I'm surrounded here at NPR Books by people with sophisticated, grown-up tastes — happy to dive into the latest Claire Messud or Daniel Alarcon or James Salter. Meanwhile, give me — any day — a book about teenagers (and preferably dragons). A good YA novel is a polished gem of solid storytelling, but more than that, it draws us back in time to the teenagers we once were — or never were, or wanted desperately to be.
There have been several incidents, even fights, during recent New York theater performances. An argument over a woman nosily unwrapping her Twizzlers, a man throwing a Web-browsing woman's cell phone across the theater. What is going on? Are audiences less well mannered today?
We sent NPR's Margot Adler to find out.
MARGOT ADLER, BYLINE: I'm standing around the TKTS line on Broadway, where tourists and New Yorkers line up for lower priced tickets. Are audiences increasingly boorish?
Longtime readers know that one of my favorite pop-culture blogs ever invented is Smart Bitches Trashy Books, which offers a home for romance readers (who are legion) to both love their books and laugh at their books.
Summer means wedding season, and for many couples, photographing the groom lifting the bride, or the bride looking off wistfully into the distance is an essential. But what if the happy couple is a bride and a bride, or a groom and a groom?
No, you aren't imagining it: There is indeed less leg room on some airplanes than there used to be.
"Back in the old days, probably 20 years ago, the tendency was to have about 34 inches," says Mark Gerchick, a former chief counsel for the Federal Aviation Administration. "Now the standard is about 31 inches in the United States. ... Some of the low-cost airlines have tightened that up to about 28 inches, which is now approaching the limits of anatomical possibility."
If you've ever looked through a wedding album, you've seen photos of the groom removing his bride's garter or dipping her on the dance floor. But those poses could be awkward or even offensive for same-sex couples. A new book Capturing Love could help avoid problems. Host Michel Martin learns tips from co-authors Kathryn Hamm and Thea Dodds.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Here in the U.S., June is known as gay and lesbian pride month, recognizing the contributions and concerns of LGBT people in this country. Later, we'll talk with two people on the cutting edge of what's become one of the markers of LGBT progress. They are the authors of a new book about how to photograph same-sex weddings. There are some interesting similarities and differences that might surprise you.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. R&B singer Chrisette Michele burst on to the scene in 2007 with her first album, "I Am." Her melodic and unique voice caught a lot of ears and earned her a Grammy for the single, "Be Okay."
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 09: Host Neil Patrick Harris and casts of Broadway shows perform onstage at The 67th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 9, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)
Unless you've seen every awards show since the dawn of time (which would make you The Unluckiest Person In The World), you can't really answer the question of whether last night's opener of the Tony Awards, hosted for the fourth time by Neil Patrick Harris, was the best opening ever.
"You've got spunk," Lou Grant says to Mary Richards on the very first episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. And then he adds, famously, "I hate spunk." The year is 1970, the same year in which Jeannette Walls set her new novel, The Silver Star. In the book, someone tells the 12-year-old narrator, Bean Holladay, that she's got spunk too. Maybe it's no coincidence. 1970, after all, was situated squarely in the middle of second-wave feminism. It was an era when women and girls were asserting themselves and finding their voices, which weren't always met with approval.
My summer reading preferences are so particular they have, at times, stopped me from reading at all. I need a romance for a train trip — for obvious reasons. When it's hot, I prefer something with no climate congruence at all; I've never enjoyed Anna Karenina so much as I did on the beach (that romance is a train exception — er ... for obvious reasons). When I'm on a plane trip, I like a passel of good young-adult novels, filled with cliffhangers, reversals and quick emotion. It's a mood makeover in flight.
If you walked into New York's Morgen's Restaurant in the 1950s, you'd be greeted at the door by a perfectly dressed and powdered blonde who'd smilingly show you to your table and hand over a menu. That hostess, Audrey Elaine Morgen Volk, is at the center of her daughter Patricia Volk's new memoir, Shocked: My Mother, Schiaparelli, And Me. In it, Volk describes how two vivid women helped her move into adulthood: One was the iconoclastic Italian fashion designer Elsa Luisa Maria Schiaparelli; the other was her mother, a loving, difficult and icy stunner.
At the Reborn Convention at the Creektown Holiday Inn, the women mill and mingle, fawn over mohair follicles, blue-blotched underpainting, voice-boxes uploaded with found sound. Distant crying. Summer afternoon nap meltdowns.
I'm the only man, and I sense their suspicion. I feel lost. I eat a tasteless finger sandwich. I touch a doll with the back of my hand. A pamphlet explains: Real Baby Heater Systems.
The search is over for the winner of Round 11 of Three-Minute Fiction, the contest where listeners submit original short stories that can be read in about three minutes.
We received help this round from graduate students at 16 different writing programs across the country. They poured through thousands of submissions and passed the best of the best along to our judge this round, novelist Karen Russell.
Here was your challenge for this round: A character finds something he or she has no intention of returning.
Beloved veteran Cicely Tyson has a solid shot at the best actress award at Sunday night's ceremony; her performance in Horton Foote's The Trip to Bountiful has drawn critical praise and audience applause.
Credit Michael Brosilow /
Tracy Letts (left) and Amy Morton (being restrained by Madison Dirks as Carrie Coon looks on) played the perennially sparring partners George and Martha in this season's wildly acclaimed Broadway revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Reporter Jeff Lunden says the show is likely to take home one of the top Tony Awards when the annual theater prizes are handed out Sunday night.
Originally published on Mon June 10, 2013 10:03 am
This spring, more than in any recent year, the 2012-2013 Broadway season accelerated toward its conclusion: Nineteen productions opened between the beginning of March and April 25, the cut-off date for Tony eligibility. And many of those shows raised their curtains in the final two weeks of the season.
There was considerable mouth-dropping from publications such as The New York Times at initial reports this week that NSA programs are gathering both telephone records and information gleaned from large tech companies like Google and Microsoft. But as those reports have settled in, reactions have gotten more complex.
Originally published on Mon June 10, 2013 10:46 am
How do I like my summer noir? Hard-boiled, with brooding investigators, sharp wits, danger, crazy fights, bullets, chases and loves lost, unrequited, or dripping with passion. Or perhaps tempered by darkness in a cold, post-revolutionary world filled with intrigue, conspiracy and a resistance hanging in the balance. Even better, it should be part of a series, making it both binge-worthy and binge-able. And if it turns out it's a graphic novel featuring anthropomorphic characters? Best of all.
The stories of One Thousand and One Nights are among the world's most famous works of literature. They start with a king who discovers that his wife is having an affair. In a fit of rage, he has her executed. Lebanese author Hanan al-Shaykh explains what happens next:
"From that night, he decreed a law that he will marry a virgin every single day and deflower her at night, and then kill her at dawn," al-Shaykh tells NPR's Rachel Martin.
The killing continues until Scheherazade, the daughter of the king's vizier, offers herself as the king's bride.
On-air challenge: Categories are given based on the name "Homer," the name of a town in Alaska. Name something in the category beginning with each of the letters H-O-M-E-R. For example, if the category were "Chemical Elements," you might say Helium, Oxygen, Magnesium, Einsteinium, and Radon. You can give the answers in any order.
The love of his life had been married for five years before he met her, and dead for five days before he'd found out. Clandestine lovers weren't notified in the event of a tragedy. The police and medical examiners had waited days before releasing the names of those killed in the concert fire to the public.
The paper had published profiles of the victims, and that's where, halfway through his usual breakfast of a slice of toast and a banana, the news had found him.
NPR's Bob Mondello reads an excerpt of one of the best submissions for Round 11 of our short story contest. He reads Beyond the Fence by Matthew Campbell of Salem, Mass. You can read the full story below and find other stories on our Three-Minute Fiction page or on Facebook.
Over the last 15 years, the South African writer Lauren Beukes has been a journalist, a screenwriter, a documentarian — and most recently, a novelist. Her newest book is called The Shining Girls, a summer thriller about a time-traveling serial killer and the victim who escapes to hunt him down.
Comedian George Carlin liked to say that art doesn't have a finish line. The trio behind Ghost Brothers of Darkland County are the embodiment of that idea. Each is a superstar in his chosen field: rock music legend, best-selling novelist, record producer — trades they could have been content to pursue to the grave. Instead, they went and wrote a musical together, 13 years in the making.
The man was so beautiful. He appeared to be stepping out of the ad on the side of the bus, his hair illuminated in sun. Amelia saw the little slip of paper burst from his pocket when he pulled out his keys. It flipped in the air once, twice before it caught against the cement stairs right in front of her. She quickly shut her mailbox with the very tiny key that made her feel oversized and fumbling.
In June 2012, Nik Wallenda — of the great Wallenda Family circus dynasty — walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. On June 23, he plans to cross the Grand Canyon the same way. Wallenda has also recently written a memoir called Balance: Christian Faith and Miraculous Results.