Arts

Book Reviews
6:03 am
Wed July 16, 2014

'Pirates In The Heartland': At Least This Review Is Safe For Work

cover detail

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 10:16 am

There's a line pop culture likes to flirt with. It's the line between naughty and nasty, between seamy and sordid, between icky and "come on, really, I just ate lunch." Back in the mid-'60s, when ladies always wore stockings and gentlemen still wore hats, S. Clay Wilson left that line in his rearview mirror.

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Remembrances
5:33 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Jamil Ahmad, Who Published Debut Novel At 79, Dies At 83

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 9:32 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Now let's remember a writer who was published for the first time in the final years of his life. Jamil Ahmad has died at the age of 83. When he was 79, he published a book of short stories to widespread acclaim.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Parallels
2:44 am
Wed July 16, 2014

The Grandes Dames Of The Sea Ply The Tuscan Waters

The vintage boats of Argentario Sailing Week, some more than a century old, plied the waters off Italy's Tuscan coast, known for its ideal sailing conditions.
Sylvia Poggioli NPR

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 9:48 am

A most unusual regatta recently took place off Tuscany's southern coast: Vintage sailboats known as the Grandes Dames of the Sea — some more than 100 years old — plied the waters of Porto Santo Stefano, a fishing village known for ideal sailing conditions

Among the more than 40 yachts was one, Manitou, that was known as "the floating White House" when her owner was President John F. Kennedy.

The boat is made of mahogany — a 62-foot boat that weighs 30 tons, skipper Alex Tillery says proudly. In contrast, he says, a modern 62-footer would probably weigh 8 tons.

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Business
4:01 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Why Blockbusters And Flops Cost The Same At The Box Office

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 6:23 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

If you go to the movies this week, you might find yourself sitting in a sold-out show of "Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes," the summer's latest blockbuster. Or, you might be sitting in a nearly empty theater down the hall watching something far less popular. Well, here's the thing - the ticket price to the blockbuster is exactly the same as the less popular movie. Jacob Goldstein from our Planet Money team wondered why.

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The Salt
3:21 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

U.S. Customs Seize Giant African Snails Bound For Dinner Plates

A single snail from an air cargo shipment of 67 live snails that arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on July 1. Officials said that the 35 pounds of snails arrived from Nigeria along with paperwork stating they were for human consumption.
Greg Bartman AP

Originally published on Sat July 19, 2014 11:21 am

Oh no! Snails are getting a bad name in the U.S.

I'm not talking about the delicate garlic-and-butter escargots that the French favor and savor.

It's giant African land snails, also known as Archachatina marginata, banana rasp snails or a number of other names they go by.

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Author Interviews
2:03 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

An Army Wife Charts Her Struggles In 'No Man's War'

Angela Ricketts, whose husband deployed eight times over 22 years, says she had to get over resentment around parenting their three kids alone while he was gone.
Courtesy of Counterpoint Press

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 2:52 pm

People often expect military wives to be strong and stoic. But in her new memoir, No Man's War: Irreverent Confessions of an Infantry Wife, Angela Ricketts writes about the difficulties she faced during her husband's deployments — including the stresses it put on their marriage and on raising their three children.

She also writes about the toll of always bracing herself for the next goodbye.

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The Two-Way
1:06 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Odin's Beard! Marvel Announces A New Thor — And She's A Woman

The new Thor.
Marvel

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 1:47 pm

The Mighty Thor, the Son of Odin, the God of Thunder, the comic book god with the hammer is a woman.

Not quite — but here's the tweet announcing the new Thor:

"No longer is the classic Thunder God able to hold the mighty hammer, Mjölnir, and a brand new female hero will emerge worthy of the name THOR," Marvel said in a statement.

The new Thor will be written by Jason Aaron with art by Russell Dauterman.

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Author Interviews
11:20 am
Tue July 15, 2014

For Caine Prize Winner, Writing Went From Phase To Way Of Life

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

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Movie Interviews
11:20 am
Tue July 15, 2014

In 'Underwater Dreams,' Robotics Team Puts Lens On Immigration Debate

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

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Monkey See
10:51 am
Tue July 15, 2014

At This Summer's TV Press Tour, A Resounding Sense Of 'Meh'

Executive producer Anne Heche (left) and actress Kate Walsh speak at the Bad Judge panel during the 2014 Summer Television Critics Association in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 11:30 am

There's a widespread belief that critics hate everything, revel in hating everything, and cannot be pleased. It's widespread and wrong, though.

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The Two-Way
6:47 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Book News: Pakistani Civil Servant Who Published Debut Novel At 79 Dies

Novelist Jamil Ahmad. His wife, Helga, is in the background.
Jim Wildman NPR

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 7:40 am

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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Book Reviews
6:03 am
Tue July 15, 2014

En Garde! 'Traitor's Blade' Delivers Adventure At Swordpoint

Jo Fletcher Books

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 12:19 pm

When fantasy has gotten so grim and dark that the term "grimdark" has been coined to describe certain authors, things may have gone slightly overboard. With Traitor's Blade, the first installment of a new fantasy series called the Greatcoat Quartet, author Sebastien de Castell seems to be taking a stand against the grimdark wave. Unlike the bleak, bloody work of George R.R. Martin and Joe Abercrombie, Traitor's Blade is a swashbuckling romp packed with charisma, camaraderie, quick wit and even quicker swordplay.

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Book Your Trip
2:29 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Travel Disasters Bring Out The Best, The Worst ... And The Cannibalism

"When there is danger, when there is destruction, we kind of feel like we're on the edge of life, fully alive, and that can really bring out some strong prose," says author Mitchell Zuckoff.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 1:41 pm

Author Sarah Lotz is terrified of flying, so naturally every time she gets on a plane she imagines the worst. "I imagine how it's going to smell if things start burning," she says. "I imagine the thunk of luggage falling out of the compartments at the top. ... I imagine it all in absolutely horrible detail."

All those horrible imaginings came in handy when Lotz was writing her new book The Three — the story of three children who are the only survivors of four separate plane crashes that occur in different parts of the world on the same day.

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Code Switch
2:28 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Was The Green Turtle The First Asian-American Superhero?

The Shadow Hero, a new graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew, revives the comic book hero the Green Turtle.
Sonny Liew Courtesy of First Second Books

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 10:39 am

For the first time since the 1940s, the Green Turtle is returning to comic bookshelves. The long-forgotten character has been resurrected in The Shadow Hero, a new graphic novel about what many comic fans consider the first Asian-American superhero.

"He's like a classic, American World War II hero," says cartoonist Gene Luen Yang, who collaborated with illustrator Sonny Liew on The Shadow Hero.

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Remembrances
5:24 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Writer Nadine Gordimer Captured Apartheid's Contradictions

In addition to her 15 novels, Nadine Gordimer authored several volumes of short stories and nonfiction.
Radu Sigheti Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 7:32 pm

South African writer Nadine Gordimer, who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1991, died Sunday at the age of 90. Gordimer merged the personal and political to create a compelling portrait of the injustice of life under apartheid.

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The Salt
2:35 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Sandwich Monday: The Teriyaki Tofu Burger From Gabutto Burger

"Slightly healthy."
NPR

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 3:18 pm

Here at Sandwich Monday, we love exploring the many varied cuisines of the world. So when we found ourselves in the food court of the Mitsuwa Marketplace Japanese supermarket just outside Chicago, we went directly for the burger stand, Gabutto Burger.

We ordered the Tofu Burger, marinated in teriyaki and deep-fried, which the menu describes as "slightly healthy."

Eva: "Slightly healthy" is how someone might lie about their figure on match.com.

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Book Reviews
2:34 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

'Mockingbird Next Door': A Genteel Peek Into Harper Lee's Quiet Life

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 8:53 pm

It's probably the most oft-cited literary fantasy of all time: I'm talking about that passage in Catcher in the Rye where Holden Caulfield says: "What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though."

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Author Interviews
2:34 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

How A Factory Man Fought To Save His Furniture Company

Author Beth Macy worked for years as a reporter for the Roanoke Times. "When I became a journalist, I gravitated to those kinds of stories of what I call 'outsiders and underdogs,' " she says.
David Hungate Courtesy of Little, Brown and Co.

In the town of Bassett in southern Virginia, some of the downtown street lights are dark. The lamps, maintained by the once prosperous Bassett Furniture Co., are now funded by voluntary contributions from residents and businesses — when they can afford it.

Bassett is just one of many towns and cities in Virginia and North Carolina where scores of furniture-making plants have closed in the past 20 years, mostly because of competition from China and other foreign countries.

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The Two-Way
1:12 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

With Bright Benches, London Shows Off Its Love Of Books

Jane Headford designed this Dr. Seuss bench, which is spending the summer alongside the River Thames
Courtesy of The National Literacy Trust

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 12:36 pm

Chicago had cows, St. Louis has cakes and now London has benches that look like opened books.

The National Literacy Trust, along with public art promoter Wild in Art, has commissioned and placed 50 benches around town that are painted to look like pages and scenes from famous books.

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Goats and Soda
12:20 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Nadine Gordimer: Wise Words About Bettering A Troubled World

Nadine Gordimer visited Alexandra, the black township near Johannesburg, in 1986 to pay homage to victims of political unrest.
Reuters /Landov

The great novelist Nadine Gordimer, whose stories told of the immorality of apartheid in her beloved South Africa, has died at age 90.

Gordimer was not only a writer. She was an activist in the fight to end apartheid. In her writings and speeches, the Nobel Prize winner offered words of enlightenment for anyone sharing her commitment to bring a better life to those suffering from prejudice, poor health, poverty, and other ills.

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Monkey See
11:56 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Asking Katherine Heigl The 'Difficult' Question At Press Tour

Katherine Heigl and Alfre Woodard, stars of NBC's new fall drama State of Affairs, speak at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour in Los Angeles.
Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

It may be the toughest task of all at a press tour in Los Angeles packed with TV critics from across the nation: How to ask a celebrity a tough question about her bad reputation without looking like a jerk yourself.

That moment surfaced for me Sunday, when trying to ask star Katherine Heigl about longstanding rumors in Hollywood that she and her manager/mother have been difficult to work with across many projects.

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The Two-Way
9:37 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Nadine Gordimer, Nobel-Winning Chronicler Of Apartheid, Dies

Gordimer, shown here in 2006, died in her sleep Sunday at home in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Guillermo Arias AP

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 10:57 am

Nadine Gordimer, a Nobel Prize-winning author famed for her portrayals of South Africa under apartheid, died Sunday, her family said in a statement. She was 90.

Gordimer was considered a modern literary genius, an important chronicler of the injustices of racial segregation along with other white writers such as Athol Fugard and J.M. Coetzee.

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The Two-Way
7:03 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Book News: Famed Philosopher Accused Of Plagiarizing White Separatist Journal

Marxist philosopher Slavoj Zizek, photographed in 2012 in London.
Tim Whitby Getty Images

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

Marxist philosopher Slavoj Žižek — who is one of the world's most prominent living public intellectuals — has been accused of plagiarizing from the white separatist magazine American Renaissance. (The magazine calls itself a "race realist" publication, while the Southern Poverty Law Center calls it a hub for "proponents of eugenics and blatant anti-black racists.")

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Movies
4:12 pm
Sun July 13, 2014

Kids' Films And Stories Share A Dark Theme: Dead Mothers

Sarah Boxer is the author of Ultimate Blogs and the graphic novel In The Floyd Archives.
Courtesy of Sarah Boxer

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 4:37 pm

The death of Bambi's mother has moved — and horrified — generations of children. The fleeing, the gunshot, the desperate search and then the gut-wrenching words: "Your mother can't be with you anymore."

For many, that scene was traumatizing; for some it was the very first experience of loss. But Bambi is far from the only animated film featuring a mother's tragic death.

Just ask Sarah Boxer.

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Author Interviews
4:12 pm
Sun July 13, 2014

William T. Vollmann Explores The Afterlife In 'Last Stories'

Originally published on Sun July 13, 2014 6:10 pm

William T. Vollmann has been called a "unique and essential voice in American letters." He's the author of novels, story collections, a memoir and massive works of nonfiction.

His latest book, Last Stories and Other Stories, is his first work of fiction in nine years. And he says at the book's beginning that it will be his final work — as a living human, at least. "Any subsequent productions bearing my name will have been written by a ghost," he writes.

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Movies
4:12 pm
Sun July 13, 2014

The Best Movies Of The Year — From 20 Years Ago

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 9:19 pm

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Twenty years ago, movies were movies. Great, good, bad, iconic, worth remembering.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FORREST GUMP")

HANNA HALL: (As Jenny) Run Forrest run.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SPEED")

DENNIS HOPPER: (As Howard Payne) Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50 it blows up.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PULP FICTION")

JOHN TRAVOLTA: (As Vincent Vega) Do know what they call a quarter pounder with cheese in Paris?

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Author Interviews
8:52 am
Sun July 13, 2014

'The Interior Circuit' Meditates On Grief And Mexico City

Originally published on Sun July 13, 2014 10:47 am

Transcript

FRANCISCO GOLDMAN: Mexico City skies are always dramatic - sometimes soaring in azure, with long rows of choreographed white clouds moving slowly or swiftly. The city's pollution abetted sunsets are spectacular. Conflagrations blazing up over the Western mountains, filling the sky with balloon-dye colors, igniting the glassy, modern office buildings that I can see out my rear windows into giant, neon rectangles of scarlet.

ARUN RATH, HOST:

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NPR Story
8:52 am
Sun July 13, 2014

Founders Claimed A Subversive Right To 'Nature's God'

Originally published on Sun July 13, 2014 12:14 pm

The U.S. was not founded as a Christian nation, says historian Matthew Stewart. He tells NPR's Arun Rath about his book Nature's God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic.

Sunday Puzzle
7:03 am
Sun July 13, 2014

A Puzzle With Ch-Ch-Changes

NPR

Originally published on Sun July 13, 2014 10:47 am

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is called "Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes." Every answer is a word starting with the letters "ch," and your clue will be an anagram of the word.

Last week's challenge: Name a famous actress of the past whose last name has five letters. Move the middle letter to the end to name another famous actress of the past. Who are these actresses?

Answer: Greta Garbo/Eva or Zsa Zsa Gabor

Winner: Craig Moreland from Okemos, Mich.

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My Guilty Pleasure
4:25 am
Sun July 13, 2014

Confessions Of A Former 'Sweet Valley High' Addict

Often, when people ask me what I read as a young girl, I lie. Or, I should say, I lie by omission. I tell them about my brilliant fourth-grade teacher, Miss Artis, who assigned us Johnny Tremain and Where the Red Fern Grows and Tuck Everlasting, all books that made an impression on me. And people nod in approval.

But the answer I don't usually give is that my favorite books, the ones I read and re-read until the covers were creased and the pages were loosed from the spine, were Sweet Valley High.

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