Fresh Air on WLRN

Monday - Thursday at 12:00pm
Terry Gross

Opening the window on contemporary arts and issues with guests from worlds as diverse as literature and economics.

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Music Reviews
1:26 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

The Mythic Power Of Bessie Smith

circa 1935: American singer Bessie Smith (circa 1894 - 1937), known as the Empress of the Blues. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
Three Lions Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 11:39 am

Vocalist Bessie Smith's musical career, spanning 1923-33, has been collected in a new 10-CD box set, Bessie Smith: The Complete Columbia Recordings.

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Author Interviews
3:00 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

A Model Career: 'Grace' Goes From Runway To Vogue

Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 4:25 pm

Grace Coddington grew up on what she calls "an island off an island," far from the fashion industry. Her new memoir, Grace, chronicles her journey from a sleepy town on the coast of Wales to her current job as the creative director of Vogue magazine.

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Book Reviews
3:00 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Hungry Hearts And Family Matters In 'Middlesteins'

iStockphoto.com

At first glance, a novel in which the main character eats herself to death may not seem like the most felicitous pick for Thanksgiving week; but The Middlesteins turns out to be a tough but affecting story about family members putting up with each other, even in their most unlovely, chewing-with-their-mouths-open life moments. If you have a Thanksgiving family reunion looming before you that doesn't exactly promise to be a Norman Rockwell painting, The Middlesteins may just be the perfect literary corrective to overindulgence in high-calorie holiday expectations.

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Music Reviews
12:52 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

The Insect Trust: An American Band Deconstructed

The Insect Trust.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 11:40 am

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Movie Interviews
3:15 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

'Life Of Pi' Star On The 'Duet' Of Acting

Pi Patel (Irrfan Khan) looks back on the adventure he went on as a teenager in Life of Pi.
Peter Sorel Twentieth Century Fox

Originally published on Mon November 19, 2012 4:54 pm

You might think that actor Irrfan Khan — the co-star of the special effects-filled film Life of Pi -- performed his scenes by himself, or with inanimate objects that would later be transformed via CGI. Not so: As the older Pi in Ang Lee's new adaptation of the best-selling novel, Khan went back to the basics.

He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he thinks of scenes as being like duets: "You strike a note, and somebody responds, and then you respond accordingly," Khan says.

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Author Interviews
2:35 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

'Color Of Christ': A Story Of Race And Religion In America

UNC Press

Originally published on Mon November 19, 2012 4:55 pm

What did Jesus look like? The many different depictions of Christ tell a story about race and religion in America. Edward J. Blum and Paul Harvey explore that history in their new book, The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America. The book traces how different races and ethnic groups claimed Christ as their own — and how depictions of Jesus have both inspired civil rights crusades, and been used to justify the violence of white supremacists.

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Fresh Air Weekend
9:03 am
Sat November 17, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Andrew Solomon, Tony Dokoupil

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat November 17, 2012 11:45 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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Author Interviews
1:55 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Finding 'Life, Death And Hope' In A Mumbai Slum

Courtesy of Random House

This interview was originally broadcast on Feb. 8, 2012. On Wednesday, Katherine Boo won the National Book Award for nonfiction for Behind the Beautiful Forevers.

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Movie Reviews
12:16 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

In 'Silver Linings Playbook,' Lawrence Is Golden

Jacki Weaver and Chris Tucker also help round out a team of actors who score a touchdown with the critics.
The Weinstein Co.

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 3:14 pm

The best thing about David O. Russell is that he cultivates his disequilibrium. In Silver Linings Playbook, his hero is disturbed and his heroine possibly more so, and his other characters have a grip on reality that is only marginally more secure. Russell might have made them seem the dreaded "q" word — quirky — and OK, he does, a bit, at the end, which broadly conforms to the rom-com template. But until then, Bradley Cooper's Pat Solatano is someone you'd be less likely to dream about than get a restraining order against.

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Author Interviews
12:05 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

'When God Talks Back' To The Evangelical Community

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 1:55 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on Fresh Air on March 26, 2012. When God Talks Back was released in paperback on Nov. 13.

While attending services and small group meetings at The Vineyard, an evangelical church with 600 branches across the country, anthropologist T.M. Luhrmann noticed that several members of the congregation said God had repeatedly spoken to them and that they had heard what God wanted them to do.

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Books
2:49 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Doris Kearns Goodwin On Lincoln And His 'Team Of Rivals'

This interview was originally broadcast on Nov. 8, 2005.

When Tony Kushner and Steven Spielberg were working on the film Lincoln, they had many conversations with historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Her book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, is about Lincoln's relationship with his cabinet. Both her book and the film showcase Lincoln's remarkable political skills.

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Movie Reviews
2:47 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

The New British Empire: Pop-Culture Powerhouses

The HBO documentary Crossfire Hurricane, about The Rolling Stones, prompts critic John Powers to reflect on the band's five decades of fame.
HBO Films

It seems that every time you turn around, you find another anniversary of some big cultural or historical event. I'm weary of the media's habit of playing all these things up, so I'm abashed to admit I'm about to do just that.

But you see, in the same three-day period I recently saw the new James Bond picture, Skyfall, and Crossfire Hurricane, a new HBO documentary about The Rolling Stones. And because the Bond movies and the Stones both turn 50 this year, I began thinking about how they might fit together.

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Movie Interviews
1:16 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Kushner's 'Lincoln' Is Strange, But Also Savvy

Tony Kushner based his screenplay for Lincoln in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin's biography of the president, Team of Rivals — but he read many other histories and biographies, in addition to Lincoln's own writings.
DreamWorks/Twentieth Century Fox

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 12:41 pm

Tony Kushner spent years writing the screenplay for Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln, but that wasn't the only heavy lifting he had to do. It also took some effort to overcome Daniel Day-Lewis' reluctance to play the title role.

"I wanted to write to him and say, 'Daniel, apart from the fact that you're like one of the greatest actors ever, look in the mirror. God is trying to tell you something — you look like Abraham Lincoln!" Kushner tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies.

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Author Interviews
2:28 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

A Young Reporter Chronicles Her 'Brain On Fire'

Susannah Cahalan is a reporter and book reviewer at the New York Post.
Julie Stapen Free Press

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 5:47 pm

In 2009, Susannah Cahalan was a healthy 24-year-old reporter for the New York Post, when she began to experience numbness, paranoia, sensitivity to light and erratic behavior. Grasping for an answer, Cahalan asked herself as it was happening, "Am I just bad at my job — is that why? Is the pressure of it getting to me? Is it a new relationship?"

But Cahalan only got worse — she began to experience seizures, hallucinations, increasingly psychotic behavior and even catatonia. Her symptoms frightened family members and baffled a series of doctors.

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Book Reviews
2:28 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

Ian McEwan's 'Sweet Tooth' Leaves A Sour Taste

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 4:49 pm

Ian McEwan's Sweet Tooth is that oddest of literary achievements: an ingenious novel that I compulsively read, intellectually admired and increasingly hated. By the time I got to McEwan's last sneer of a plot twist, I felt that reading Sweet Tooth is the closest I ever want to come to the experience of watching a snuff film. Think that's harsh? Open up Sweet Tooth and find out what McEwan thinks of you, Dear Reader, particularly if you're a woman, as most readers of fiction are.

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