Fresh Air remembers the film critic and bon vivant Roger Ebert, who died Thursday, with a roundup of interviews from our archive.
In one, from all the way back in 1984, host Terry Gross talks with Ebert alone; in a second conversation, from 1996, Terry interviews both Ebert and his late partner Gene Siskel onstage at Northwestern University.
In two very special conversations, Ebert himself interviews iconic directors Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese.
And finally, critic-at-large John Powers discusses Ebert's 2011 memoir Life Itself.
It's a funny thing about dictionaries. First we're taught to revere them, then we have to learn to set them aside. Nobody ever went wrong starting a middle-school composition with, "According to Webster's ..." but that's not how you start an op-ed commentary about terrorism or racism. When it comes to the words that do the cultural heavy lifting, we're not about to defer to some lexicographer hunched over a dusty keyboard.
As a Mormon missionary, Ryan McIlvain spent two years ringing strangers' doorbells, even as he experienced doubts about his own faith. McIlvain left the church in his mid-20s. His debut novel, Elders, is based on the experiences he had trying to convert people to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Elder" is the term used for a young Mormon on his mission.
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 â€” characters, setting, narration â€” 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.