Chris Offutt's late father went from running a small insurance agency to writing more than 400 books, mostly pornography. The writer tells Fresh Air his dad believed he would be "extremely famous" for it Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews organist Chris Foreman's album, 'Now Is The Time.'
Larry Wilmore, the Daily Show's former "Senior Black Correspondent," talks about his new role as the host of The Nightly Show, which fills the time slot vacated by The Colbert Report. Also we'll talk to Bill Gifford. His new book is 'Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever (Or Die Trying).' And Fresh Air tech contributor Alexis Madrigal considers the state of "the Internet of things," with a look at his new wi-fi enabled coffee maker.
Colson Whitehead's book, 'The Noble Hustle,' now out in paperback, was born of an assignment to write about the World Series of Poker. It's a sharp observational tale of poker: those who play it and how it changed him. Then we remember former Notre Dame President Rev. Theodore Hesburgh. He was an author, theologian and activist. Finally David Edelstein reviews 'Maps to the Stars.'
"Nature knows how to let animals live a very long time," says Bill Gifford, whose latest book is 'Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever (Or Die Trying),' a look at the history of anti-aging schemes and current ways people try to live longer. David Bianculli reviews 'Battle Creek.'
Marcus Stern has spent the past year investigating the practice. Recent accidents in Canada and U.S. show that the rail cars aren't built for carrying so much oil, he says, and tracks are deteriorating. Also Ken Tucker reviews The Mavericks and tech correspondent Alexis Madrigal comments on smart home technology.
In his new memoir, Philip Connors writes about "living in the shadow of a suicide." Wracked by guilt and haunted by "what ifs," Connors investigated his brother's death and learned a terrible secret. Critic at-large John Powers reviews 'Foyle's War.'
Native American writer David Treuer talks about his family, his culture and his new novel, Prudence, about an Ojibwe reservation during World War II. Then Mark Woollen explains the process of cutting movie trailers and book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews Mr. and Mrs. Disraeli.
Fresh Air Weekend: Novelist Richard Price says that in every precinct there's one cop who just can't let go of a case. "They all reminded me of Ahab ... looking for their whales," he says. Price's latest is called 'The Whites.' Then, David Remnick looks back on tough decisions as 'The New Yorker' turns 90. Remnick, who became editor in 1998, talks about his early days at the magazine and his biggest regret: He says he'd "love to have another crack" at covering Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.
Former poet laureate Philip Levine's work often reflected the hardships and dignity of manual labor. He died Feb. 14 in Fresno, Calif. He was 87. In 1991, Levine spoke with Terry Gross about his collection 'What Work Is.' Then jazz Critic Kevin Whitehead reviews 'New Vocabulary' from saxophonist Ornette Coleman. We also remember Lesley Gore, who is known for her Top 40 sensations such as 'You Don't Own Me' and 'It's My Party.' Her last album was released in 2005, the year she came out as a lesbian. She died Monday at the age of 68. Finally David Edelstein reviews 'Wild Tales.'
It has been a year of professional highs and personal lows for Larry Wilmore. He is still fine-tuning 'The Nightly Show,' which fills the late-night spot on Comedy Central vacated by Stephen Colbert. The show launched just as Wilmore's 20-year marriage was coming to an end.
Remnick, who became editor of 'The New Yorker' in 1998, talks about his early days at the magazine and his biggest regret. He says he'd "dearly love to have another crack at" covering the weapons of mass destruction.
Richard Price says that in every precinct there's one cop who just can't let go of a case. "They all reminded me of Ahab looking for their whales," he says. Price's latest is called The Whites.
The act, which turned 50 last year, ended the era of legal segregation in public accommodations, like restaurants and hotels. Author Todd Purdum talks about the battles that surrounded it. Then rock historian Ed Ward shares a story about a Wisconsin furniture company that began selling blues albums in the '20s.
Photojournalist Lynsey Addario was taken captive in 2011 while covering Libya's civil war. With a gun to her head, she says she was thinking, "Will I ever get my cameras back?" Also actor Michael Keaton says his 1989 bat suit was downright claustrophobic, but he somehow made it work. In the existential comedy, Keaton plays a washed up, insecure actor looking for a second shot at fame.
Fresh Air remembers 'New York Times' media columnist David Carr. David Edelstein reviews 'Fifty Shades of Grey.'
The film is set in 1962 in Poland where director Pawel Pawlikowski lived until he was 14. Up for an Oscar for best foreign language film, Ida is about identity, faith, guilt and socialism. Then we remember longtime 60 Minutes correspondent, Bob Simon. Finally, classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz reviews a reissue by the Schneider Quartet.
Lynsey Addario was taken captive in 2011 while covering the fighting between Moammar Gadhafi's troops and rebel forces. With a gun to her head, she says she was thinking, "Will I ever get my cameras back?"
In his new book, veteran political consultant David Axelrod tells stories about his years at Obama's side. After one debate, Axelrod says Obama "made clear how he felt about me at that moment, and he bolted." Then David Bianculli reviews the new Canadian sitcom 'Schitt's Creek' and Maureen Corrigan reviews the novel 'The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty.'
Michael Keaton talks about his Oscar-nominated performance in the film Birdman. He plays a Hollywood actor, once famous for his role as the superhero Birdman, attempting to reinvent himself by directing and starring in a Broadway play. Not coincidentally, Keaton, like his character, starred in a superhero franchise as Batman.
Bradley Cooper on American Sniper: The film's depiction of the Iraq war has come under scrutiny. Cooper, who portrays Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, says the conversation is moving away from "the fact that 22 vets commit suicide each day." A Review of Better Call Saul: The new AMC show is about public defender Jimmy McGill who adopts a sleazy new persona as Saul Goodman. The show has the same tight plots, rich characters and delicious twists as its parent series. The Science of 'Touch': In his latest book, neuroscientist David Linden explains the science of touch. He tellsFresh Air how pain protects, why fingertips are so sensitive and why you can't read Braille with your genitals.
Breaking Bad's fast-talking, sleazeball lawyer Saul Goodman knows how to bend the law, or break it, depending on his clients' needs. Odenkirk tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross about playing the AMC drama's most comedic character, and the origins of Saul's comb-over. The prequel spin-off Better Call Saul premieres Sunday February 8th. Then film critic David Edelstein reviews The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.
Asali Solomon's novel is about a girl growing up in West Philadelphia whose parents were black nationalists. "My parents taught us to revere Africa — people at school made fun of Africa," she says. Then we remember the late Charlie Sifford, the first black player admitted to the Professional Golfer's Association. Terry spoke to him in 1992.
The Huffington Post's Jason Cherkis investigated the heroin epidemic in Kentucky, and found that the abstinence-based approach used in most treatment centers was leading to many fatal relapses. Then jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a newly released live recording of Lennie Tristano's sextet at Chicago's Blue Note Club. Also, David Bianculli reviews the Breaking Bad spin-off, Better Call Saul on AMC.
In his new book, neuroscientist David Linden explains the science of touch. He tells Fresh Air why pain can protect you, why fingertips are sensitive and why you can't read Braille with your genitals. Then Ken Tucker reviews Bob Dylan's new album, Shadows in the Night, a collection of songs recorded by Frank Sinatra.
Actor Bradley Cooper discusses his Oscar-nominated film American Sniper. He plays Navy SEAL Chris Kyle who is considered to be the most skilled sniper in U.S. military history. Cooper talks about the controversy surrounding the film, working with director Clint Eastwood, and portraying Joseph Merrick in the Broadway revival of The Elephant Man.