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Arts and culture

If lately you've noticed the farmers' market flooded with signs that say "donut," "cling," "whiteflesh" and "freestone," you won't be surprised to learn that August is National Peach Month. Though the juicy fruits pack the produce aisles now, in a few short months a good peach might be hard to find.

Many fruits, though harvested in other parts of the world, are available in the United States all year long. So why are peaches so seasonal, and in the winter, either difficult to find or hard as a rock?

In a memorable (and much-parodied) 1983 television ad for a brand of instant, decaffeinated coffee, a gravel-voiced announcer asked: "What kind of people drink Sanka? People like Joe Zebrosky, underwater welder." The ad, one of a series featuring manly men in a variety of high-stakes professions, featured the aforementioned Zebrosky intoning: "Too much caffeine makes me tense. And down here, I can't afford that."

New In Paperback Aug. 12-19

Aug 16, 2012

Fiction and nonfiction releases from Sebastian Rotella, Tahmima Anam, Jermaine Jackson and Charles King.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Beyond bratwurst, we generally don't think of German food as summertime food. In fact, many of us don't think about German food much at all. But one delicious German tradition is catching on this barbecue season — schwenker.

It seemed normal enough when President Obama chatted with a coffee shop patron about beer in Iowa Tuesday. The president has shown he's a fan of beer — and it's the most politically expedient, "everyman" beverage a candidate can drink. But then the president told a man at Knoxville, Iowa's Coffee Connection cafe that he travels with his own home-brew — and gave him a bottle to prove it.

As India celebrates the 65th anniversary of its independence, the cultural landscape of the nation is transforming rapidly.

According to Man Booker prize winning author Aravind Adiga, "If you are an Indian of my generation... there really was only one place you wanted to go to make it big and that was Bombay. "

The longing for children is fertile literary ground; from it, authors have brought forth everything from satire to tragedy. In his new novel, Breed, Chase Novak goes for black-comic body horror, liberally splashed with blood. Alex and Leslie Twisden are a rich couple desperate to fill their Upper East Side townhouse with children. After years of failed fertility treatments, they learn from Alex's friend Jim about a mysterious, miracle-working doctor.

This year, some of the biggest names in cartooning offered major releases in genres ranging from alternative science fiction to historical fiction to memoir. Through a masterful blending of words and images, these five titles reveal the vast storytelling possibilities of the graphic-novel medium. Each book is created by a singular writer/artist, and offers a wholly unique point of view in both narrative and illustration.

Few French writers can rival the success of Marie NDiaye, whose acclaim as a novelist and playwright is matched by her massive commercial success. At just 45, she has a quarter-century of best-selling books behind her, and in 2009 she became the first black woman to win the Prix Goncourt, France's top gong for literature, for the passionate and unsettling novel Three Strong Women.

Romance fiction is the Rodney Dangerfield of the publishing world: It don't get no respect.

This, despite the fact that romance is the most consistently profitable genre in an unsettlingly shaky business. Last year, romance alone contributed more than $1 billion to publishing's diminished coffers. And a growing amount of that income comes from romances written by ethnic writers for ethnic readers.

This is the third in a three-part series about major American networks trying to appeal to a broader Latino audience.

Jorge Ramos has a humbling problem.

He is one of the best-known Hispanics in the U.S. and a respected news anchor for the Univision networks on which millions of Americans routinely rely.

And yet, in Ramos' telling, his 14-year-old son, Nicolas, and his 25-year-old daughter, Paola, don't watch his newscasts.

Travel The World Through Portuguese Cooking

Aug 15, 2012

It was day 12 of our trip through Spain and Portugal, and my friend and I were ready for some traditional Portuguese cooking when we arrived in the quaint, cobblestoned city of Lisbon.

Walking along the tiered and winding roads, the Atlantic Ocean horizon would greet us and then disappear again behind the hilltops. Above, clothes hung out to dry along white, curved iron balconies, a rainbow of clips holding the waving pants or undergarments in place.

Actress Julie Delpy first beguiled American audiences in 1995, playing the enigmatic French student in Richard Linklater's film Before Sunrise. Ever since, Delpy has enjoyed life on the Hollywood fringe, preferring indie projects where she can help shape her roles.

She co-wrote the Oscar-nominated script to Linklater's sequel, Before Sunset, and has also begun directing her own projects. For her latest, 2 Days in New York, she directed, produced and helped write the script.

Science journalist Michael Lemonick doesn't want to be a doomsday prophet, but he does want to be realistic about the threat of climate change. "Since I started writing about climate change all the way back in 1987, we've known what the cause is, we've known what the likely outcome is, and we've had time to act — and essentially we haven't acted," he tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies.

They look like vacation photos at first glance. Women in flowery kimonos gossip together in a circle. A boy on ice skates takes his first steps on a crowded rink. Two sumo wrestlers share a chuckle in the ring as a crowd watches on.

But behind the smiles, the same shadowy presence looms in the background: the tar paper barracks that housed the thousands of Japanese-American prisoners of the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming.

People are saying that Mitt Romney's selection of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate creates an opportunity to hold what Ryan likes to call an "adult conversation" about entitlement spending. In the present political climate, it would be heartening to have an adult conversation about anything. But bear in mind that "entitlement" doesn't put all its cards on the table. Like a lot of effective political language, it enables you to slip from one idea to another without ever letting on that you've changed the subject.

Chicago's Dixon School looks more like an African-American art gallery than a public school. In the largely black blue-collar neighborhood of Chatham, a school where art plays a central role in the lives of students is a rarity. Guest host Jacki Lyden talks with director Pamela Sherrod Anderson about her documentary, The Curators of Dixon School.

What happens when a talented, Type A, hyperachieving woman married to an even more successful man quits working? In former television writer Maria Semple's experience — which she's channeled into her first two novels — the mood swings, loss of bearings, and toxic dissatisfaction aren't pretty, though she plays them for laughs.

This is the second in a three-part series about major American networks trying to appeal to a broader Latino audience.

Every morning at 11:45, NBC News officials hold a conference call with their counterparts at sister networks to sort through stories of interest. Among those on the line are executives at CNBC, MSNBC and The Weather Channel; digital news editors; and executives at Telemundo, a Spanish-language broadcast network.

When she was just 5 years old, Vaddey Ratner's comfortable and protected life as the child of an aristocratic Cambodian family came to an abrupt end, as Khmer Rouge soldiers entered the capital, Phnom Penh. They banged on the gates of the family compound and ordered them to leave — it was the start of the Khmer Rouge reign of terror, which left hundreds of thousands of Cambodians dead, including all of Ratner's family except her mother.

NPR producer Sam Sanders headed to Beverly Hills, Calif., recently to see longtime fitness guru Richard Simmons in action and find out how he has been at it so long. He sent this reporter's notebook of his encounter with the man who's been helping people lose weight for nearly 40 years.

I'm sure you've already noticed — from the parades, the fact that your mail hasn't been arriving, and the way everyone gets the week off of work — but this is Shark Week, when the Discovery Channel generates a week of shark-themed programming. (Tonight: Sharkzilla, which is, surprisingly enough, not a SyFy movie, and the Mythbusters shark special.) (Trivia: Did you know the decorative shark that is traditionally displayed on or near Discovery's Silver Spring, Md. headquarters to celebrate this special week is named "Chompy"?

Sandwich Monday: Bacon S'Mores

Aug 13, 2012

A recipe for bacon s'mores has been making its way around the Internet today, prompting many people to wonder how they hadn't thought of it before. It was probably like this when a caveman first figured out the wheel and put something about it on his blog.

Robert: I feel really sorry for the pig who was excited about being invited to a campfire.

Ian: He's like "wait ... you're putting s'me in them?"

Helen Gurley Brown, the longtime editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, died Monday in New York at age 90.

If Cosmo was her biggest legacy, it was her 1962 best-seller, Sex and the Single Girl, that launched her to fame. She was 40, with a high-paying job in advertising and a recent marriage to Hollywood producer David Brown.

But she was writing for the single girls, not her privileged peers, says Jennifer Scanlon, author of a Brown biography called Bad Girls Go Everywhere.

D.W. Gibson is the author of Not Working: People Talk About Losing a Job and Finding Their Way in Today's Changing Economy.

The bright white Heritage Park library opened up a mile from my house when I was 13, and the first thing I checked out was Roald Dahl's story collection Someone Like You. I should have known what I was in for because of that giant eyeball on the cover; but somehow I saw it as more of a temptation than a warning.

We were in London, searching for Hidden Kitchen stories, when we came upon an Eel Pie & Mash shop. It was full of old white marble tables, tile walls, pots of stewed and jellied eels, and piles of pies. These shops are now a dying breed, along with the eels they serve. Our search for the source of these vanishing eels led us to southwest London — to Eel Pie Island, a tiny slice of land with a flamboyant history that stretches from Henry the VIII to the Rolling Stones.

Yesterday morning the comics medium lost one of its greatest creators, and one of its most influential teachers, with the passing of Joe Kubert.

Comics historian Mark Evanier posted a remembrance that highlights how warmly the man was regarded in the comics community — and how astonishgly quickly he worked.

Comic Book Resources has posted 25 of his classic comic covers; go look.

Looking To The 'Stars' For A Reason To Live

Aug 13, 2012

When Peter Heller sat down to work on his first novel, all he knew was that he wanted to have the experience of writing without knowing the ending. As an expedition kayaker, Heller was already the author of many works of travel and outdoor-adventure writing. With his debut novel, The Dog Stars, Heller returned to fiction — his first love. But as the novel took a post-apocalyptic turn, he found himself relying on his real-life scrapes and survival skills.

The fact that NBC's new reality show Stars Earn Stripes is kind of an offensive concept should not distract you from the fact that it's stultifyingly boring as television and badly designed as a reality-competition show.

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