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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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."
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:
Awhile back, I went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to see its show on filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. It was jammed with visitors poring over his letters, eyeing the dresses worn by the spooky twins in The Shining, and posing for photos in front of the sexy-futuristic decor of the Korova Milk Bar from A Clockwork Orange.
Frank Langella, who earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon, stars in the film Robot & Frank, about an aging ex-burglar. He says he was drawn to the unsentimental role.
Credit Samuel Goldwyn Films and Stage 6 Films
In Robot & Frank, a robot cares for an aging ex-burglar who has dementia. Frank Langella, who plays the burglar, says his character "becomes fond of the robot only because it is a tool for his wicked, wicked ways."