The best-selling author and humorist has kept journals for 36 years. Those diaries have been the jumping-off point for the personal essays that appear in his collections, including Me Talk Pretty One Day and Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls. (Originally broadcast on April 24, 2013.)
Writer and humorist David Rakoff, who died Thursday at the age of 47, wrote with a perfect balance of wit and gravity about the cancer that would ultimately take his life. Fresh Air remembers Rakoff with excerpts from two interviews in 2001 and 2010.
Writer David Rakoff's glass is never half full. In Half Empty, his latest essay collection, Rakoff explains the powers of pessimistic thought as he analyzes topics such as a pornography trade fair, his neurotic childhood and his recent cancer diagnosis.
The act of passing on a passion is one of the greatest gifts you can give. Book critic Maureen Corrigan promises that the books on this list — mostly slim, unforgettable volumes about places or things that the writers themselves deeply love — are merrily infectious.
Peabody award-winning independent radio producer Jay Allison. His radio series include "Life Stories", "Lost and Found Sound" (with The Kitchen Sisters) and the "Sonic Memorial Project." He created Transom.org -- an online resource for newcomers to radio production. Along with producer Dan Gediman he created the "This I Believe" series, currently on NPR, modeled after the Edward R. Murrow series. Many of the essays are collected in a new book, and on CD.
Writer Augusten Burroughs is the author of two best-selling, often bitingly funny memoirs. In his first, Running With Scissors, he recalled his mentally ill mother, who gave him away to her equally mentally ill shrink — who then adopted him. Of that experience, Burroughs wrote, "I then lived a life of squalor, pedophiles, no schools and free pills." His second memoir, Dry, was about getting sober in a 28-day stay at a gay alcoholism-rehab center. Burroughs' new book is a collection of stories, Magical Thinking.
Performance poet Sekou Sundiata. He is one of New York's notable spoken word artists, blending lyrics of urban dwelling with music. Born in Harlem, he is a professor of English Literature at The New School for Social Research. He's released several CDs of his work, including The Blue Oneness of Dreams and Urban Music. He's published a new journal (in pamphlet form), Heart: Human Equity Through Art.
Eight years ago, at the age of 35, Philip Simmons was diagnosed with ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig disease. The disease is degenerative, with no cure. Simmons has lived longer with the disease than most. He written a new collection of essays, Learning to Fall: The Blessings of an Imperfect Life (Homefarm Books). Simmons is a professor of English at Lake Forest College in Illinois.
Writer David Rakoff is a regular contributor to Outside, the New York Times Magazine, and public radios This American Life. One of his peers, writer Paul Rudnick says of him, –Rakoff is a comic saint... an ideal mix of the crabby and the debonair.— Rakoff has a new collection of essays, Fraud. He's also appearing in Amy & David Sedaris new off-broadway show.
Wallace's 1,079 page novel "Infinite Jest" was critically acclaimed. His essays and stories have appeared in Harpers, The New Yorker, Playboy, The Paris Review, and others. He has a new collection of essays, "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again," (Little, Brown & Co.) The book's title comes from his comic account of being pampered to death on a luxury cruise, which originally appeared in Harpers.
The essayist, poet and playwright's new book, "Make-Believe Town," is a selection of essays about everything from theater to politics to Judaism. His work has been called opinionated, forceful, original and always surprising. Mamet won a Pulitzer Prize for his play "Glengarry Glen Ross" and has written and directed several motion pictures.
Book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews Last House: Reflections, Dreams, and Observations, 1943 - 1991, (Pantheon) the third in a trilogy of books of unpublished essays, letters and journals by M.F.K. Fisher, published after her death.