Fresh Air

Monday-Thursday at 7pm
  • Hosted by Terry Gross

Opening the window on contemporary arts and issues with guests from worlds as diverse as literature and economics.  

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Talk about opening with a bang: at the beginning of Julia Pierpont's debut novel, Among the Ten Thousand Things, an 11-year-old girl named Kay Shanley enters the lobby of her New York City apartment building. We readers have already been clued into the fact that Kay is the kind of awkward, shy, pre-teen other girls ridicule. We just want her to get safely into her family's apartment and back to watching the Harry Potter movies she loves. But, just as the elevator doors are closing, the doorman signals for her to hold up.

Journalist Jessica Grose is no stranger to criticism of her voice. When she was co-hosting the Slate podcast, the DoubleX Gabfest, she would receive emails complaining about her "upspeak" — a tendency to raise her voice at the end of sentences. Once an older man she was interviewing for an article in Businessweek told her that she sounded like his granddaughter.

"That was the first moment I felt [my voice] was hurting my career beyond just irritating a couple listeners," Grose tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

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Actor Jake Gyllenhaal knows what it feels like to take a punch. "It doesn't feel great, you know," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I don't like getting hit, but it was important for the movie. At least that's how I justify when I would get hit: 'That was good for the movie.' "

The movie in question is Southpaw, in which Gyllenhaal stars as a boxer who grew up in the foster care system and is struggling to be a father to his daughter.

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When film director Sean Baker moved to Los Angeles three years ago, he found himself drawn to one of the city's most infamous intersections. The corner of Highland Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard is "an unofficial red light district," Baker tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. But Baker's interest in the area went beyond the usual transactions: "I thought there must be some incredible stories that take place on that corner."

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