"A Rational Conversation" is a column by writer Eric Ducker in which he gets on iChat or Gchat or the phone or whatever with a special guest to examine a music-related subject that's entered the pop culture consciousness. It previously appeared at The Daily Swarm.
There's a difference between ruminating and rambling, and Roger Rosenblatt crosses the line in The Boy Detective, his dilatory, meandering new memoir about his New York boyhood. I was a big fan of Kayak Morning, Rosenblatt's meditation on the tenaciousness of grief published in early 2012, four years after the sudden death of his 38-year-old daughter, a pediatrician and mother of three small children. But his latest, while less melancholic, more playful, and occasionally endearingly quirky, ambles at a pace that makes rush hour traffic down Second Avenue seem speedy.
Roy Choi ushered in a food truck "new wave" in Los Angeles, making street fare edgier, tastier. Five years ago, he and a partner launched Kogi — Korean for meat — with a small fleet of trucks offering up a Korean-Mexican fusion that inspired food entrepreneurs in cities across America where the trend caught fire. His signature creation? The short rib taco: warm tortillas, Korean barbecue beef, cilantro-onion-and lime, topped with a spicy-soy slaw.
A propulsive new thriller set in 19th century Ireland hits the shelves this week. It's called "Red Sky in Morning," and it's the first novel from Paul Lynch, who is best known in his native Ireland as a film critic. But our books critic, Alan Cheuse, says this one doesn't read like a debut.
Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 10:36 am
Food porn or art? That's for you decide.
But one thing is for certain: The jumbo-sized images in The Photography of Modernist Cuisine are truly awesome.
In one, a ham and cheese sandwich levitates in midair. Then, a Weber grill gets sliced in half lengthwise to expose a pink burger cooking on another page. And blueberries and peas balloon to the size of dinner plates and melons.
Monday is the 34th anniversary of the 1979 storming of the American Embassy in Tehran, when Iranian militants took 66 hostages and held them for more than a year. U.S.-Iranian relations have been contentious ever since, but recent events have stirred hopes for progress.
Iranian voters overwhelmingly chose a more moderate president in June, and American and Iranian mediators are meeting to try to resolve disputes about Iran's nuclear program.
Some writers you read and move on, but every now and then you read one whose work knocks you back against the wall. This happened to me with the great Italian novelist Elena Ferrante.
I first encountered her through her scalding 2002 novel, The Days Of Abandonment, whose narrator, Olga, may be the scariest jilted wife since Medea. What makes Olga scary is not what she does, but what she thinks and feels, and her ferocious precision in describing everything from lousy sexual encounters to her not-altogether-maternal feelings about her children.
Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 3:50 pm
Catherine Chung went from mathematics to writing, though she says words were always her first love. She was named one of Granta's New Voices in 2010, and her first novel, Forgotten Country, received honorable mention for a PEN/Hemingway Award last year.
In Forgotten Country, Chung writes of a family with a curse that stretches back generations — from their time in Korea to their life in America. Since the Japanese occupation of Korea, each generation of the family has lost a daughter.
And now we'll continue with this theme of using hip-hop to teach. When legendary lyricist and DJ MC Lyte first appeared on the national scene 1988, she wasn't thinking about education. This is her hit song, "Lyte as a Rock."
Did you know November is National Novel Writing Month?
It isn't by order of Congress, but it is on the internet, where you'll see this combination of letters — NaNoWriMo — all over the place, making absolutely no sense and sounding to the uninitiated like a species of caterpillar or a ship on Star Trek. Amusingly enough, even that is too long for participants trying to pound out a book in a month, so they call it, very often, "NaNo."
Credit Rick Smolanagainst / Against All Odds Productions
Amy Tan's latest novel, The Valley of Amazement, will be published on Tuesday.
Credit Courtesy of Amy Tan
Amy Tan's grandmother (right) poses with a friend against a painted backdrop. Her outfit was an ensemble traditionally reserved for courtesans — although it could have been a costume borrowed for this portrait.
Amy Tan was 200 pages into a new novel when she attended a large exhibition on Shanghai life in the early 1900s. While there, she bought a book she thought might help her as she researched details on life in the Old City. She stopped turning pages when she came upon a group portrait.
Hopefully, this hasn't happened to you. You were just getting excited about a new television show, and then it disappeared from the air - may have happened. We're a few weeks into the fall television season, and the ax has already fallen on some new shows. Others, though, are starting to show their star power.
Eric Deggans, NPR's TV critic, joined our colleague, Renee Montagne, to talk about the losers and winners so far.
When Teddy Roosevelt was president, reporter Lincoln Steffens came to him with a request: "Mr. President," he said, "I want to investigate corruption in the federal government." And Roosevelt responded in a rather astonishing way, as presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin tells NPR's Steve Inskeep.
Sir Terry Pratchett is one of Britain's best-selling authors. His science-fiction series Discworld has sold millions of copies worldwide. Pratchett is incredibly prolific — since his first novel was published in 1971, he has written on average two books every year.
But in 2007, 59-year-old Pratchett announced that he had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. As a result, Pratchett can no longer read.
Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 10:56 am
That Benjamin Palmer dropped $3,500 at Phillips auction house in New York is not surprising. The 217-year-old company, headquartered on Park Avenue, regularly sells artwork for tens — and often hundreds — of thousands of dollars.
What is surprising, however, is that he took nothing home. He has nothing to put up on his wall or put on a pedestal in his living room. Physically, his acquisition lies among a hub of wires, and the likelihood is he will never touch it. But it lives virtually inside every computer, smartphone or tablet in the world.
More than 400,000 Americans died in World War II, but thousands of them were never found. Some died in a prison camp, and others were lost behind enemy lines — and some were on planes that were lost in the vast Pacific ocean.
On Sept. 1, 1944, a massive B-24 bomber carrying a crew of 11 people went down in the South Pacific. Its wreckage remained undiscovered, and the fate of its airmen unknown for decades. Then an American scientist, Dr. Pat Scannon, became obsessed with the mystery of these missing GIs.
In 1980s Arkansas, one concern trumped all others: Satan. He whispered backwards on our rock albums. He possessed otherwise good people's bodies and brought them to sin. His worshippers — it was honestly believed and confidently proclaimed — lived among us.
So when my stepmother opened our town's first bookstore I was amazed by one book in particular: an infernal red and black volume called The Satanic Verses.
Steve Lickteig's life as he knew it was a lie. Lickteig thought he was the adopted son of a former World War II vet and his wife. Life was simple: They ran a farm in Kansas, went to mass at the local Catholic church and raised Steve and their eight biological children.
Lickteig wondered who his real parents were and thought he'd set out to find them someday. Then, when he turned 18, two of his best friends told him the truth: His adopted parents were actually his biological grandparents. The woman who he knew as his older sister was actually his mother.
There's a phrase in French — "L'esprit de l'escalier," meaning "staircase wit" — for that moment when you've lost an argument and are walking away, and waaay too late, think of the perfect comeback. If you could just rewind your life a few minutes, you'd win the argument.
That's pretty much the setup in the new British comedy About Time.
Why The Dearth Of Black Commediennes In 'SNL' Cast?
Why should Saturday Night Live care that there are no black women in its cast of comedians?
That question has percolated through my Twitter feeds and Facebook pages over the past few days, thanks to some questions I asked on social media before talking over the issue Friday with Robert Siegel on All Things Considered. And it's an understandable reaction.
Seventeen years ago, the poet, writer and editor David Lehman resolved to write a poem every day. It sounds a little similar to National Novel Writing Month, which kicked off yesterday — except that Lehman kept it up for five years, publishing many of the daily poems in literary journals and in two well-received collections
This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL THAT JAZZ")
SIMON: The bowler hat, cocked just so; the jazz hands, splayed; the slouch and shoulder roll; the turned-in knee; the turned-around chair; the cane used for everything but walking; the bump and grind spun into a kind of poetry - the signature genius of Bob Fosse.