WATCH: Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt Talk Family, Tragedy and Unforgettable Memories

Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper discuss their intimate new memoir with PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly editorial director Jess Cagle

Photo: Jeff Riedel

Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper are living proof that it’s never too late to get to know the people closest to you.

The mother and son sat down with PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly editorial director Jess Cagle ahead of the Tuesday release of their new memoir, The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son Talk About Life, Love, and Loss, which offers a rare glimpse into their special relationship via a collection of intimate email exchanges.

“When my mom turned 91, I wanted to use the time that we have left in our lives to get to know each other as adults,” Cooper explained. “I realized I didn’t want there to be anything left unsaid with my mom, I didn’t want there to be questions that I still had about who she was and what her life was like. And I didn’t want her to have questions about me as an adult.”

The CNN anchor added that email was an “easier” platform for getting acquainted with his mom as an adult.

“Yes, because it gives it a kind of removal in a sense,” Vanderbilt replied, adding, “I think that you have to be completely free when you’re doing it and not be afraid and think that even if it’s something that you didn’t want to send, think about it and maybe it’s something that you should.”

For more on Anderson Cooper’s extraordinary relationship with his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, pick up a copy of the latest issue of PEOPLE magazine, on newsstands now

But as the revealing interview went on, Cooper discovered that even he has his limits.

When Cagle asked Vanderbilt what topic she could talk about all day, for hours on end, she was quick reply, “Sex.”

Asked whether his answer was the same, Anderson demurred.

“I’m not going to say that in front of my mom,” he laughed. “No matter how weird our relationship is.”

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