The first thing you should know: This is not a book about cheese. I mean, it is — and a famous, award-winning cheese at that, a Spanish sheep's milk cheese called the Páramo de Guzmán that cost $22 per pound in 1991. A cheese so good, the king of Spain himself couldn't get enough of it.
But this book is far more about its makers — the cheesemaker himself, an enormous and enormously charming Castilian named Ambrosio, and the book's maker, journalist and author Michael Paterniti, who basically falls in love with Ambrosio at first sight.
Actress Najla Said is a Palestinian-Lebanese-American Christian, but growing up in New York City, her identity was anything but clearly defined.
The daughter of prominent literary critic Edward Said, she spent her childhood in one of the most influential intellectual households in America. Edward Said, who died in 2003, was a renowned professor at Columbia University and was critical to defining Palestinian independence.
The Olympic motto - Faster, Higher, Stronger - has always applied to an ideal: a young, supremely fit athlete, performing wondrous tasks. The motto means something different for athletes over 50. Thousands of them are in Cleveland for the National Senior Games. These games may be lacking in youth and buff physiques, but NPR's Tom Goldman reports the event still has great significance for those are competing and watching.
Cities sitting nervously on the edge of wars have a tendency to change very quickly. Take Pakistan's capital, for example. But some things never change, like an unexpectedly delicious Chinese restaurant.
Wallace Shawn is famous for his career as an actor, but over the past four decades he has written a handful of plays that are intellectually demanding and rarely produced. His characters tell stories in monologues, rather than acting them out onstage, and they use cascades of words to make dizzying arguments.
His work is being showcased at New York's Public Theater this season. A revival of The Designated Mourner opened July 21 and the American premier of another Shawn play, Grasses of a Thousand Colors, will open this fall.
Verlyn Klinkenborg's essays about life on his farm in upstate New York have run in The New York Times since 1997. With a long family history of farming, his agricultural roots run deep into the soil.
"All of my aunts and uncles farmed; all of my cousins still farm," he says. "The home farm where my dad was raised has been in my family since the early teens, and ... following the track of modern agriculture, has changed its character hugely over time. But it's still in the family."
Originally published on Thu August 1, 2013 10:11 am
Anthony Marra is the author of A Constellation Of Vital Phenomena.
Ditie, the narrator of Bohumil Hrabal's transcendent novel, I Served the King of England, is described in the jacket copy as "a hugely ambitious but simple waiter in a deluxe Prague hotel." I first crossed paths with him when I, myself, was working as a night porter in a deluxe Edinburgh hotel.
Artist Faith Ringgold is best known for what she calls her story quilts — large canvases made in the 1980s, on which she painted scenes of African-American life: sunbathing on a tar roof, a mother and her children, a quilting bee. She frames the canvases in strips of quilted fabric, carrying out an old African, and African-American quilt-making tradition.
The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington is showing an earlier aspect of Ringgold's art: big, strong, vivid paintings from the 1960s that reflect the violence and social upheaval of that time.
On-air challenge: This puzzle is supersonic. Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name that has the consecutive letters S-S-T. Specifically, the first word will end in S-S, and the second word will start with T. For example, given, "A situation in which people speak on top of each other," you would say, "cross talk."
During the 19th century, a panopticon was a prison or asylum with an all-seeing eye. Some of the C-shaped prisons with central watchtowers still stand in the U.S. and Europe.
Jenni Fagan's new book borrows the panopticon idea as the setting for a gritty, often poetic, novel. The story is based loosely on Fagan's own experience growing up in the Scottish foster care system for 16 years.
It's summertime, and on weekend nights all across the country, that means demolition derby time - cars bashing cars for the pure thrill of it. Charles Lane from member station WSHU recently went to a demo on New York's Long Island, the legendary home of the demolition derby. He brought back this audio postcard.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Fire it up (unintelligible).
CHARLES LANE, BYLINE: A white four-door Chevy Impala. It's got graffiti writing down the side that says Misery Machine, and it's number 86.
From the TED Radio Hour, polar explorer Ben Saunders on what pushes adventurers like him to brink of human endurance. In 2004, Saunders became the third man — and the most recent — to ski solo to the North Pole.
Here's a great piece of travel writing, storytelling, mythmaking and hero worship — all rolled into one book with a near record-breakingly long title. It's by magazine writer Michael Paterniti of GQ, and it's called The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese.
What if the X-Men were real? And what if they weren't mutants in spandex, but people like you and me and Bob in accounting, just endowed with superhuman talents for things like pattern recognition, programming and strategy?
Francia Russell hasn't performed in 50 years, but she says as soon as she hears the music for George Balanchine's Concerto Barocco, her body starts to move: "I could do it in my sleep, you know, get up and sleepwalk and do it."
Almost any kind of comeback gets New Orleans excited, since the city lost so much in the flood after Hurricane Katrina. That goes especially for food.
One year ago Saturday, New Orleans lost a beloved brand when Hubig's pie bakery burned to the ground. The hand-held, fruit-filled crescents, fried golden-brown, had been delivered fresh to more than 1,000 local stores each morning.
Pie fans have come out in droves to support the company. But it takes more than T-shirts and fond memories to restart a business from scratch.
Comedian and actor Jim Gaffigan lives happily with his wife and his five young children in a two-bedroom apartment in lower Manhattan. You read that right: Five kids. Two parents. Two bedrooms. His latest book, Dad Is Fat, reflects on the challenges and triumphs of raising a big family in a small space.
We've invited Gaffigan to answer three questions about the health habits of Gwyneth Paltrow.
"Genocide in Indonesia." Those words probably don't make you want to rush out to see a new movie.
But what if we add these: Genocide in Indonesia, with gangsters, cowboys, dancing girls, men in drag and splashy musical numbers. They're all part of the year's strangest documentary, The Act of Killing.
John Oliver has brought oracular authority to a three-month fill-in stint on Comedy Central this summer. With Jon Stewart off directing a film, the anchor chair at The Daily Show has been occupied by the show's senior British correspondent, John Oliver, whose own stand-up show on Comedy Central is just beginning its fourth season.
We recorded this week's episode during the brief interregnum between the end of Glen Weldon's trip to the San Diego Comic Con and the beginning of Linda Holmes' two weeks at the Television Critics Association press tour in Los Angeles. So it seemed a perfect time to mine the two events for inspiration.
Nobody throws away a mason jar on Prince of Wales Island. On this rugged mass of mountain, forest, river and sea in southeast Alaska, most of the several thousand year-round residents subsist at least partially off the generous fat of the land. And much of the bounty is pressure cooked, preserved and stored away for the future.
"If it stops crawling long enough, we'll put it in a jar," says Jon Rowan, a schoolteacher in the town of Klawock, on the island's west side.
The well-being of kids in America may be tied to their race and the immigrant status of their parents. Donald Hernandez talks about the Foundation for Child Development's new report with guest host Celeste Headlee.