Maureen Corrigan

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

There's so much to like about the classy Last Interview series, but one of the things I now like best about it is the heavenly trio who was recently added to the line-up: Ernest Hemingway, Philip K. Dick, and Nora Ephron.

This year, most of the best stories I read came in small-ish packages.

Mary Gaitskill writes tough. Her characters are almost always "users" — users of drugs and other people; they're often mean and manipulative and flooded with self-loathing. In short, to quote the title of her debut short story collection, Gaitskill writes about people who are no strangers to "bad behavior." You have to write tough — and brilliantly — to pull off a novel like The Mare.

I hate to make so much of Roger Angell's age, but he started it. Angell is 95, and he's written decades' worth of books and articles (many of them about baseball), humor pieces, profiles, and poems — some of which are gathered in this new collection called, This Old Man.

Mention Oscar Hijuelos and most people think The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. And why not? It's his gorgeous second novel, the one that won him the Pulitzer Prize in 1990. More novels followed, as well as a memoir, but much of that work carried trace elements of the exuberance and melancholy that made Mambo Kings so distinctive.

Hijuelos' sudden in death in 2013 was one of those literary deaths that genuinely seemed to sadden a lot of readers — his work was beloved for, among other things, its sweet, sad take on the allure of dreaming big in America.

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

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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