Fresh Air

Weekdays at Noon

Fresh Air opens the window on contemporary arts and issues with guests from worlds as diverse as literature and economics. Terry Gross hosts this multi-award-winning daily interview and features program. The veteran public radio interviewer is known for her extraordinary ability to engage guests of all dispositions. Every weekday she delights intelligent and curious listeners with revelations on contemporary societal concerns.

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Movie Reviews
11:23 am
Tue November 19, 2013

'Great Beauty,' 'Narco Cultura': Excess, Succeeding Wildly

Toni Servillo plays a jaded journalist and perpetual partier in The Great Beauty, Italy's submission for the best foreign language film Oscar.
Guanni Fiorito Janus Films

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 1:36 pm

In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake served up one of those mind-bending proverbs he's known for: "The road of excess leads," he wrote, "to the palace of wisdom." I thought about this line as I watched two terrific new movies that put Blake's words to the test.

Paolo Sorrentino's thrillingly good The Great Beauty tackles the idea head-on — it's an excessive film about excess. Sorrentino doesn't merely aim to update one of the most famous movies of all time (Fellini's portrait of decadent Rome, La Dolce Vita). He intends to better it.

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Author Interviews
1:46 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

'Promised Land' Wrestles With Israel's Brutal Contradictions

Israeli soldiers work from a Gaza Strip watchtower.
Gali Tibbon AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun November 24, 2013 7:01 am

In his new book My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, Israeli journalist Ari Shavit tackles several basic questions: Why was Israel created? What has it achieved? What went wrong? Where is it heading? Will it survive?

The book is based on interviews with hundreds of Israelis — Jews and Arabs — as well as his own story and family history (two of Shavit's great-grandfathers became Zionists in the late 1800s).

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Remembrances
11:58 am
Mon November 18, 2013

Fresh Air Remembers 'Golden Notebook' Author Doris Lessing

Doris Lessing, pictured here in 2006, once refused to allow the queen to declare her a dame of the British Empire, because — as the author put it — "There is no British Empire."
Martin Cleaver AP

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 11:24 am

Novelist and essayist Doris Lessing died Sunday at the age of 94.

Lessing won the Nobel Prize in 2007. She lived in England most of her life, but she grew up in southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

Lessing often addressed racism and colonialism in her writing, including in a series of novels about a fictional character named Martha Quest. She was best known for her 1962 book, The Golden Notebook, which was regarded as among the most important feminist novels of its time.

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Fresh Air Weekend
7:03 am
Sat November 16, 2013

Fresh Air Weekend: Bruce Dern, Booker Ervin And 'Hyperbole And A Half'

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You may recognize this drawing from Allie Brosh's popular "This Is Why I'll Never Be An Adult" blog post. (It's now a popular Internet meme.)
Courtesy Touchstone Books

Originally published on Sat November 16, 2013 8:53 am

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

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Movie Reviews
12:57 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Across 'Nebraska,' On A Journey That Goes Beyond The Trip

David (Will Forte, left) and his father, Woody (Bruce Dern, center), take time out of their quixotic journey to stop in Woody's small Nebraska hometown — where Woody's old business partner, Ed (Stacy Keach), is still nursing a grudge.
Merie W. Wallace Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 3:47 pm

Last month, I saw the trailer for Alexander Payne's Nebraska, and only the fact that it was a Payne film made me want to see it.

The premise seemed a dead end: Bruce Dern plays an elderly man named Woody Grant living in Billings, Mont., who gets a letter saying he's won $1 million. All he needs to do is call a number and maybe buy a magazine subscription.

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Interviews
10:56 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Carol Burnett: The Fresh Air Interview

Carol Burnett arrives for the 16th Annual Mark Twain Prize For American Humor on Oct. 20 in Washington, D.C.
Kris Connor Getty Images

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 12:57 pm

Carol Burnett won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in October. The award ceremony — including tributes from Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Martin Short and Vicki Lawrence — will be broadcast on PBS Sunday, Nov. 24.

Burnett was among the first women to host a TV variety show. The Carol Burnett Show ran on CBS from 1967 to '78, and won 22 Emmys. It was famous for its movie parodies, the soap opera spoof "As The Stomach Churns" and its sketches about a bickering family. For most of the show's run, Burnett shared the stage with Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman and Tim Conway.

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Music Reviews
10:08 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Two Sides Of Holiday Cheer From Kelly Clarkson, Nick Lowe

Kelly Clarkson's new holiday album is titled Wrapped in Red.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 12:57 pm

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Movie Interviews
12:17 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Actor Bruce Dern Gets Up Close And Personal In 'Nebraska'

Bruce Dern has been acting for more than 50 years. In Nebraska, he plays a man on a mission to collect $1 million.
Merie W. Wallace Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 2:08 pm

After spending much of his career in supporting roles, actor Bruce Dern is finally getting some recognition: He won the best actor award at this year's Cannes Film Festival for his performance in the new film Nebraska.

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Book Reviews
12:44 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

A 'Marriage', A Divorce, A Dying Dog And Essays Done Right

iStockphoto.com

Pity the poor essay collection. Unlike its close, more creative neighbor — the short story collection — or its snooty relation, The Novel, the humble essay collection is the wallflower of the literary world. And, when an essay collection is composed — as Ann Patchett's new volume partly is — of pieces previously printed in fashion and pet lovers' magazines, it really might seem like a grab bag of minor material — as, admittedly, a few of the pieces here are.

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Author Interviews
11:27 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Christmas Lights Make Slippers In Global 'Junkyard' Economy

A woman worker sorts used plastic bottles at a recycle center in Mumbai, India.
Rajanish Kakade AP

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 5:01 pm

When you think of recycling, you probably think of cans, plastic bottles and newspapers. Well, think a little bigger.

There are businesses devoted to recycling metal, paper, plastic, oil, textiles, cell phones, computers, motors, batteries, Christmas lights, cars and more. The hidden world of globalized recycling and reclamation, and its impact on the environment and the global economy, is the subject of the new book Junkyard Planet by journalist Adam Minter.

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Commentary
11:11 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Was Rand Paul's Plagiarism Dishonest Or A Breach Of Good Form?

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., talks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 3.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 2:31 pm

Even taken together, the charges didn't seem to amount to that big a deal — just a matter of quoting a few factual statements and a Wikipedia passage without attributing them. But as Rand Paul discovered, the word "plagiarism" can still rouse people to steaming indignation. Samuel Johnson called plagiarism the most reproachful of literary crimes, and the word itself began as the name of a real crime. In Roman law, a plagiarius was someone who abducted a child or a slave — it's from "plaga," the Latin word for a net or a snare.

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Author Interviews
11:11 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Even When It Hurts 'ALOT,' Brosh Faces Life With Plenty Of 'Hyperbole'

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You may recognize this drawing from Allie Brosh's popular "This Is Why I'll Never Be An Adult" blog post. (It's now a popular Internet meme.)
Courtesy Touchstone Books

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 2:21 pm

Allie Brosh's humorous, autobiographical blog, Hyperbole and a Half, has a huge following. In 2011, an editor of PC World included it in a list of the funniest sites on the Internet, and this year, Advertising Age included Brosh in its annual list of the year's most influential and creative thinkers and doers.

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The Impact of War
11:38 am
Mon November 11, 2013

In 'Fire And Forget,' Vets Turned Writers Tell Their War Stories

U.S. Army soldiers begin their journey home from Iraq on July 13, 2010.
Maya Alleruzzo AP

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 5:43 pm

This Veterans Day, considers these lines from the preface to Fire And Forget, a collection of short stories by veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan:

On the one hand, we want to remind you ... of what happened ... and insist you recollect those men and women who fought, bled, and died in dangerous and far-away places. On the other hand, there's nothing most of us would rather do than leave these wars behind. No matter what we do next, the soft tension of the trigger pull is something we'll carry with us forever.

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Music Reviews
9:08 am
Mon November 11, 2013

No Need To Cook The Books: Booker Ervin's Debut LP Reissued

Booker Ervin on the cover of The Book Cooks, his debut album.
Courtesy of Bethlehem Records

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 11:42 am

Tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin came to New York in 1958. Pianist Horace Parlan heard him and invited Ervin to sit in one night with a band he worked in. That's how Ervin got hired by bassist Charles Mingus, who featured him on albums like Blues and Roots and Mingus Ah Um.

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Fresh Air Weekend
8:52 am
Sat November 9, 2013

Fresh Air Weekend: Roy Choi, Industrial Musicals And 'The Story Of A New Name'

Chef Roy Choi was named Food and Wine Magazine's Best New Chef in 2010.
Bobby Fisher Courtesy of Harper Collins

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

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Interviews
8:58 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Stephen Colbert: In Good 'Company' On Broadway

Stephen Colbert and Martha Plimpton perform a song from Company on stage during the 65th annual Tony Awards.
Andrew H. Walker Getty Images

This interview was originally broadcast on June 14, 2011.

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Interviews
8:48 am
Fri November 8, 2013

A Daughter Remembers Her 'Entertainer' Father

Courtesy of Margaret Talbot

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 10:45 am

This interview was originally broadcast on Nov. 21, 2012.

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Author Interviews
3:24 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Roy Choi's Tacos Channel LA And The Immigrant Experience

Chef Roy Choi was named Food and Wine Magazine's Best New Chef in 2010.
Bobby Fisher Courtesy of Harper Collins

Roy Choi is a chef who's celebrated for food that isn't fancy. He's one of the founders of the food truck movement, where instead of hot dogs or ice cream, more unusual, gourmet dishes are prepared and sold. His Kogi trucks specialize in tacos filled with Korean barbecue.

Choi was born in South Korea in 1970 and moved to Los Angeles with his parents at the age of 2. His parents owned a Korean restaurant near Anaheim for a few years when he was a child. He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that his mother had some serious cooking talent.

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Book Reviews
1:04 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

'Self-Help Messiah' Dale Carnegie Gets A Second Life In Print

Courtesy of Other Press

Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 1:50 pm

"Make the other person feel important." "Let the other fellow feel that the idea is his." "Make people like you." Those are some of the peppy commands that have sent generations of Americans out into the world, determined to win friends and influence people — oh, and make big bucks.

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The Fresh Air Interview
2:06 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Vince Giordano: The Fresh Air Interview

Boardwalk Empire features music by Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks.
Abbot Genser HBO

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 3:42 pm

If you love jazz and pop from the 1920s and '30s, you might already love the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, set in Atlantic City during Prohibition. The music played throughout the show is performed by Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, and a second album of music from the series was recently released.

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Author Interviews
1:45 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Sales Take Center Stage: To Boost Morale, Companies Burst Into Song

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Steve Young learned about industrial musicals when he started coming across compilations, like this one, in used record stores. (You definitely want to click to enlarge this.)
Courtesy of Blast Books

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 7:47 am

Why would someone write a sentimental ballad about a bathroom? For the same reason someone would write a rousing song about tractors: So the song could be used in what's called an industrial musical.

These musicals were like Broadway shows, but they were written and performed for corporate sales meetings and conventions from the 1950s to the 1980s. The lyrics were all about the products being sold and how to sell them. Some of them were lavish and costly, even though they'd be performed only once.

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Book Reviews
1:01 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Female Friendship Puts 'New' Angle On Italian Classism And Machismo

The Story Of A New Name Book Cover

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 7:46 am

Some writers you read and move on, but every now and then you read one whose work knocks you back against the wall. This happened to me with the great Italian novelist Elena Ferrante.

I first encountered her through her scalding 2002 novel, The Days Of Abandonment, whose narrator, Olga, may be the scariest jilted wife since Medea. What makes Olga scary is not what she does, but what she thinks and feels, and her ferocious precision in describing everything from lousy sexual encounters to her not-altogether-maternal feelings about her children.

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Author Interviews
1:01 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

From Sulking To Sanctions, A Street-Level View Of Life In Iran

Iranian demonstrators march in Tehran in 2011, during a protest asking the government to intensify its enforcement of the Islamic dress code.
Atta Kenare AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 1:15 pm

Monday is the 34th anniversary of the 1979 storming of the American Embassy in Tehran, when Iranian militants took 66 hostages and held them for more than a year. U.S.-Iranian relations have been contentious ever since, but recent events have stirred hopes for progress.

Iranian voters overwhelmingly chose a more moderate president in June, and American and Iranian mediators are meeting to try to resolve disputes about Iran's nuclear program.

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Music Reviews
10:08 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Amir ElSaffar Navigates Uncharted Blue Notes On 'Alchemy'

Amir ElSaffar's new album is called Alchemy.
Nicole LeCorgne Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 1:01 pm

Trumpeter Amir ElSaffar grew up near Chicago, playing jazz trumpet. In the early 2000s, while in his mid-20s, he began investigating the music of his Iraqi heritage, studying in Baghdad and with expatriate musicians in Europe. Then he began combining the two.

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Fresh Air Weekend
7:03 am
Sat November 2, 2013

Fresh Air Weekend: Chris Hadfield, Brandy Clark, Kennedy Conspiracies

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield has spent a total of six months in space. In his new book, he writes that getting to space took only "8 minutes and 42 seconds. Give or take a few thousand days of training."
NASA Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

Originally published on Sat November 2, 2013 9:34 am

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

Read more
Remembrances
1:54 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

The Story Behind The Stunts: Remembering Hollywood's Hal Needham

Hollywood stuntman Hal Needham — one of the most famous practitioners of his dangerous craft — died of cancer on Oct. 25 at age 82. We'll listen back to a conversation with Needham from Feb. 7, 2011, when he had just published a memoir, called Stuntman!: My Car-Crashing, Plane-Jumping, Bone-Breaking, Death-Defying Hollywood Life.

Hal Needham spent most of the 1950s and '60s falling off horses, wrecking stagecoach wagons and falling from really, really high places.

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Interviews
1:54 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

From Kids' Books To Erotica, Tomi Ungerer's 'Far Out' Life

Tomi Ungerer has published more than 140 books.
Sam Norval Corner of the Cave Media

This interview was originally broadcast on July 1, 2013. Far Out Isn't Far Enough has just been released on DVD.

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Book Reviews
1:39 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Dickensian Ambition And Emotion Make 'Goldfinch' Worth The Wait

"Dickensian" is one of those literary modifiers that's overused. But before I officially retire this ruined adjective (or exile it to Australia, as Dickens himself would have done), I want to give it one final outing, because no other word will do. Here goes: Donna Tartt's grand new novel, The Goldfinch, is Dickensian both in the ambition of its jumbo, coincidence-laced plot, as well as in its symphonic range of emotions.

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Movie Interviews
1:25 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Jared Leto Was 'Seduced' By Role Of Rayon In 'Buyers Club'

In Dallas Buyers Club, Jared Leto plays Rayon, a transgender woman who is HIV-positive and struggling with a drug habit. "I always saw Rayon as someone who wanted to live ... life as a woman, not just someone who enjoyed putting on women's clothing," Leto says.
Anne Marie Fox Focus Features

Dallas Buyers Club is based on the story of Ron Woodroof, a rodeo cowboy and electrician, who was diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1985. With the latest drugs still in the trial phase, he was told he didn't have long to live. Without access to possibly life-prolonging drugs, he sought out alternative treatments in Mexico and smuggled those drugs into the U.S., forming a buyers club for fellow HIV patients.

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Music Reviews
10:06 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Brandy Clark Tells The 'Stories' That Are Tough To Hear

Brandy Clark's new album is titled 12 Stories.
Becky Fluke Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 7:12 am

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