Jerry "Swamp Dogg" Williams, Jr. Charles Hughes quotes the songwriter and performer as saying, "Everything I write and sing comes out country, and that's why I have to take so much time in arrangements and instrumentation, because — if not — I'd just be cutting a bunch of country records with black people. And we <em>know</em> that black people are not makin' it in country."
Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 9:17 am
In a recent book, Hidden in the Mix: The African American Presence in Country Music, editor Diane Pecknold rounds up some of the better music writers in academia in order to put a light on country's many black roots and the country's unease with said roots. It's not perfect, but what's good here makes the collection indispensable.
The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
N.B. — Book News is going on vacation next week. Your faithful correspondent will be in California sans laptop and praying that Jonathan Franzen doesn't choose that week to reignite any feuds with daytime talk show hosts. In the meantime, as always, leave your hot tips, scurrilous attacks and existential questions in the comments section or direct them to @annalisa_quinn on Twitter.
"I was born a colored man and don't you forget it," announces Henry Shackleford in the opening pages of musician and author James McBride's novel, The Good Lord Bird. A manuscript, supposedly discovered after a church fire cleanup, offers the first person account of Henry, a young slave living in the Kansas Territories in 1857, as he becomes involved – reluctantly – with the anti-slavery forces led by John Brown.
Forty years after his death, there's a name that's become practically synonymous with Chinese kung fu films.
And no, it's not Bruce Lee.
It's actually his teacher, Ip Man.
The late kung fu master's life story has inspired more movie releases than Spider-Man. The five films so far include Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster, which opens Friday in New York and Los Angeles.
A group foster home + abused and at-risk kids + tough love + junior staff nearly as troubled as their charges: The potential for cliche is everywhere in Destin Cretton's enormously engaging Short Term 12, and — happily — is everywhere avoided. What might seem on paper a cloyingly sentimental heartwarmer becomes, in Cretton's hands, a briskly believable, often funny, always invigorating and ultimately wrenching story of emotional fortitude.
The difference between a provocative film and a challenging one can be difficult to parse. Yet it's essential to understanding the success and occasional missteps of Ulrich Seidl's Paradise: Faith, the second part in a trilogy that, so far, has excelled at exploring the depths of human misery.
Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 1:07 pm
"She's so pretty, she could be in any movie," a fan gushed after a screening of Joe Swanberg's Drinking Buddies. There's a lot more to Olivia Wilde than her feline loveliness, which, combined with a challenging stare that dares you to dismiss her as fluff, reminds me of a young Michelle Pfeiffer. But not much of that is allowed out to play in this strained comic drama about two young couples struggling to answer universal questions in particular ways.
When Raymond Chandler first set Philip Marlowe walking down the mean streets of L.A., he couldn't have imagined that eventually every city, from ancient Athens to 21st century Bangkok, would have its own detective series. Of course, they're not all equally good.
Martin Freeman (from left), Paddy Considine, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Eddie Marsan star as five old high school friends who reunite to finish an epic pub crawl in <em>The World's End,</em> directed by Edgar Wright.<em> </em>
If you've ever participated in a miserably long pub crawl, you'll understand the plight of the characters in The World's End, the latest from Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright. The film follows five old high school friends who reunite to finish a pub crawl they started 20 years earlier. But as they travel from pub to pub in their old hometown, they find strange, supernatural things start to happen.
Actress Ziyi Zhang is probably best known for her roles in the Oscar-winning films Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Memoirs of a Geisha. Now she co-stars in a new film, The Grandmaster, where she plays a fierce martial artist who stops at nothing to protect her family's legacy. But she says she can "do better than just kicking ass." She can seriously act, too.
Novels are low-tech objects. They can't be plugged in, they've got no buttons or knobs, and they don't make your eyes pop out of your head as you watch creatures or asteroids zigzag across a screen. Usually, novels have no visual aids at all. So if you want to know what Anna Karenina looks like, well, you just have to read the book.
Ben Winters wrote the best-selling <em>Sense And Sensibility And Sea Monsters, </em>as well as <em>Bedbugs,</em> <em>Android Karenina </em>and several books for kids. So far, he's published two books in the <em>Last Policeman </em>series.
No place seems safe these days from someone's terrifying, post-apocalyptic imaginings. Los Angeles is wrecked in the movie Elysium, the South is zombie-ridden in TV's The Walking Dead, and now— thanks to writer Ben Winters — even the quiet streets of Concord are at risk of annihilation.
Colombia. The drug trade. Multiple plane crashes, drive-by shootings, Peace Corps hippies who peddle drugs, and an actual hippo on the loose. Despite all of that, there's actually not much plot to this novel. This is more of a metaphysical detective story where cause and effect can be difficult to pin down — a book where the events that matter most occur inside the characters.
Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 11:45 am
What's a baker to do when all foodies can talk about, on both sides of the Atlantic, is the cronut craze, a croissant-doughnut that NPR reported on earlier this year? Simple: Come up with an equally addictive hybrid dessert.
The new FX series The Bridge begins with the discovery of a body on a bridge that connects El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico. In it, a Mexican detective, played by Mexican actor Demian Bichir, has to work with an El Paso homicide cop to solve what turns out to be a serial murder case.
I'm Celeste Headlee and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. Pulitzer prize-winning playwright August Wilson may be best known for a 10 play series of dramas that explore black life in America, one for each decade of the 20th century. The series includes plays like "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," "The Piano Lesson" and of course, perhaps Wilson's best-known work "Fences."
Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 6:04 pm
The legendary minimalist short story writer Raymond Carver distilled the last decade of his life in his poem "Gravy." "Gravy, these past ten years," he writes. "Alive, sober, working, loving, and being loved by a good woman."
Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 11:06 am
Basil is a mega-celebrity of the herb world and has some of the same problems that come with fame. Known mostly for its starring role in pesto, it's recognized by many people primarily as an ingredient in other Italian dishes such as pastas and caprese salads. But if it were up to basil, it might prefer to be recognized for its work in lesser-known cuisines and recipes (the indie films and off-Broadway plays, if you will), where it shines in a different way and brings a new dimension to food.
Jace helps Clary as she sets about uncovering the truth about her unsuspected heritage as one of the chosen few who defend humans from things supernatural, and also he is pretty and blond and dreamy and distracting.
Credit Rafy / Sony/Screen Gems
Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower) and Clary (Lilly Collins) are Shadowhunters — they are teens, and they are special — in the first of a threatened series of half a dozen films based on Cassandra Clare's <em>Mortal Instruments</em> novels for young adults. Or perhaps, at 2 hours 10 minutes, this is all six films. We may have misunderstood.
Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 11:22 am
It's time for mom and Clary to have the talk.
No, not that talk. Jocelyn (Lena Headey) needs to tell teenage Clary (Lily Collins) about angels and demons, vampires and werewolves, magic chalices and sacred blood — not to mention hidden sanctuaries, interdimensional portals, the identity of her father and the existence of an unknown brother. Plus something nutty about J.S. Bach.
If you find yourself craving New Orleans food, you could go there and melt in the sweltering heat for a dose of gumbo or praline bacon. Or you could settle in on your couch, as I've been doing, and torture yourself watching reruns of the HBO series Treme. It's set in post-Katrina New Orleans and, along with the music, it puts the city's food on center stage.
The writer Elmore Leonard has died. He was 87 years old and had recently suffered a stroke.
For decades, Leonard — working at the very top of his profession as a crime writer — had been widely acclaimed, and universally read. He published 46 novels, which resulted in countless movie and TV adaptations, including the movies Out of Sight and Get Shorty and the TV series Justified.
Today's Internet users have become accustomed to stories of hacking, identity theft and cyberattacks, but there was a time when the freedom and anonymity of the Web were new, and no one was sure what rules — if any — applied to its use. Many thought the Internet was beyond government regulation, its very chaos a source of creativity and strength.
As an apartment-dweller, I have lived for 20 years in a series of white-walled boxes with neutral carpets. I have assembled and eventually ripped apart the kind of furniture that comes with an Allen wrench. And I have had my adventures. When leaving an apartment in Brooklyn, I tore a sofa bed apart with my bare hands and feet — broke it and destroyed it — because it was old and I knew I'd never get it through the door again.
Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 10:08 am
Is there more to say about World War I nurses and their patients after Hemingway's uber-classic A Farewell to Arms? The saga of ambulance driver Frederic Henry and his beautiful English nurse Catherine Barkley is generally thought to be an unrivaled fictional treatment of what was called, at the time, the Great War. Could a different novelist squeeze additional juice from this particular grape?