There's a difference between ruminating and rambling, and Roger Rosenblatt crosses the line in The Boy Detective, his dilatory, meandering new memoir about his New York boyhood. I was a big fan of Kayak Morning, Rosenblatt's meditation on the tenaciousness of grief published in early 2012, four years after the sudden death of his 38-year-old daughter, a pediatrician and mother of three small children. But his latest, while less melancholic, more playful, and occasionally endearingly quirky, ambles at a pace that makes rush hour traffic down Second Avenue seem speedy.
Roy Choi ushered in a food truck "new wave" in Los Angeles, making street fare edgier, tastier. Five years ago, he and a partner launched Kogi — Korean for meat — with a small fleet of trucks offering up a Korean-Mexican fusion that inspired food entrepreneurs in cities across America where the trend caught fire. His signature creation? The short rib taco: warm tortillas, Korean barbecue beef, cilantro-onion-and lime, topped with a spicy-soy slaw.
Some writers you read and move on, but every now and then you read one whose work knocks you back against the wall. This happened to me with the great Italian novelist Elena Ferrante.
I first encountered her through her scalding 2002 novel, The Days Of Abandonment, whose narrator, Olga, may be the scariest jilted wife since Medea. What makes Olga scary is not what she does, but what she thinks and feels, and her ferocious precision in describing everything from lousy sexual encounters to her not-altogether-maternal feelings about her children.
Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 2:50 pm
Catherine Chung went from mathematics to writing, though she says words were always her first love. She was named one of Granta's New Voices in 2010, and her first novel, Forgotten Country, received honorable mention for a PEN/Hemingway Award last year.
In Forgotten Country, Chung writes of a family with a curse that stretches back generations — from their time in Korea to their life in America. Since the Japanese occupation of Korea, each generation of the family has lost a daughter.
And now we'll continue with this theme of using hip-hop to teach. When legendary lyricist and DJ MC Lyte first appeared on the national scene 1988, she wasn't thinking about education. This is her hit song, "Lyte as a Rock."
Did you know November is National Novel Writing Month?
It isn't by order of Congress, but it is on the internet, where you'll see this combination of letters — NaNoWriMo — all over the place, making absolutely no sense and sounding to the uninitiated like a species of caterpillar or a ship on Star Trek. Amusingly enough, even that is too long for participants trying to pound out a book in a month, so they call it, very often, "NaNo."
When Teddy Roosevelt was president, reporter Lincoln Steffens came to him with a request: "Mr. President," he said, "I want to investigate corruption in the federal government." And Roosevelt responded in a rather astonishing way, as presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin tells NPR's Steve Inskeep.
Sir Terry Pratchett is one of Britain's best-selling authors. His science-fiction series Discworld has sold millions of copies worldwide. Pratchett is incredibly prolific — since his first novel was published in 1971, he has written on average two books every year.
But in 2007, 59-year-old Pratchett announced that he had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. As a result, Pratchett can no longer read.
Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 9:56 am
That Benjamin Palmer dropped $3,500 at Phillips auction house in New York is not surprising. The 217-year-old company, headquartered on Park Avenue, regularly sells artwork for tens — and often hundreds — of thousands of dollars.
What is surprising, however, is that he took nothing home. He has nothing to put up on his wall or put on a pedestal in his living room. Physically, his acquisition lies among a hub of wires, and the likelihood is he will never touch it. But it lives virtually inside every computer, smartphone or tablet in the world.
More than 400,000 Americans died in World War II, but thousands of them were never found. Some died in a prison camp, and others were lost behind enemy lines — and some were on planes that were lost in the vast Pacific ocean.
On Sept. 1, 1944, a massive B-24 bomber carrying a crew of 11 people went down in the South Pacific. Its wreckage remained undiscovered, and the fate of its airmen unknown for decades. Then an American scientist, Dr. Pat Scannon, became obsessed with the mystery of these missing GIs.
In 1980s Arkansas, one concern trumped all others: Satan. He whispered backwards on our rock albums. He possessed otherwise good people's bodies and brought them to sin. His worshippers — it was honestly believed and confidently proclaimed — lived among us.
So when my stepmother opened our town's first bookstore I was amazed by one book in particular: an infernal red and black volume called The Satanic Verses.
Steve Lickteig's life as he knew it was a lie. Lickteig thought he was the adopted son of a former World War II vet and his wife. Life was simple: They ran a farm in Kansas, went to mass at the local Catholic church and raised Steve and their eight biological children.
Lickteig wondered who his real parents were and thought he'd set out to find them someday. Then, when he turned 18, two of his best friends told him the truth: His adopted parents were actually his biological grandparents. The woman who he knew as his older sister was actually his mother.
There's a phrase in French — "L'esprit de l'escalier," meaning "staircase wit" — for that moment when you've lost an argument and are walking away, and waaay too late, think of the perfect comeback. If you could just rewind your life a few minutes, you'd win the argument.
That's pretty much the setup in the new British comedy About Time.
Seventeen years ago, the poet, writer and editor David Lehman resolved to write a poem every day. It sounds a little similar to National Novel Writing Month, which kicked off yesterday — except that Lehman kept it up for five years, publishing many of the daily poems in literary journals and in two well-received collections
Marie Elia likes to describe her job this way: She is the secretary to a dead man. As one of two catalogers for Andy Warhol's Time Capsules, it's her job to go through the 610 boxes he left after his death in 1987.
In one box she found a mysterious, small tin. "I opened it and it was full of fingernail clippings, dead bees and those little holes that come from a hole punch," she says. The fingernail clippings weren't Warhol's. They were sent to him by a fan. "I don't know why. Somebody mailed that to him. Somebody thought that he would like it."
In February 1959, the great illustrator and magazine artist Norman Rockwell was on Edward R. Murrow's celebrity interview show, Person to Person. For decades, Rockwell had painted scenes that told stories of wholesome, G-rated life in small-town America, and Murrow interviewed Rockwell at his home in just such a small town: Stockbridge, Mass.
Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 3:44 pm
Time-travel movies usually have a clear end in sight, some situation that needs fixing. Marty McFly needs his parents to get together; John Connor needs to avoid Terminators long enough to grow up; the guys from Hot Tub Time Machine need to stop messing up the past and get back in their ... hot tub time machine.
Texas good ol' boy Ron Woodroof was a player — drugs, alcohol, women, gambling. As Dallas Buyers Club starts, he's at a rodeo, snorting cocaine, with a fistful of bets, when he gets it on with two prostitutes. Not a "healthy" lifestyle — one that's left him gaunt, weak, coughing.
With the advantage of hindsight, what's ailing him seems obvious now. Back in 1986, it didn't, until doctors did a blood test and told him he had 30 days to live.
I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, the men's pro-basketball season is jumping off this week, and the Barbershop guys will talk about their pics and if anybody has got what it takes to stop the Miami Heat from a three-peat. But first, it's time for Faith Matters. That's the part of the program where we talk about matters of faith and spirituality.
And as you just heard, Nikki Giovanni has inspired many people with her poetry and other writings. So we decided to turn the tables and ask what inspires her. As part of our occasional series In Your Ear, Nikki Giovanni shares the music that moves her.
NIKKI GIOVANNI: Hi, this is Nikki Giovanni. I'm a poet. And I'm listening to Jane Monheit, "Save Your Love For Me."
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Now it's time for our weekly visit to the Barbershop where the guys talk about what's in the news and what's on their minds. Sitting in the chairs for a shape-up this week are writer Jimi Izrael with us from Cleveland. Joining us from Boston, healthcare consultant and contributor to National Review magazine, Dr. Neil Minkoff. Here in our Washington, D.C. studios, Dave Zirin. He is sports editor at The Nation. And Corey Dade is a contributing editor for The Root. Take it away Jimi.