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Book critic Maureen Corrigan

Book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews –The Fourth Hand— (Random House) by John Irving.

04:18

Other segments from the episode on July 23, 2001

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, July 23, 2001: Interview with John Cameron Mitchell; Review of Yahoo's debut album "Fear not the obvious;" Interview with Christopher guest; Review of John Irving's "The…

Transcript

DATE July 23, 2001 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/A
TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A
NETWORK NPR
PROGRAM Fresh Air

Interview: John Cameron Mitchell discuss his new film "Hedwig and
the Angry Inch"
PETER CLOWNEY, host:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Peter Clowney in for Terry Gross.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. JOHN CAMERON MITCHELL: (As Hedwig) (Singing) Don't you know me Kansas
City, I'm the new Berlin Wall. Try and tear me down. I was born on the other
side...

CLOWNEY: That's John Cameron Mitchell in the character of Hedwig, the
transsexual, glam rock chanteuse he created for the New York stage, and whom
Mitchell now plays in the movie adaptation he also wrote and directed.
Rolling Stone called the original "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" the first
rock musical that truly rocks. The film won a best director award and an
audience award at Sundance.

Hedwig's story goes something like this. When she's born in Communist East
Berlin, she's a he named Hansel. Hansel eventually falls in love with an
American GI who offers to marry him and take him to the United States if he
gets a sex change operation. Hansel reluctantly agrees, but the operation is
botched. All that remains of his genitalia is an unrecognizable bit, which
Hansel, now Hedwig, calls the angry inch.

She's abandoned by her GI, and ends up in a trailer park in Kansas. There she
starts writing songs and performing them with a band in a chain of family
restaurants called Bilgewater's. Hedwig mixes campy patter with bitter
stories about the life that got away, and about her search for someone to make
her feel complete. It's a quest inspired by Plato's story about the origin of
love.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. MITCHELL: (As Hedwig) (Singing) Your love is still flat, and clouds made
of fire and mountains stretched up to the sky, sometimes higher. Folks roam
the Earth like they rollin' kegs. They have two sets of arms, they have two
sets of legs. They have two faces peering out of one giant head so they could
watch all around them as they talked while they read. And they never knew
nothing of love. It was before the origin of love.

Group of Singers: Origin of love...

CLOWNEY: John Cameron Mitchell, thank you for coming on FRESH AIR.

Mr. MITCHELL: Thank you very much.

CLOWNEY: So for people who haven't seen the play and haven't seen the movie
yet, who is Hedwig?

Mr. MITCHELL: Hedwig--you can say Hedwig (pronounced head-wig) or Hedwig
(pronounced head-vig). The name came from--actually, from Ibsen's Hedwig in
"The Wild Duck," who is the girl that was destroyed by too much honesty.

But originally, it was inspired by this woman that was a German Army wife. My
dad was a general in Kansas when I was 14, and she was my brother's baby
sitter, I think. Someone else thought she might have been my cleaning lady.
I can't really remember her. But she was around a lot, and my friend Brenda
and I would go to her trailer. And we realized she had all these--you know,
like a different date every day and, you know, she wasn't even that good
looking, and there was something going on. Only years later, we realized she
was probably a prostitute. And she was our friend. She'd give us drinks, and
we would sing for her. And she was the kind of very broad inspiration for
Hedwig.

CLOWNEY: So after you had this initial idea, you hooked up with Stephen Trask
and his band, Cheater, and you worked on "Hedwig" from there. Where did it go
from there?

Mr. MITCHELL: Well, that's when we started working at the drag rock club
Squeeze Box, where Stephen was the musical director. And I'd never done
drag, I'd never done rock, but I knew I wanted knew I wanted it a very rock
'n' roll piece, so we kept it clubs for awhile. And it became so popular, the
character, that she became the main character. And it was sort of the origin
of love myth, which had a lot to do with the division of self, and the drag
club, which was so much about this divide of gender and this fluidity of
gender. And I mixed in a little bit of my dad. My dad's background is the
commandant of the US sector of Berlin right before the wall came down. So
this divided city was also in the mix, too.

CLOWNEY: At first impression, what is Hedwig to look at when you first see
Hedwig?

Mr. MITCHELL: Well, she's got a big, blond, Farrah Fawcett-inspired wig, you
know. Her fabrics of choice are acid-washed denim and bright colors. And
she's--some of the, you know, perhaps colors and fabrics you saw flooding over
the wall in 1989.

CLOWNEY: And while Hansel's growing up, he's really lonely and he sort of
finds his friends in American glam rock. I think you call them the Crypto
Homos(ph).

Mr. MITCHELL: Yeah. Well, he listens to radio and Bowie and Iggy and Lou
Reed are right up there as, you know, Toni Tennille and Anne Murray. And we
think of her very much as a patchwork person, you know, an exquisite corpse.
There's a song called "Exquisite Corpse," which comes from the surrealist
artist game of one artist would draw the head another would draw the torso and
another would draw the legs. And they just sort of see what they ended up
with at the end. And she is certainly, you know, ending up looking different
than she originally imagined.

CLOWNEY: Yeah. What does it mean to the character then, that Hedwig-Hansel
was sort of coerced, forced into this sex change operation?

Mr. MITCHELL: Well, you know, the whole thing is a little bit of a fairy
tale. So the kid's name is Hansel, originally, you know. And there's this
idea of Hansel and Gretel running away from home, and there's--any kind of
semblance of power is kind of wrested away in order to be free. I mean,
actually, doing it--showing it in Berlin was really interesting because
especially Easterners really picked up on, you know, the idea of--the promise
of freedom, and then suddenly the wall comes down. And, you know, you're
screwed suddenly, you know. Hedwig is, you know, metaphorically, you know,
emasculated and, you know, when masculation is equated with power, and forced
to identify himself as a woman. It's not really a transsexual's story of a
coming of age. It's really a, you know, disempowerment in his case.

CLOWNEY: I'm Peter Clowney filling in for Terry Gross. My guest is John
Cameron Mitchell, writer, director and star of the film "Hedwig and the Angry
Inch." He also wrote and starred in the off-Broadway musical on which he
based the film.

I think--well, let me ask you this. You said you wanted to make a movie
musical unlike most that you'd ever seen, but possibly like the stuff that
you'd seen by Bob Fosse.

Mr. MITCHELL: Yeah.

CLOWNEY: Bob Fosse's movies being things like "All That Jazz" or "Cabaret."

Mr. MITCHELL: Yeah.

CLOWNEY: So what is it that you wanted to take from him?

Mr. MITCHELL: Fosse--I remember seeing "All That Jazz" in high school, and
then later "Cabaret." And I just love the--first of all, the sense of
reality. You know, this wasn't "Singin' in the Rain" where you know you're
not in the real world. "All That Jazz" really freed me up when I realized
that when there's a really strong central character, each scene can almost
have its own style if you're establishing that it's a scene primarily through
that main character's eyes.

And each scene in "Hedwig" has its own style. You know, one scene is all
close-ups. One scene is a lot of animation. Another might be highly
realistic; you know, one camera handheld. Some of the songs are traditional
fantasy numbers, like at the end of "All That Jazz," sort of happening in his
head. And other scenes are motivated in scene, you know, like something like
"Nashville," where, you know, they're performing in that space. I thought
about how real that felt, and wanted to do a lot of the vocals live, shoot
them live for the camera, which is what I did for about half of the songs in
"Hedwig," which requires multiple cameras so you can edit well, which makes it
a little more expensive. But you know, then you don't have to lip-sync the
punk rock.

CLOWNEY: Well, one thing about the Bob Fosse movies that I was thinking
about, in "All That Jazz," there's a lot of huge spectacle, but it's often in
the service of something very sad or uncomfortable, you know. Something
that's going to pull--that really pulls on the audience rather than being a
kind of a release.

Mr. MITCHELL: Hmm.

CLOWNEY: And I see that in "Hedwig," too. I mean, there's a song from the
show called "Wig in a Box" that becomes this kind of spun-out, trailer park
spectacle in the movie, much bigger than it could possibly be in a theater.

Mr. MITCHELL: Mm-hmm.

CLOWNEY: And I think it serves the emotion of the song to push it out that
way, I guess.

Mr. MITCHELL: Yeah. I mean, that certainly has a melancholy underneath.
She starts the song at the lowest point in her life, and probably ends it, you
know, on one of the highest points of her life. And that's probably the
biggest production number. It was kind of shot moment to moment, you know.
We knew we'd end up with the trailer exploding, you know, and becoming a stage
which is what happens at the end because that's something you have to prepare.
But even that came out of a certain spontaneity. I wanted the whole trailer
to actually just blow up. And, you know, our budget--my production designer
was, like, `I can give you one wall coming down.' And we were, like, `Well, I
guess it really should be a wall becoming a stage,' you know.

CLOWNEY: I want to play some of the song "Wig in a Box." Let's listen to
that.

(Soundbite of "Wig in a Box")

Mr. MITCHELL: (As Hedwig) (Singing) On nights like this when the world's a
bit Amish. And the lights go down across the trailer park. I get down, I
feel hot, feel on the verge on going mad. Then it's time to punch the clock.
I put on some makeup, turn on the tape deck and put the wig back on my head.
Suddenly, I'm Miss Midwest Midnight Checkout Queen until I head home, and
I put myself to bed.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. MITCHELL: (As Hedwig) (Singing) I look back on where I'm from, look at
the woman I've become, and the strangest things seem suddenly routine. I look
up from my Vermouth on the rocks, a gift-wrapped wig still in the box of
towering velveteen. I put on some makeup...

CLOWNEY: That's "Wig in a Box" from "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." We'll be
back with John Cameron Mitchell, writer, director and star of the film after a
break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

CLOWNEY: I'm Peter Clowney filling in for Terry Gross. My guest is John
Cameron Mitchell, writer, director and star of the film "Hedwig and the Angry
Inch."

I know you went to a whole lot of different schools because you were kind of
an Army brat. So what was your high school experience like, and how does that
come through "Hedwig"?

Mr. MITCHELL: Well, the beginning of high school was at St. Xavier in
Junction City, Kansas. We were at Ft. Riley, the Army base nearby. And
there was no theater. It was like--there were two high schools, public and
that one. And everybody who got kicked out of the public had to go to the
Catholic high school. So it was highly mixed. It was the unwed mothers, it
was the, you know, Mexican immigrants, it was the Irish families, it was the
general's son. You know, my girlfriend in junior high was a black girl, and
she turned me on to, you know, Parliament/Funkadelic. And it was a really,
really mixed fun place. But you know, there were like 12 people in our
classes, you know, in our entire senior class. And no theater. There was no
money. There was only money for sports because it was a Catholic school after
all.

Then we went to Albuquerque where there was a little bit of theater, but
again, a Catholic school. So the drama teacher, Ms. Herron(ph), who directed
me in a Pinter play, you know, in junior class, you know, gave up because she
just hated the principal. And there was no theater again, so I had to get my
mom to direct something. And, you know, the talent show--I had to choreograph
something, you know, an interpretive dance to a Fleetwood Mac song. And these
were things that I just felt I had to do, you know.

CLOWNEY: What Fleetwood Mac song was it?

Mr. MITCHELL: It was "Sisters of the Moon." Of course, Stevie Nicks was
singing it, and the performance involved a slow-motion crucifixion and
scourging. I mean, it was a Catholic school, so we had to have some sort of a
nod. And we didn't win. We didn't win. The girl who sang the theme from
"Arthur" and played the flute won. But you know, Hedwig never won, either.
So it's all sort of of a piece.

And I was very Catholic as a kid, you know. I was very religious. And some
of Tommy Gnosis, who's Hedwig's lover, who becomes a rock star--his
religiousness sort of comes out of my experience. And his name, Gnosis, comes
from the Gnostic Gospels, which he interprets, you know, the Genesis myth
of Adam and Eve, that Eve is the knowledge giver and was sort of the cool one
in the equation. And that's a very Gnostic view of Genesis. So there's a
little bit of Plato, a little bit of Gnostic, a little bit of Socrates in
there, you know. If it was on the Internet, you could, you know, have a hyper
click there, and go to the Gnostics.

CLOWNEY: Have you ever had anyone look at "Hedwig" and then find out that you
were raised strict Catholic and say, `Oh, it figures'?

Mr. MITCHELL: Probably. I mean, you know, Hedwig does have all the marks of
the Catholic girl, you know. You know what they say about Catholic girls.
She's certainly a rebel.

Actually, I went back to my boarding school. And I went to boarding school
when I was 10 in Scotland, a Benedictine boys school. And I went back to the
priest there who I realized, of course, was a giant queen only in my
adulthood. And I said, you know, `I've become an actor,' and he said
(speaking with Scottish accent), `Well, I'm not surprised.' So I think it's
the people who were there who aren't surprise more than those who might not
have been there.

I was in San Francisco and someone ran up to me at a screening and said, `I'm
your ex-girlfriend's sister from Junction City, Kansas. And she just wanted
me to tell you that she just saw "Hedwig" in Kansas City at a screening, and
she went with her girlfriend and they loved it.' So you know, it all comes
around at the end.

CLOWNEY: When you realized you were gay and decided you really had to come
out, what was that like? Was it traumatic? Did it happen over a long time?

Mr. MITCHELL: Oh, it happened over a long time. And it was the '70s, so I
wasn't really--there were no real role models. But I was, you know, reading
John Rechy and William Burroughs and such, and it seemed a very sort of
scary thing. But I knew eventually I'd come out once I felt more comfortable.
And I got away from home and the military and the Catholic thing and slowly,
you know, traveled the world and realized there were all kinds of people
around. And senior year of college at Northwestern, I came out and traveled
across Europe.

And it was scary, too, because it was the beginning of AIDS as a very visible
thing. And so it felt very political, in a way, to come out, too, and it was
a serious thing. But it was also very--you know, it changed everything. It,
you know, gave me all kinds of confidence. It made me able to do things I had
never done before. Even physically, I felt more coordinated and more relaxed.
You know, I was able to get into all kinds of music and punk rock suddenly
appeared. And it's funny what something like that can do.

CLOWNEY: It's like a passport to something.

Mr. MITCHELL: Yeah. And actually, it happened in San Francisco. I was
visiting my brother at college in his frat. And I sort of had to get away,
and met a guy who's an auto mechanic. And he drove me away on the back of his
motorcycle to Berkeley, and I disappeared for the weekend. I came back to my
brother and he said, `Where were you? And who are you?' He knew something
had happened, something had changed. And it was very exciting.

CLOWNEY: So now that "Hedwig" is wrapped and the film is opening, what are
you going to work on next? What's next for you?

Mr. MITCHELL: Well, I've been working for--in the interim, when "Hedwig"
wasn't happening, on a children's story for film, which is written--I'm
writing with a guy named Julian Koster, who is involved with some bands
down in Athens, Georgia. There's a collective of bands called Elephant
Six. And his stuff is very childlike, but perhaps in the more European,
you know, Roald Dahl, J.N. Barrie children story, where language is very
important and sound and music are very important. And that's called "The
Grandma Phone(ph)." You know, it's about this--well, it's a complicated
story. But working on that. It'll be sort of a dark, probably, you know,
kind of big-budget children's film because it had a lot of animation in it,
and I don't know if I'll ever get the money unless "Hedwig" does well. But
that's OK.

And then there's something else that I'm just, you know, bouncing around in my
head that--it would be a much smaller thing, probably in video--all that I
know is that it will make you laugh and it will make you cry, and it will have
tons of explicit sex. And it would be, you know, not like some of these
French films lately because it will be good sex. It won't be bad, alienated,
degrading French sex. So that will probably involve work shopping with actors
for a long time. You know, maybe the actors'll have to be, you know, lovers.
I don't know if--you know, boyfriend-girlfriend or two boyfriends or two
girlfriends. I'm not sure yet. All I know is that the sex might be the
beginning and the whole relationship, you know, and the sex, how it develops
through a relationship. But it'll be a real story, and it will be somewhat
improvisationally acted and documented.

CLOWNEY: Why do want to do that? Why do you want to do that?

Mr. MITCHELL: Well, I just haven't seen sex used in that way. I've seen it
used as shock value in art films, and it's never erotic. You know, it seems
to--and I actually am sort of interested in really good porn films that almost
move into narrative and move into a place that's very moving and very funny.
Because as we all know, sex can be very funny, it can be very moving, it can
be very boring. It can be degrading and it can be highly satisfying. But
just something like really--something I really haven't seen.

CLOWNEY: Well, John Cameron Mitchell, I really want to thank you for coming
on FRESH AIR.

Mr. MITCHELL: You're welcome.

CLOWNEY: John Cameron Mitchell is the writer, director and star of the new
film "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," based on his hit off-Broadway musical.

I'm Peter Clowney, and this is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. MITCHELL: (As Hedwig) (Singing) My sex change operation got botched. My
guardian angel fell asleep on the watch. Now all I've got is a Barbie doll
crotch. I've got an angry inch. Six inches forward and five inches back, I
got an, I've got an angry inch. Six inches forward and five inches back, I
got an, I've got an angry inch.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. MITCHELL: (As Hedwig) (Singing) I'm from the land where you still hear
the cries.

Unidentified Woman: (Singing) Ooh, ooh, ooh.

Mr. MITCHELL: (As Hedwig) (Singing) I have to get out ...(unintelligible).
I changed my name and assumed the disguise, I've got an angry inch.

Six inches forward and five inches back, I got an, I've got an angry inch.

(Credits)

Announcer: This is NPR, National Public Radio.

(Soundbite of music)

CLOWNEY: Coming up, from "Spinal Tap" to "Best in Show," a talk with
Christopher Guest about making mocumentaries. Also, Ken Tucker reviews the
debut album by the band the Yayhoos, and Maureen Corrigan reviews "The Fourth
Hand," John Irving's new novel.

(Soundbite of music)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Review: Debut album by Yayhoos called "Fear Not the Obvious"
PETER CLOWNEY, host:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Peter Clowney, sitting in for Terry Gross.

It's standard practice for rock musicians to cover songs by other acts they
admire, adding their own twist to them. Rock critic Ken Tucker says that
sometimes these interpretations can be as entertaining as the originals, and
he's found a new example on the debut album by a group called the Yayhoos.

(Soundbite of song)

YAYHOOS: (Singing) What are we waiting for? We didn't come here just to hang
around. Now don't be shy and don't be coy. We don't know what's going down.

KEN TUCKER reporting:

The Yayhoos--that's spelled Y-A-Y-H-O-O-S--are a bunch of yahoos whom you may
or may not know individually. Singer Dan Baird used to lead the Georgia
Satellites. You might remember their radio hit "Keep Your Hands to Yourself."
Guitarist and producer Eric Ambel has played in the bands of everyone from
Joan Jett to Steve Earle to currently Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The
other two guys, Terry Anderson and Keith Christopher, have been around a lot,
too. I love the name of these guys' CD. It's called "Fear Not the
Obvious"--if for no other reason than it fesses up to their strategy. Never
strain to come up with a new riff if you can rip off a good one from someone
else.

(Soundbite of "For Crying Out Loud")

YAYHOOS: (Singing) Come over here, why don't you? Sit your sweet ass down.
Tell me about your story one more time. You know I heard it said--in fact, I
think you're the one who said it--everyone gets heartbroke. It ain't no
crime. Been there before, for crying out loud. It's going to be all right,
for crying out loud.

TUCKER: That's Keith Christopher of the Yayhoos getting in touch with his Rod
Stewart in The Faces side on his own composition, "For Crying Out Loud." But,
really, didn't that sound like the best Faces outtake you never heard?

Sometimes the Yayhoos are all too true to their name, tossing off tunes that
sound as if they were written on stage during a performance fueled by a few
too many beers.

(Soundbite of song)

YAYHOOS: (Singing) Well, you know I said I'd love you for all time. Well,
sometimes I just can't believe you're mine. But every now and then, I'm ready
to say when. Oh, baby, I love you, just leave me the (censored) alone.

TUCKER: The Yayhoos wrap up their sloppy, happy party with a particularly
nice surprise. These hard rockers lean into, of all things, Abba's 1977 hit
"Dancing Queen." Yes, it's partly played for laughs and surprise, but there's
also something very sweet, even moving about the obvious affection they have
for the song's great hook and open-hearted emotion.

(Soundbite of "Dancing Queen")

YAYHOOS: (Singing) Oh, you can dance, you can jive, having the time of your
life. See that girl. Watch that scene, digging the dancing queen. Friday
night and the lights are low, looking out for a place to go where they play
the rock music, getting in the swing, come look for a king. Anybody could be
that guy. The night is young and the music's high. Where they play the rock
music, everything is fine. You're in the mood for a dance and when you get
the chance, you are the dancing queen, young and sweet, only 17.

TUCKER: I don't know whether we'll ever get another CD from the Yayhoos. It
has the feel of a one-off project. But if they existed for no other reason
than to cover one song by Abba, they've done America proud.

(Soundbite of "Dancing Queen")

YAYHOOS: (Singing) You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life.
Oh, see that girl. Watch that scene, digging the dancing queen. You're a
teaser, you turn them on, leave them burning and then you're gone.

CLOWNEY: Ken Tucker is critic at large for Entertainment Weekly. He
reviewed "Fear Not the Obvious" by the Yayhoos.

Coming up, Christopher Guest on making mockumentaries. This is FRESH AIR.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Filler: By policy of WHYY, this information is restricted and has
been omitted from this transcript

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Review: Novel "The Fourth Hand"
PETER CLOWNEY, host:

The publication of John Irving's latest novel "The Fourth Hand" is one of
this summer's major literary events. Book critic Maureen Corrigan gives it a
thumbs down.

MAUREEN CORRIGAN reporting:

The first thing I noticed about John Irving's new novel, "The Fourth Hand," is
that it's in really bad taste. The plot revolves around a handsome New York
television journalist named Patrick Wallingford, who, while he's reporting
from India, has his hand gobbled up by a hungry circus lion. The gruesome
amputation is witnessed on TV screens around the world, and one sympathetic
viewer, a Wisconsin woman named Doris Clausen, decides a little too hastily to
donate her still healthy husband's hand to Wallingford. Conveniently, Doris'
husband soon dies in a bizarre accident involving a beer truck. But as a
condition before she hands over the hand, Doris insists on having sex with
Wallingford so that she'll finally become pregnant. It seems that for years
Doris' dearly departed husband was shooting blanks.

Doris also demands post-operative visitation rights with her late husband's
hand. The hand seems to nostalgically revel in these visits. Unlike horror
films such as "The Beast with Five Fingers," which have drawn on the same
premise, Irving's novel seems to want us to be touched rather than repulsed by
this hand with a mind of its own situation.

Events become even more inane when Wallingford falls hopelessly in love with
Doris, who, after their one successful sexual encounter, now only wants to
hold hands.

The next thing I realized is that, unusual for a novel by John Irving, I
didn't care much about any of the characters. Patrick is a small-screen
pretty boy who's all face, no substance. One of his many ex-lovers issues
this parting estimation of his character: `It's been flattering to be with a
man who can so thoroughly lose himself in a woman,' she says. `On the other
hand, there's so little you in you that I suspect you could lose yourself in
any woman.'

Doris is a classic Irving baroque who, in this novel, is asked to uncontort
herself to fit the role of romantic heroine. The minor characters are fun, a
"Sex in the City" type cast of newswomen, the renowned Boston hand surgeon
with a dog poop fetish, but they're not in the company of any major players
worth supporting.

Here's the last thing that struck me about "The Fourth Hand." I read the
whole novel through, breathlessly, in a day or two. That's because Irving is
such an adroit storyteller that even when he has a ridiculous story to tell,
he does it with such humor, narrative flourish and snake oil salesman
conviction that he sweeps readers like me along. Irving keeps whisking out
themes here that never quite cohere into one of his grand Dickensian
narratives. He spends a lot of time ruminating on the exploitative nature of
TV news. The CNN type station Patrick reports for is dubbed `The All-Disaster
Network,' and we're treated to Irving's take on the coverage of events like
JFK Jr.'s fatal plane crash. Irving also wants to engage more timeless
questions, like the possibility of predestination and redemption through
tragedy. But his reach exceeds his grasp, so to speak.

Patrick's hand transplant ultimately fails and the new hand, courtesy of
Doris' late husband, has to be surgically removed. For a long time
afterwards, Patrick experiences phantom limb syndrome, a tingling in his
missing fingers, a twitch in a wrist that's no longer there. All the time I
was reading "The Fourth Hand," I felt like I was experiencing phantom novel
syndrome. I had the ghostly sensation of being in the company of something
like a John Irving novel, but whenever I looked closely at this story, it
vanished into thin air.

CLOWNEY: Maureen Corrigan teaches literature at Georgetown University. She
reviewed "The Fourth Hand" by John Irving.

(Credits)

CLOWNEY: For Terry Gross, I'm Peter Clownley.
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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22:30

From 'Designing Women' To 'Hacks', Jean Smart's Career Is Still Going Strong

Smart is nominated for Emmy Awards for her performances Hacks, about a veteran comic working with a Gen-Z comedy writer, and the crime drama Mare Of Easttown. Originally broadcast May 2021.

52:30

'Storm Lake' Documentary Depicts The Triumph And Struggle Of A Local Newspaper

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Art Cullen discusses the battle to keep print news alive in small-town America. Cullen runs Iowa's Storm Lake Times, along with his brother, the paper's publisher.

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