Novelist and memoirist Susan Cheever never thought she'd follow in her father John Cheever's footsteps as a writer. Drawing on the memories of his final days, her newest book, Doctors and Women, deals with cancer patients and their families.
Comedian Richard Belzer. After struggling through a poor and difficult childhood and a rough decade trying to make it as a comic, he is now performing in comedy clubs from coast to coast. He is also appearing in movies, and starring in comedy specials on cable TV.
As a young man, Democratic Socialists of America co-chair Michael Harrington worked as social worker in St. Louis -- an experience which he credits with leading him to a life of service. Fatherhood readjusted his priorities; he moved to the suburbs and felt less conflicted about earning money. He is now a writer and social commentator. His new memoir, called The Long-Distance Runner, is about his struggle with cancer.
The essayist and novelist's new book, called AIDS and Its Metaphors, examines the discourse surrounding the disease. Sontag is a cancer survivor; a previous book about language and sickness is titled Illness as Metaphor. She joins Fresh Air to talk about how cancer changed her thinking and made her a more compassionate person.
Writer Reynolds Price. Though Price has written books of poetry, essays and translation, he has earned his widest recognition for his novels, which work in a southern tradition depicting small towns in the 40s and 50s. His Southern Gothic tales deal with families coming together then scattering after suicides, soured romances. His 1986 novel, Kate Vaiden, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction, and, like Price's best fiction (A Long and Happy Life, Good Hearts), is told primarily from the point of view of a woman.
Book critic John Leonard reviews the South African author's new epistolary novel, which uses cancer as a metaphor for apartheid. Leonard says it's baffling with a terrible beauty, that spares no one -- including blacks and white liberals.
Former president of NBC Entertainment Brandon Tartikoff was the youngest person to hold that position. While there, he was responsible for such hit series as "The Cosby Show," "Cheers," "Miami Vice," and "Hill Street Blues." Now Tartikoff is chairman at Paramount Pictures. He has a new book about his NBC years, called "The Last Great Ride."
Writer Alexs Pate's first novel is called "Losing Absalom." It's a fictionalized tribute to his father that chronicles end of the title character's life as his family has gathered around his hospital bed. Writer John Willimas wrote, "Losing Absalom is a powerful yet sensitive embrace with black America today." Pate grew up in North Philadelphia and lives in Minneapolis.