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Anderson Cooper Vanity Fair

Anderson Cooper Vanity Fair

"The past is all around, and in New Orleans I can’t pretend it’s not."

"For so long I tried to separate myself from my past. I tried to move on, forget what I’d lost, but the truth is, none of it’s ever gone away," writes CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper in an exclusive excerpt for Vanity Fair from his new memoir, Dispatches from the Edge (HarperCollins). The horror of Katrina forced Cooper to confront his painful past, including the death of his father when he was 10 and his brother Carter’s suicide in 1988. "The past is all around, and in New Orleans I can’t pretend it’s not."

Cooper writes that his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, once told him that she survived the traumas of her own childhood because she always felt that inside she had a crystal core, a diamond nothing could get at or scratch. "I’d felt that same rock form inside me when my father died [in 1978]. In New Orleans, however, it started to crack."

Cooper writes of the effect the loss of his father had on him and his older brother, Carter. "After the funeral, both of us retreated into separate parts of ourselves, and I don’t think we ever truly reached out to each other again. I can’t remember ever discussing my father’s death with my brother. Perhaps I did, but I have no memory of it."

Following his father’s death, "the world seemed a very scary place, and I vowed not to let it get to me. I wanted to be autonomous, protect myself from further loss. I was only 10, but I decided I had to earn my own money, so I could save for a future I couldn’t predict." Although his mother was wealthy, Cooper "got a job as a child model and opened a bank account," because he "didn’t want to have to rely on someone else."

Moments before Carter Cooper leapt to his death from his mother’s balcony, he asked her, "Will I ever feel again?" "It didn’t make sense to me at the time. I’d even forgotten he said it until my mother recently reminded me," Cooper writes. "We both had tried to cauterize our pain, push our pasts behind us. If only I could have told him that he wasn’t the only one. I abandoned him long before he abandoned me.

"I see that now. I could have reached out to him, talked with him, but he didn’t make it easy, and I was a kid, and had myself to worry about."

Self-reliance was a recurrent theme in Cooper‘s childhood, and when he was in high school he began taking "survival courses: monthlong mountaineering expeditions in the Rockies, sea kayaking in Mexico," because, he says, "I needed to prove to myself that I could survive on my own." As for his brother, "I assumed he’d come up with his own way to deal with the loss. I thought he could take care of himself."

Cooper tries not to imagine the last moments of his brother’s life, he says. "That’s the thing about suicide. No matter how much you try to remember how that person lived his life, you can’t forget how he ended it. It’s like driving by a car smashed on the side of the road. You can’t resist craning your neck to take stock of the damage."

People often ask Cooper if he was close to his brother. "Inevitably I get that question," he writes. "Sometimes it’s right after a person finds out about my brother’s death; sometimes it’s only after weeks of their knowing me. Were we close? Not so close that I knew he was going to kill himself. Not so close that I understood why he did."

Cooper writes that he keeps some of his brother’s things and will go through them someday. "I keep the pictures, as well as his scribbled notes and magazines—the things I found in his apartment. I tell myself that one day I’ll go through them and perhaps discover some clue that will help me understand, help me answer the question: Were we close?"

Although his childhood was a privileged one, Cooper writes, and his mother played host to the likes of Truman Capote and Andy Warhol, "I didn’t know my mother was famous until I was about 12. I was in middle school when she designed a line of jeans that became wildly successful. On the street, suddenly people began to stare at us and point. My brother and I thought it was funny. We’d count how many times we saw our mother’s name stitched on the back pocket of somebody’s pants."

CNN’s Anderson Cooper reflects on family loss, his brother’s suicide, and the horror of Katrina in an exclusive excerpt from his new memoir in the June issue of Vanity Fair hitting newsstands in New York and L.A. on May 3 and nationally on May 9.

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  • stefania

    i heart anderson cooper

  • FunMe

    Cool guy too. Would be nice if he would finally just come out as gay. He has so much money, why does he care?

  • Lohan Roberto

    gay gay gay

  • Frenchy

    *****Anderson Cooper*****has a very interesting life, and facinating and stylish mother, and a legenday family history, The Vanderbilts. American aristocracy. The Kennedy’s have nothing on the Vanderbilts. His mother’s story alone has inspired books and movies. Yes he’s gay, put that’s part of the story of the Vanderbilts. You can find quite a few homosexuals and sadly, a few too many suicides.

  • cindy2

    Now talk about a person with an infectious laugh, Anderson Cooper can make me laugh when he has his "hehehe" laughs. I miss him with Jack Cafferty. Jack is such a curmudgeon with sardonic humor. I didn’t always like Anderson, but I gained respect for him actually from his days on CNN’s morning program (no, I’m still not admitting I watch morning shows!). Oh yeah, Anderson has one of the most piercing blue eyes. I agree he should just come out of the closet. It’s such an open secret anyway. The gay population could use another public face that defies the stereotypes (well, he does have style).

  • Miss Bee Haven’06

    Why discredit the Kennedys to give value to the Vanderbilts? The Vanderbilts had more money and possibly as much tragedy but the Kennedys had a political hold on the country that was unprecedented. Two very different families – I don’t think there is a need to compare really.God, I wish he was not gay because I was just fantasizing what a great date he could be. He is beautiful. I would love to date a man like that.Are you sure he is Gay? Please say no. All the great guys are gay – not fair.

  • Congrats VF

    He’s beautiful and his sexual orientation is none of my busienss unless he wants to share that information with me. Coop is a man you listen to because he knows how to finish a sentence and get to the salient points. He’ll make some major differences in our world.

  • Sierra

    God, Anderson is SO beautiful. Look at those eyes and lips! Smart, funny, sexy and stylish, he has it all.

  • Jasmin

    I e-mailed Anderson Cooper A while back to tell him what a brillient NewsCaster He is. He has a heart of Gold , He’s kind, caring, compassionate, and has a beautiful smile. When I’m depressed I look forward to seeing his beautiful piercing blue eye’s and amazing smile. He Reminds me that even in pain, People can smile. Coop and Erica Hill are my two favorite people, those two can get me out of my Depression in a flash. I love gay people, they are the most kindhearted people in this world. God Bless You Anderson and don’t ever change!!!!

  • Locke

    I absolutely agree with # 7 on "he knows how to finish a sentence and get to the salient points. He’ll make some major differences in our world", and # 9 | Jasmin " He’s kind, caring, compassionate, and has a beautiful smile…. beautiful piercing blue eye’s and amazing smile" (sigh…). How old is he? And is he really gay (I don’t mind, just wanna know)?

  • LB

    I’m sure he could make quite a few women happy. On other blogs, they are focusing in on his supposed sexuality. He does go good journalism work.