that.
BRUCE C. DAVIS