Thursday, June 02, 2005

Fresh Air with Terry Gross: Writers Speak

Terry Gross can talk to anybody about anything, and most of the people she interviews seem to enjoy the conversation as much as she does. Most listeners do not realize that Gross and her guest are usually in radio studios in different cities connected by satellite. I imagine them in comfy chairs in a cozy living room having a nice chat, and I am lucky to be in the room. If I am in the car at the right time, I tune in to her National Public Radio program Fresh Air.

Fresh Air is thirty years old, so there are many memorable conversations in the NPR vault. Fresh Air with Terry Gross: Writers Speak includes parts of interviews with thirteen authors, beginning with Stephen King telling about the accident that nearly ended his life and ending with Billy Collins reading from his poem about the Victoria’s Secret mail order catalog. I especially liked listening to Maurice Sendak talking about his book In the Night Kitchen, Joyce Johnson describing her relationship with Jack Kerouac, and Fran Lebowitz telling about writer's block. James Baldwin, Norman Mailer, Allen Ginsberg, Richard Price, Philip Roth, John Updike, David Rakoff, and David Sedaris are the other authors.

There is no print equivalent of this audiobook, but Gross did publish a compilation of interviews titled All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians, and Artists in 2004. Only Updike, Sendak, and Johnson are in both the audiobook and the book.

If you have trouble catching Fresh Air at its local broadcast time, you can listen on the web. Go to Many older programs are also available for listening.

Fresh Air with Terry Gross: Writers Speak. HighBridge, 2004. ISBN 1565119185

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