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I saw Practical Magic the film when I was 14, a little while before I read Practical Magic the book. I loved both, talked passionately about how very different they were from each other, how glad I was that I'd seen the film first so as to appreciate it on its own terms. The film gave me women loving and fighting with and for each other, in a house and garden (and kitchen) to spend the rest of my life lusting after; the book gave me poetry, the names of flowers, and generations of Owens sisters.

It's a commonplace these days to say that real life has become so unpredictable that it outstrips anything anyone could dream up in fiction. I think I'm guilty of having made that banal observation a few times.

But that was before I read The Obama Inheritance, a collection of 15 stories so sly, fresh and Bizarro World witty, they reaffirm the resiliency of the artistic imagination.

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Rupi Kaur has been called the "pop star of poetry." She's 24; she emigrated from India to Canada when she was 4. And she's famous for the raw, minimalist poems she posts on Instagram for her 1.6 million followers.

One of the most influential figures in hip-hop will now take a lead role in one of the nation's most prestigious cultural institutions.

Q-Tip, along with Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White, formed A Tribe Called Quest in the early '90s. The hip-hop collective introduced smooth beats and sharp social commentary inspired by the group's friendship and the issues of the time.

Last year, the group released what would turn out to be its final album, We Got It from Here ... Thank You 4 Your Service, after the death of Phife Dawg.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

If you went to the post office this past week, you might have noticed something new - a forever stamp collection featuring illustrations from the children's book "The Snowy Day" by Ezra Jack Keats.

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If you're into Disney trivia, you might know that Walt Disney's idea for a new theme park in Orlando, Fla., was initially called The Florida Project. That's also the name of a new film set in a world that seems very far away from the magical kingdom: a budget motel where families live teetering on the edge of homelessness.

"What's worse, writing a trope or being one?" the narrator of Carmen Maria Machado's story "The Resident," asks. She is at an artists' colony, and one of the other residents — a "poet-composer" named Lydia — has snidely announced that the narrator's autobiographical writing plays into the madwoman in the attic stereotype, not to mention the crazy lesbian stereotype. "It's sort of tiresome and regressive and, well, done," says Lydia.

Later, the narrator, whose initials are also CM, carves the words "Madwoman in her own attic" into the wood of her writing cabin.

Two witchy sisters, a family curse on love and lots of potions and hexes: author Alice Hoffman is returning to the story of the Owens family.

She introduced the fictional family in the 1995 novel Practical Magic, which was turned into a film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. Now, in The Rules Of Magic, we go backward in time to learn the histories of the aunts in that saga.

'Taste Of Empire' Shows Us The World In Our Kitchen Cupboards

Oct 8, 2017

"To be a Victorian Englishman was to possess the power to eat the world."

One afternoon in 1748, the Latham family sat down to dinner. They ran a small farm in Lancashire, and their menu was satisfying — beef and vegetable stew, beer, doughy fruit pudding. They grew wheat and barley to make bread, their cows supplied them with milk and cheese, and from their crops (and the women's cotton textile work) they made enough profit to buy beef.

As the legend goes, Andy Richter met a guy at a party who was producing a late-night show starring then-unknown Conan O'Brien. The two men seemed to get along really well, so why not put Richter on set as a sidekick? And thus he became the Ed McMahon of a generation too young to know who Ed McMahon is.

Since he's worked with Conan O'Brien for decades, we gave him a game about Conan The Destroyer – 1984's less-successful sequel to the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle Conan The Barbarian.

Click the audio link above to see how he does.

You're Going To Hate 'TheMystery.doc,' And That's OK

Oct 7, 2017

In the press materials for Matthew McIntosh's new 1,660-page brick of a very literary novel, TheMystery.doc, the publisher says not to be fooled by the book's length. Sure, it weighs 4 1/2 pounds, but they cheerfully insist that "it reads as quickly as a novel of a more conventional length."

On Feb. 6, 1967, Muhammad Ali stepped into a boxing ring in the Houston Astrodome to take on then-heavyweight champion Ernie Terrell. Ali was nursing a serious grudge against Terrell, who kept referring to his upcoming opponent as "Cassius Clay," the birth name that Ali had abandoned years before. In the eighth round, after battering Terrell with a series of hard punches, Ali started taunting the fighter: "What's my name?" he shouted, over and over again. "What's my name?"

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

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

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

You had to wonder how director Sean Baker would follow up his shot-on-an-iPhone, transgender-prostitute comedy Tangerine if he ever got a hold of enough cash to pay for a star and a Steadicam. His extraordinary, almost-homeless-family dramedy, The Florida Project, provides the exhilarating answer.

Rivers Solomon's An Unkindness of Ghosts is the kind of novel I need to describe in terms of what it did to me. Reading it, I felt it carving out a vastness inside me, pouring itself into me like so many stars, and the more I read the bigger I felt, falling down a rabbit-hole of sky and wanting only to go deeper and farther with every page.

Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein is taking a leave of absence from his company following a New York Times story that he sexually harassed female assistants, executives and actresses for decades. The Times report also says Weinstein settled complaints with at least eight women.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

In 2011, Jennifer Egan won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, A Visit From The Goon Squad. Years before that book came out, Egan had begun researching the 1930s and '40s in New York City. Her new novel, Manhattan Beach, is the result of that research. It follows a father, his daughter and a gangster whose lives intersect in New York around World War II.

Una, an intelligently talky, properly claustrophobic chamber piece directed by Benedict Andrews and adapted by Scottish playwright David Harrower from his 2005 stage play Blackbird, revisits a middle-aged man's past sexual abuse of a precocious adolescent when the victim confronts him many years later. In form and subject, if not in tone, the film recalls David Mamet's 1994 Oleanna, a stridently partisan polemic adapted from Mamet's play about a college professor's alleged sexual assault of a female graduate student.

What a joy it is to have a movie like this in our broken lives right now. Faces Places is the latest celebration of the creative spirit from Agnès Varda, who made her first film in 1954 and is now 89, with no signs of slowing down. Why should she? Films give her vitality, and she returns the favor to the medium.

Director Hany Abu-Assad's film, which stars Kate Winslet, Idris Elba and a cute dog, is prettily shot but blandly predictable.

The Sundance-winning documentary Dina is a tale of two movies, sometimes at odds with each other: One is a quirky indie rom-com about two people on the autism spectrum who are getting ready to tie the knot. The other is an unvarnished verité about the difficulties they have with sexual intimacy. Directors Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles structure and frame the film so carefully that it almost seems like the staging of a script, rather than real life unfolding before the camera.

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

King Lear, done right, verges on unbearable. A portrait of cruelty, betrayal, male power become impotent male rage, the disintegration of the mind, all delivered one after another like steel boots to the spine. "As flies to wanton boys are we to th' gods: They kill us for their sport," says one character.

So unbearable did audiences find it that for nearly 200 years it was performed with an altered ending, where Lear and his daughter live happily ever after.

By now, fans of Jennifer Egan's writing know not to expect straightforward narratives. Her individual short stories often play with form — like "Black Box," constructed from tweet-length field instructions, or "Great Rock and Roll Pauses," told via PowerPoint slides.

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