In Little Failure, the novelist recounts his emigration from the USSR to the U.S. when he was 7. For the first few years, he says, he would sit alone in the school cafeteria, talking to himself in Russian "in this gigantic fur hat and fur coat." It wasn't long before a teacher advised, "Children won't play with you if you have that much fur on."
Since about age 2, Atlantic editor Scott Stossel has been "a twitchy bundle of phobias, fears and neuroses." Today, his phobias include asthenophobia, a fear of fainting; aerophobia, a fear of flying; and turophobia, a fear of cheese. He wrote his latest book to help him understand and find relief from his anxious suffering.
The songwriter behind the much-beloved "Hey Sandy" returns after eight years with Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You; Fresh Air tech contributor Alexis Madrigal reflects on the online streaming and DVD rental service's bizarrely personalized microgenres; and a new HBO comedy takes place in the geriatric extended-care wing of a California hospital.
World War II is often thought of as a good and just war — a war the U.S. had to fight. But it wasn't that simple. Public debate was heated between interventionism, which President Roosevelt supported, and isolationism, which aviator Charles Lindbergh became an unofficial spokesman for.
A new book by critic Olivia Laing explores the link between alcohol and writing through the commentaries of famous writers who were themselves alcoholics. Fresh Air's Maureen Corrigan calls Laing's readings "exquisite," and says she wisely avoids "any one-size-fits-all conclusions about the bond between the pen and the bottle."
Author Lucy Lethbridge explores the history of British servants through their diaries, letters and memoirs. She says, "What I found particularly fascinating was how ... butlers were so butler-y;" the old caricature of the clever manservant and the silly master is one "butlers have appeared to play to the hilt."
Fresh Air tech contributor Alexis Madrigal counted 76,897 microgenres on the online streaming and DVD rental service, many of which are bizarrely personalized (Violent Action Thrillers Starring Bruce Willis, Tearjerkers From The 1970s). He says the company "knows you."
The pop star has a flair for the extravagant, to say the least, but his album The Diving Board is stripped down. He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross about the "Elton John excess," his fear of sex as a young man, and how Liberace's example encouraged John to make the piano a star instrument.
As the brains behind the hip-hop parody group responsible for digital shorts like "D--- in a Box," Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer have produced some of the funniest Saturday Night Live material in recent memory. Here, they talk about comedy, Yo! MTV Raps and adolescence.
David Edelstein says it was a "miraculous year" for movies. David Bianculli says two Netflix shows this year changed the game. Maureen Corrigan says it's just a fluke that 9 of the 11 titles she picked were written by female authors. And Ken Tucker picks his 10 favorite albums.
The screenwriter, producer, director and actor, whose name has become synonymous with American comedy, talks about his penchant for spoofs and his decades-long friendship with Carl Reiner. Brooks is among a handful of people who've won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards.
The former International Space Station commander achieved Internet stardom with his in-space rendition of David Bowie's "Space Oddity." After three missions and a total of six months in space he shares what he's learned in a book, An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth.
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg met as adolescents on the Vancouver bar mitzvah circuit — and soon after began writing the script for what would become the movie Superbad. Their project This Is the End, is a disaster-movie spoof in which the Rapture hits home in Hollywood.
In 2013, "you really feel as if directors are taking chances in their storytelling," says film critic David Edelstein. He loved the movie Her, and says the biggest surprises of the year were All Is Lost and Much Ado About Nothing. He also explains why 12 Years a Slave didn't make his top 10.