Originally published on Sun August 18, 2013 4:12 pm
Go to your nearest paperback rack, and odds are, you'll see two or three, or four, or — well, a lot of books by Debbie Macomber, an author The Sacramento Bee has dubbed "the reigning queen of women's fiction."
Macomber has 170 million books in print; the newest, Rose Harbor in Bloom, has just been released. Her publisher, Random House, celebrated Macomber's selling power earlier this month with a fan retreat at the Gaylord Opryland resort in Nashville, where 400 women gathered for a weekend of tea, knitting and literary friendship.
Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 7:51 am
Samantha Shannon is being touted as the new J. K. Rowling. She's 21, a fresh graduate of Oxford, where she was a student when she wrote The Bone Season, the first in a projected seven-novel urban fantasy series. She's got a film deal with the new London studio set up by Andy Serkis of Lord of the Rings fame, and she's been courting booksellers, book reviewers, and fantasy fans for more than a year.
It's tricky when a book arrives with such preliminary brouhaha. I've learned to scrub my mind of hype and leave it to the text. The proof is in the reading.
On-air challenge:You're given two words starting with the letter S. For each pair, give a third word — also starting with S — that can follow the first one and precede the second one, in each case to complete a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase.
Last week's challenge: A logic puzzle: "Nieces and nephews have I none, but that man's father is my father's son." What is the gender of the speaker? And who is the speaker referring to?
Answer: Male, the speaker is referring to his own son.
Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 9:48 am
Can there be any experience more kaleidoscopic in its emotions, more full of hopes and fears and just plain confusions, than that of coming to America? I'm no expert, certainly — but my research on immigration for my recent novel, as well as my own family history, points to a process of continual surprises, endless adjustments, and, at times, exhausting isolation. Old habits crash up against new ideas; the desire for a "clean slate" is betrayed by the inevitable baggage of a former life.
Originally published on Sun August 18, 2013 4:20 pm
The raucous comedy Austenland, in theaters this week, pokes fun at Americans' reverence for what they have been taught to see as a gracious British heritage — muslin, bonnets, tea time at the stately home with the blue-bloods, good manners.
As well it might. For most of the English 99-percenters I grew up with, heritage meant feet up in front of the telly, watching Top of the Pops.
Ushio Shinohara is best known for his "boxing paintings" — performance pieces often created for an audience, in which he strikes at his canvases with gloves dipped in pigments — and for his fanciful, brightly colored <a href="http://artasiamerica.org/works/6024/68">sculptures of motorcycles</a> adorned with all manner of extras.
The small-scale intimacy of the documentary <em>Cutie and the Boxer </em>belies the outsize creativity of its Brooklyn-based subjects: the artists Ushio and Noriko Shinohara. He made his name as a bad-boy rebel beginning in the 1950s; she's only recently emerged from his professional shadow.
Noriko Shinohara, known to friends and audiences alike as Cutie, paints sprawling comic-style narratives on the walls of the galleries where she's invited to exhibit. They chronicle the adventures of a couple called Bullie and Cutie, who may or may not be reflections of her and her husband.
Japanese painter and sculptor Ushio Shinohara was the bad boy of the avant-garde when he came to the U.S. more than 50 years ago. He knew Andy Warhol, hung with Red Grooms and polarized audiences with his vivid work.
And Ushio met his wife, Noriko Shinohara, not long after arriving here. She's an artist, too, but she's spent most of her career living in his shadow.
Less so recently, though. Noriko is coming into her own. And now the story of their life together is the subject of an intimate new documentary called Cutie and the Boxer.
Tales of Jesse James's exploits have grown to almost mythological proportions since the actual man and his gang galloped over the plains stealing horses, holding up trains, and robbing banks in the years after the Civil War. Shot All To Hell: Jesse James, The Northfield Raid, and the Wild West's Greatest Escape is a new book about the legendary man.
Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 7:06 am
Elissa Schappell is the author of Blueprints for Building Better Girls.
In the good old, bad old days of book publishing, screaming matches happened in public, not online; the boss' philandering was an open secret never leaked to the press, and authors actually had to turn in their manuscripts in order to get money out of their publisher.
When Dylan Dethier graduated from high school a few years ago, he didn't go on to the local college, join the Army or hitchhike cross-country. He hit golf courses, on a trip across America to play a round of golf in each of the Lower 48 states.
He played the posh course at Pebble Beach, yes; but mostly public courses across the country, including one in hard-hit Flint, Mich., another in North Dakota and one in a corner of Alabama. Over the course of a year he slept with an ax under his car seat, lost his virtue, and looked at America from green to shining green.
An anonymous painter in New York City created dozens of art forgeries, which sold for more than $80 million, according to prosecutors. The man isn't facing charges — but those who helped sell his Abstract Expressionist canvases as the work of artists such as Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell are in trouble.
Performance artist Marina Abramovic's piece Measuring the Magic of Mutual Gaze is both art installation and science experiment, in which volunteers sit facing one another while having their brain waves measured. Abramovic discusses these arts and science experiments with neuroscientist Christof Koch, an expert in consciousness.
Congress has gone home for its annual August recess, so Tell Me More takes a look at headlines in places across the country. Guest host Celeste Headlee talks with Mike Leary from the San Antonio Express-News and Dana Coffield of The Denver Post.
There's no shame in admitting it: Mid-August may be the point in the summer when you throw up your hands when it comes to zucchini. The vegetable is both the joy and bane of gardeners and cooks. Joy because there are so many possibilities — bread, fritters, stuffed blossoms and ratatouille. And bane because the plants never seem to stop growing, producing squash nearly nonstop until you're up to your eyeballs in the green things.
Kate Workman, author of The Mom 100 cookbook and blog, knows that pain.
David Lowery's Ain't Them Bodies Saints begins with what might have been its end.
Ruth (Rooney Mara) and Bob (Casey Affleck) sit in their ramshackle home after a botched robbery. The small-town Texas cops shooting at them have already hit and killed Freddy, the twosome's partner, and Ruth has downed a policeman. They're outnumbered and trapped, and Ruth suggests they run; Bob knows that's suicide.
Keri Russell's Jane Hayes daydreams of the Regency life, complete with suitors as handsome and rough-hewn as Bret McKenzie's Martin, in <em>Austenland, </em>a big-screen adaptation of the Shannon Hale novel.
Credit Giles Keyte / Sony Pictures Classics
Jane Seymour plays Mrs. Wattlesbook, proprietress of the "immersive Austen experience" to which Russell's Jane Hobley repairs in search of romance.
Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 4:45 pm
Austenland, a clunky broadside aimed at the cult of Jane Austen, is worth seeing primarily for its end credits, a mix of pop oil and water so joyfully dippy it might have produced a stifled giggle even in Herself.
Forest Whitaker turns in a reserved performance as Cecil Gaines, butler to eight U.S. presidents, including Robin Williams' Dwight D. Eisenhower, in a Lee Daniels drama based on the true story of a White House veteran.
Credit Anne Marie Fox / The Weinstein Co.
Ashton Kutcher and Josh Gad stand in for Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in Joshua Michael Stern's biographical drama <em>Jobs,</em> which covers the tech visionary's early career but stops short of his latter-day triumphs.
Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 4:59 pm
In their approaches to history, Joshua Michael Stern's Jobs and Lee Daniels' The Butler could hardly be less similar. The former is an example of Victorian-style great-man biography, updated for the iThings era. The latter observes monumental events, mostly involving the civil rights movement, from an Everyman's perspective.
What happens in our brains while we're asleep? That's one question neuroscientist Penelope Lewis is trying to answer. She directs the Sleep and Memory Lab at the University of Manchester in England. Her new book is The Secret World of Sleep: The Surprising Science of the Mind at Rest.
Lewis joins Fresh Air's Terry Gross to talk about how sleep affects memory, and how REM sleep can affect depression.
In the world of book publishing, ravaged though it may be, the name Farrar, Straus & Giroux still bespeaks literary quality. It's a publishing house that boasts a roll call of 25 Nobel Prize winners and heavyweights like Susan Sontag, Carlos Fuentes, Joan Didion, Philip Roth and Jonathan Franzen. A lot of writers, past and present, have turned down higher advances for their books from other publishing houses for the honor of being an FSG author.
Part of our summer reading series Island Reads, highlighting authors from the Caribbean
Andrea Stuart was curious about her family's history in Barbados. And through years of careful research, she found that her bloodline includes both slave owners and slaves. She has written about her own family, as well as a detailed history of slavery in the Caribbean, in her book Sugar in the Blood. Guest host Celeste Headlee talks with Stuart about her family history, the moral complexity of slavery and finding roots in the past.
Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 12:25 pm
A few years ago, Julie Elman, an associate professor at Ohio University, was stuck in a creative rut. As a design educator and illustrator, most of her work was done on the computer. She wanted to begin a tangible project — remember those? — but didn't really know where to start.
Then she realized there was one emotion she was strangely preoccupied with: fear. "I thought fears would go away as we get older," she remembers thinking. "I'm in my 50s. Why do I still have fears?"