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Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

In 1921, an ad in The Seattle Times touted a brand new candy called "Aplets," a new confection made "from the finest Washington apples and honey and walnuts." A few years later, Aplets were joined by "Cotlets," a similar candy made from an apricot base. In most of the world, "Aplets & Cotlets" were based on a treat called lokum, a word derived from Arabic, but the British and Americans know it as "Turkish delight."

Is any story more appealing than the paradise disrupted? Read enough campus novels, and you'll think colleges are little idylls rife with tennis sweaters and conspiracy. Green quadrangles, caps and gowns, dim libraries, "a group of red-cheeked girls playing soccer, ponytails flying ... trees creaking with apples ... ivied brick, white spire ..." That's Donna Tartt's The Secret History, the New England campus novel par excellence, fat with exclusion and glamour and wealth and Plato and erudite murder.

I'll be honest; at first, I feared the whole series was a bit of a dodge.

Watching the first episode of Shots Fired — Fox's highly anticipated limited series about a federal investigation into a police shooting in a small North Carolina town — one thing became clear rather quickly.

The shooting, which draws two hotshot investigators from the Department of Justice, involves the town's only black police officer, who kills an unarmed, white 19-year-old.

How are a family mass-murder in 1983, a string of serial killings in 2014, and a present-day crack house connected? One answer in Dan Chaon's disturbing, amazing, masterful new novel, Ill Will by a prison psychiatrist to the novel's protagonist, Dustin Tillman: "When you've been abused in the way you were, you have a virus. And the virus will demand that you pass it on to someone else. You don't even have that much of a choice."

A few days ago, one of my students asked me what I was reading, so I told her about Jean Hanff Korelitz's new novel, called The Devil and Webster. My student's eyes got wider as I finished lightly summarizing the plot, and she said, with some concern about Korelitz: "I hope she's ready for all the angry tweets and emails."

Yeah, I think she probably is.

Critics who write about Zora Neale Hurston always seem to write about her contradictions — and no wonder. The extremes she embodied were manifest in her history, her lifestyle, her work and even her legacy. Born in 1891 — though she habitually subtracted years from her age — she grew up in tiny Eatonville, Fla., receiving no encouragement to develop intellectual pursuits. Yet she became a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance, publishing seven books and dozens of articles, short stories, essays and plays.

The German city of Trier has never been particularly fond of its most famous son, Karl Marx, who helped turn communism into an ideology that changed the course of history.

Conservative and Catholic, the picturesque city on the French border took an ambivalent view of the radical revolutionary, born into a Jewish family in 1818.

Designers are rolling out their spring lines and the runways are looking more diverse than ever. But the comparative abundance of models who are people of color didn't happen overnight.

There was the occasional — very occasional — model who wasn't white in the 50s and early 60s on runways. But African-American models put American couture on the map in 1973 when they walked the runway in France in what's become known as The Battle of Versailles.

The biopic Selena tells the story of Mexican-American pop star Selena Quintanilla Perez, a Tejano music singer who made a rare crossover to mainstream American audiences. The movie debuted 20 years ago Tuesday, two years after the singer was killed by the former president of her fan club.

Coming up in the New York City stand-up scene, Pete Holmes was something of an anomaly, working clean alongside other comics whose jokes were raunchy or sexually explicit. Holmes, who grew up a devout Christian, tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he saw himself as the "Good Boy" in the early days of his career.

"I was trying to do the comedy that I thought my parents wanted me to do," Holmes says. "I was basically picturing [Jesus] in the back of the club, and if I could go up and not say the F-word I thought he would love me more."

If you saw any people leaping over fires, grilling fragrant kebabs or holding elaborate picnics this weekend, you may have witnessed celebrations of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, which marks the start of spring across large parts of the Middle East and Central Asia.

The six-episode podcast Missing Richard Simmons dropped its final episode on Monday, two days ahead of schedule. For a project nominally devoted to finding out more about what happened to onetime fitness guru Richard Simmons, it wasn't very satisfying by that standard. Host Dan Taberski concluded, in effect, that Richard Simmons was safe and physically healthy and had withdrawn voluntarily from public life without much fanfare, which is ... pretty much what we already knew. That's what Simmons had said in a call to Today that Taberski played again and again.

When Nell Stevens, then a newly minted MFA, was offered the possibility of a three-month grant to go anywhere in the world to write, she pounced. Eager to avoid distractions and desperate to find something to write about, the 27-year-old Brit chose the weather-lashed, aptly named Bleaker Island, in the Falklands. "I do not want to have a nice time," she explains. "What I want — what I need — is to have the kind of time that I can convert into a book."

It sounds unbelievable to a lot of us, but for some people, their early 20s are the age when things start to come together. They graduate college, find a fulfilling job, marry their sweetheart and start a family.

The last time I talked with Paul Watson, I reached him aboard a Canadian Coast Guard Icebreaker in the Arctic, via satellite phone.

"The captain was glaring at me because we talked for a long time," Watson remembers with a laugh.

That was three years ago, and Watson, a columnist for The Toronto Star, was alongside archaeologists who had just located one of two sunken ships lost in the Franklin Expedition, back in the 1840s.

Robert Silvers, whose long career as an editor included terms at The Paris Review, Harper's and, most notably, as co-founder of The New York Review of Books, died Monday at his home in Manhattan. He was 87.

Silvers launched The New York Review of Books in 1963 with Barbara Epstein, intending to raise the standard of book reviewing. In its pages, a given book under consideration could be little more than a jumping-off point for an extended essay that directly engaged the political and cultural moment.

Comedian Iliza Shlesinger has a lot to say about what it's like to be a lady these days — and what things could have been like in the past.

"Do you think for a second, that if women were physically stronger than men, we would have waited for the right to vote?" she asks in her latest Netflix special, Confirmed Kills. She goes on to imagine a "jacked up housewife" in 1910, with a "shaker of horse testosterone and creatine," shoving her husband out of the way because "mama's going to the polls."

As the father of two sons with schizophrenia, author Ron Powers is familiar with the pain and frustration of dealing with a chronic, incurable disease of the brain.

Powers' younger son, Kevin, was a talented musician whose struggles with schizophrenia began at age 17. Just before his 21st birthday, in 2005, Kevin took his own life.

A few years later, Powers' older son, Dean, started experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia and had a psychotic break.

On a bitterly cold day in February 1846, the French writer Victor Hugo was on his way to work when he saw something that affected him profoundly.

A thin young man with a loaf of bread under his arm was being led away by police. Bystanders said he was being arrested for stealing the loaf. He was dressed in mud-spattered clothes, his bare feet thrust into clogs, his ankles wrapped in bloodied rags in lieu of stockings.

"It made me think," wrote Hugo. "The man was no longer a man in my eyes but the specter of la misère, of poverty."

For the first time in a decade, the classic children's television show Sesame Street will introduce a new Muppet on the air.

I love reading books in translation. There's just something about that second pass — that second look at the language — which removes, by my rough estimate, something like 10% of any writer's preciousness (I've never known one who couldn't spare that much, at least) and gives every line such a chewy, lived-in feel. The motion of the words themselves, from one tongue to another — from one brain to another, one mouth to another — alters them fundamentally.

In '2140,' New York May Be Underwater, But It's Still Home

Mar 19, 2017

Early in New York 2140, two boys jump into their inflatable boat to begin the day's business, scavenging through the canals of a half-drowned New York. Since the weight of the engine threatens to sink the stern, the older boy sits up front to balance it out.

Ashamed, Confused And In The Closet

Mar 18, 2017

Dear Sugar Radio is a weekly podcast from member station WBUR. Hosts Steve Almond and Cheryl Strayed offer "radical empathy" and advice on everything from relationships and parenthood to dealing with drug problems or anxiety.

Today the Sugars hear from a man who is married to a woman and thinks he's gay. He says his marriage to his wife is fulfilling in every way except for their sex life. Now he doesn't know what to do. What should his next step be?

For more than 40 years, Paul Shaffer has been providing the soundtrack for late night TV. He was on the first generation of Saturday Night Live and appeared for 30 years with David Letterman. He was the band leader who could play any song and would laugh at any joke. He's just released an album called Paul Shaffer & The World's Most Dangerous Band.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Jo Lampert is leading a new rock opera based on Joan of Arc. It's written by David Byrne of Talking Heads. It is Jo Lampert's biggest role yet. And as NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports, she seems born to play the part.

The St. Patrick's parade is over and the Irish (and honorary Irish) have gone home to sleep off their annual bout of intemperance, but the multi-generational marchers of the Italian-American St. Joseph Society in New Orleans are only just dusting off their tuxedos and straightening their bow ties. Once the shamrocks and shenanigans have vanished from the narrow streets of the French Quarter, and the keg of green beer is empty, another parade — in honor of an entirely different saint — is beginning to gear up.

Elif Batuman is on record as disliking "crisp" fiction, fiction that streamlines, that asks to be compared to apples, or whips. "Write long novels, pointless novels," she urges in an essay for n+1. And she has. The Idiot is a long wander, a vague rummage, "as simultaneously absorbing and off-putting as someone else's incredibly long dream," as her narrator, Selin, says of Bleak House.

If you've been out of loop on the American contemporary art scene, the Whitney Biennial is here to catch you up. This year's show opened Friday, and features 63 different artists and many new works that have never been shown before. Some artists are responding to the most pressing issues of our time, while others are tackling mammoth projects on a tight deadline. Photographer An-My Lê and artist Raúl de Nieves represent the range of this year's contributors.

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