Fresh Air

  • Hosted by Terry Gross

Open a window to contemporary arts and issues with people from worlds as diverse as literature and economics. Host Terry Gross is a veteran public radio interviewer known for her extraordinary ability to engage guests of all dispositions.

Get a breath of Fresh Air, weekdays on 89.9 WSUF, 103.3 WQQQ and WSHU-Fairfield County Public Radio at noon, and on 1340 WYBC at 3 PM.  If you're an evening listener, catch Fresh Air at 9 PM on WSUF and WQQQ.

Copyright 2015 Fresh Air. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

To listen to the media tell it, "so" is busting out all over — or at least at the beginning of a sentence. New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas calls "so" the new "um" and "like"; others call it a plague and a fad.

In 1938, an Austrian pediatrician named Hans Asperger gave the first public talk on autism in history. Asperger was speaking to an audience of Nazis, and he feared that his patients — children who fell onto what we now call the autism spectrum — were in danger of being sent to Nazi extermination camps.

As Asperger spoke, he highlighted his "most promising" patients, a notion that would stick with the autistic spectrum for decades to come.

About two-thirds of the way through Jonathan Franzen's big new novel, Purity, we're told about an "ambitious project" conceived by a young artist named Anabel. Anabel finds it strange that people can go through their lives without "having made the most basic acquaintance with [their bodies] ...

For novelist Jonathan Franzen, writing isn't just an escape from himself, it's an "escape from everything." He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross: "It's like having this dream that you can go back to, kind of on demand. When it's really going well ... you're in a fantasy land and feeling no pain."

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