Fresh Air

Weekdays at 11:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Terry Gross

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

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Commentary
12:23 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Even Dictionaries Grapple With Getting 'Marriage' Right

Geoff Nunberg says a good definition extends to the past as well as the present: It's not just about what "marriage" has come to mean; it's all the word has ever meant.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu April 4, 2013 1:12 pm

It's a funny thing about dictionaries. First we're taught to revere them, then we have to learn to set them aside. Nobody ever went wrong starting a middle-school composition with, "According to Webster's ..." but that's not how you start an op-ed commentary about terrorism or racism. When it comes to the words that do the cultural heavy lifting, we're not about to defer to some lexicographer hunched over a dusty keyboard.

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Author Interviews
12:23 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Former Mormon Missionary Describes The Experience Of 'Elders'

Originally published on Thu April 4, 2013 3:47 pm

As a Mormon missionary, Ryan McIlvain spent two years ringing strangers' doorbells, even as he experienced doubts about his own faith. McIlvain left the church in his mid-20s. His debut novel, Elders, is based on the experiences he had trying to convert people to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Elder" is the term used for a young Mormon on his mission.

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Book Reviews
12:16 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

'Burgess Boys' Family Saga Explores The Authenticity Of Imperfection

iStockphoto.com

In 1846, Edgar Allan Poe wrote a famous essay called "The Philosophy of Composition," in which he sounds like an interior decorator. I say that because in the essay, Poe insists that all good writing must strive for what he calls "unity of effect." For Poe, it was important that everything in his short stories — characters, setting, narration — add up to one big "color-me-terrified" impact.

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Author Interviews
12:09 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

A Father Tells The Story Of His Son's Struggle To Stay 'Clean'

iStockphoto.com

Why do we imprison people who are addicted to illegal drugs instead of treating them for their addiction? That question is at the heart of David Sheff's new book Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy. It reports the latest medical and scientific research about addiction and recovery, which, Sheff says, shows that drug addicts are gravely ill, afflicted with a chronic, progressive and often terminal disease.

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Television
11:40 am
Wed April 3, 2013

This Spring, Rejoice At Rebirth Of 'Mad Men'

We won't give away any of the details about his personal life, but we can say that the two-hour season premiere of Mad Men shows Don Draper (Jon Hamm, right, with John Slattery's Roger Sterling) as his silver tongue fails him.
Frank Ockenfels AMC

Originally published on Wed April 3, 2013 12:04 pm

For decades, when broadcast television called the shots and dominated the TV landscape, the biggest event of the year was "the fall season," when networks would unveil their new shows and return with fresh episodes of old favorites. But now, because of cable and satellite TV, the fall season isn't the only game in town.

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World
1:46 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Hisham Matar: A 'Return' To Libya In Search Of His Father

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. My guest has often thought of his father as neither dead nor alive. Hisham Matar's family was living in Egypt, in exile from Libya, when Matar's father, a prominent opponent of the Gadhafi regime, was kidnapped, taken back to Libya and imprisoned. That was in March 1990, and it was the last time Matar saw his father.

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Music Reviews
1:25 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Kacey Musgraves: Country's Blunt And Poetic New Voice

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Kacey Musgraves' "Merry Go 'Round" was one of NPR Music's favorite songs of 2012.
Kelly Christine Musgraves Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 1:46 pm

Kacey Musgraves is something of an anomaly. A Texas native in her mid-20s, she fits most easily into the contemporary "country" category, but the work she co-writes with a variety of collaborators is really a throwback to an earlier era of singer-songwriters — as much influenced by rock and folk as by country.

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Remembrances
1:03 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Listening Back To An Interview With Phil Ramone

Phil Ramone in New York in 1997.
Ken Weingart Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 9:15 am

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. We're going to remember the record producer and engineer Phil Ramone who died Saturday at the age of 79. He won 14 Grammys. He started his career as an engineer, recording singers like Lesley Gore, Dusty Springfield and Dionne Warwick. He went on to produce recordings by Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Barbara Streisand, Ray Charles and Tony Bennett as well as the original cast recording of Stephen Sondheim's "Passion."

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Author Interviews
12:54 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

In Digestion: Mary Roach Explains What Happens To The Food We Eat

iStockphoto.com

For all our talk about food, we don't like to think much about it after we put it in our mouths. But Mary Roach — whose latest book is Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal — did just that. Gulp takes a close look at the human digestive system, from the mouth on down, and Roach writes that she wants readers to say not, "This is gross," but instead, "I thought this would be gross, but it's really interesting. OK, and maybe a little gross."

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Fresh Air Weekend
8:03 am
Sat March 30, 2013

Fresh Air Weekend: Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Chris Hayes And 'Room 237'

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell have been friends and collaborators since the 1970s. Their new album together is called Old Yellow Moon.
David McClister Nonesuch Records

Originally published on Sat March 30, 2013 10:51 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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