Ann Louise Bardach is the author of Without Fidel and Cuba Confidential. Before participating in a discussion on whether the Cuban Revolution failed, she talked in the Zócalo green room about the journal she wrote to Napoleon’s mistress as a kid and about the interviews that got away.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
So many peeves to pick from, so few pets. People who give you their colds and flus. I think I may be getting one. I’ll start with that. Landing in Cuba and being told you aren’t allowed in. That’s not good.
Who was your childhood hero?
I used to write a journal to Désirée [Clary], who was Napoleon’s mistress, but I don’t quite think she was my hero or heroine. But oh, I loved Stella Adler, the great acting teacher and coach, and by the time I was 13 I was studying with her.
What’s the interview that got away?
Well I got Fidel. I got some time with Raúl, but I didn’t really get an interview, because Raúl doesn’t give interviews, unless you’re Oliver Stone or Sean Penn. The interviews that get away are people I know too well, and you just can’t play as much hardball journalistically as you would with a head of state.
What’s the last thing that made you laugh?
My husband and I attacking the same fly with fly swatters and hitting each other.
What cheese best describes you?
Hard Dutch gouda. I have no idea why.
How do you procrastinate?
I read and clean.
What’s your favorite Cuban food?
Arroz con pollo.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Know your limitations as well as your talents.
What question are you most tired of answering about Cuba?
How come Fidel’s not dead yet?
What’s your guilty TV-watching pleasure?
The movie channel—TMC.