"It was a great time for storytellers," says Matthew Biggs, the central character in Kenneth Calhoun's haunting debut novel, Black Moon. The irony of his comment comes with a horrific aftertaste: The world is suffering from a sudden, unexplainable pandemic that's made everyone a perpetual insomniac. Biggs is one of the few who can still sleep. Humanity's state of chronic wakefulness has caused mass insanity — in the noonday sun, dreams overflow and chaos reigns.
You can listen to plenty of actors performing the works of William Shakespeare. But imagine if you could hear the voice of the young playwright himself — or the older one, for that matter — reading his own writing aloud.
Well, we can't take you back that far. But in the early 1960s, when recorded readings by authors were rare, a young couple in Boston decided to be literary audio pioneers.
My wife and I recently moved to Los Angeles. To prepare, I reread a handful of the Philip Marlowe novels by the great Raymond Chandler, from The Big Sleep to The Little Sister. Chandler, who died in 1959, was a forefather of the modern detective novel. I've been a Chandler fan for years, but I also wanted to reread him because I knew I'd be reviewing a new Chandler book — written by somebody else.
Beginning in 1952, and running through 1968, there was a legendary radio show called Klavan And Finch that was on WNEW in New York City. It was a four-hour live program featuring music and antic conversation between handsome, straight man Dee Finch and his live-wire counterpart, Gene Klavan.
Back in 1900, when Americans in cities counted on ice to keep food, milk and medicines fresh, New York Mayor Robert Van Wyck's career ended when it emerged that a company given a monopoly on the ice business was doubling prices while giving the mayor and his cronies big payoffs.
Looks like reports of a looming "guacapocalypse" have been vastly overstated.
This morning, guacamole lovers woke to headlines warning that Mexican fast-food chain Chipotle could eventually be forced to drop the dip from its menu, if changing global weather patterns continue to drive volatility in the price of avocados.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. So maybe the weather has kept you inside more than usual, or you're looking for a few new guilty pleasure to add to your DVR. We've got you covered. NPR television critic Eric Deggans is with us in our Washington, D.C., studios to talk about some of the midseason television debuts. And we'll even talk about a few shows that don't begin with "Scan-" and end with "-dal." Eric, welcome back.
If someone you cared for died, you might be haunted by questions about how your life might be different had that person survived, about what you might say if you had one more chance to talk. Those questions are behind author Jason Mott's novel The Returned.
The book is now an ABC television series, Resurrection, which premieres Sunday.
Mott tells NPR's Michel Martin that the book was inspired by a dream about his mother returning to life, and how such a scenario would play out if it really happened.
They're the perfect couple, circa 1947. He's craggy, yet banal. She's well-coiffed and febrile. The circumstances? Dire. Always. Just as unfailingly, though, love will out for these two, for we're on familiar turf: the geometrically ordered, narratively numbing world of mid-century comic-book passion. More specifically, this is Young Romance 2: The Early Simon & Kirby Romance Comics, a collection of some of the first such comics ever produced.
This is FRESH AIR. We're going to remember Justin Kaplan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer who also edited the 16th edition of "Bartlett's Familiar Quotations," published in 1992 and the 17th edition, published in 2002. Justin Kaplan died Sunday at the age 88. His first book, a 1966 biography of Mark Twain, won a National Book Award, as well as a Pulitzer Prize. He also wrote biographies of Walt Whitman and Lincoln Steffens.
Parks And Recreation features one of the most impeccable collections of characters ever assembled for one comedy. To a person, they are funny, human, beautifully realized, individual, and — perhaps most important — lovingly rendered.
But as much as I love everyone on that show, I will admit that I have a favorite, particularly when it comes to the characters on this particular show who are missing from practically every other show, and that's Donna Meagle, played by Retta.
Watching Wes Anderson's films can often feel like a tumble down a rabbit hole. With the opening credits comes entry into a world that's both weird and wonderful. The writer and director of movies like Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom has long had a point of view that is completely original — even dating back to the fifth grade, when he and a friend dramatized a Kenny Rogers album.
"We built quite a nice set," Anderson recalls. "We just performed the whole album of The Gambler with puppets playing instruments."
It might have been the most diverse Academy Awards telecast in recent memory.
Sunday night's broadcast was capped by British director Steve McQueen accepting a best picture Oscar for his film 12 Years a Slave — the first film directed by a black man to earn that honor. His emotional acceptance speech was dedicated to "all of the people who endured slavery and the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today."
Nearly 20 kids went back to high school Monday after a very special weekend: They danced onstage with Pharrell at the Oscars Sunday night. It's the fourth time students of Los Angeles' Academy of Music at Hamilton High School have teamed up with the superstar musician in recent months.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish.
The French filmmaker who shook up European cinema and offered inspiration to directors as varied as Woody Allen and David Lynch died on Saturday. Alain Resnais caused a sensation with his films "Hiroshima Mon Amour" and "Last Year at Marienbad" in the 1950s and '60s. Critic Bob Mondello offers an appreciation.
In March 1964, there was a heinous murder in the Kew Gardens neighborhood of Queens, N.Y. Back then, there was no 911 emergency number, there were no good Samaritan laws and, despite her cries, there was no one coming to help Catherine Genovese.
Kitty, as she was known, was a bar manager on her way home from work in the early morning hours. According to news reports at the time, she was attacked not once but three times over the course of a half-hour. What's more: There were apparently 38 witnesses.
Long ago, McDonald's chose to honor St. Patrick banishing the snakes from Ireland with its Shamrock Shake, made with real snake. It was known for its subtle flavor and powerful aphrodisiac qualities. While the recipe has changed slightly over the years, the powerful aphrodisiac qualities remain.
Peter: Sucking this up through the straw is pretty hard work just to get something that tastes like toothpaste.
Miles: Shamrocks are good luck, but I think the woman who rang us up took it too far when she said, "You're gonna need it."