Arts

Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed March 19, 2014

The World's Smallest Time Machine Is Still Pretty Big

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 8:50 am

When it comes to anthologies, there are two kinds of readers: On the one hand, there are folks who hate them simply because they're not novels — because it's like having an entire table full of appetizers but never getting to the main course. On the other, wiser (and, no doubt, better looking) hand, there are those who say, "Sweet! A whole dinner of appetizers!" and then commence chewing their way gleefully through every word.

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Books
3:01 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Common Core Creates Opportunities For Publishers

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 8:28 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne with an opportunity for publishers. Some 45 states and the District of Columbia have now signed onto the new Common Core education standards. And that will draw in not just companies that make textbooks and teaching materials, but also publishers of children's books - novels, nonfiction, the kind of books people read for pleasure.

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Kitchen Window
10:13 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Oranges: Secret Agents Of The Food World

T. Susan Chang for NPR

For me, the citrus fruits of winter have been bright spots in a long, frost-bound season. The lemons, the oranges, the sweet little clementines, the tart, brawny grapefruits — they glow like miniature suns on the grayest afternoons. As we — finally — turn the long, slow corner in the spring, I love them all the more for knowing they will soon be gone.

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The Salt
5:19 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

A Bittersweet Goodbye: White House Pastry Chef To Move On

Among Bill Yosses' many confectionary creations for the first family: this nearly 300-pound gingerbread model of the White House, on display in the State Dining Room in November 2012. The house featured not just Bo, the family dog, but also a vegetable garden.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 5:58 pm

The first family must be crust fallen.

Bill Yosses, the White House pastry chef, is moving to New York in June.

"Though I am incredibly sad to see Bill Yosses go, I am also so grateful to him for his outstanding work," first lady Michelle Obama said in a statement. She credited Yosses as "a key partner helping us get the White House Kitchen garden off the ground and building a healthier future for our next generation."

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Book Reviews
5:03 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

'Story Of The Jews' Illuminates Centuries Of Suffering

iStockphoto.com

In the early 1930s, an ominous, yet very familiar shadow recast itself across the continent of Europe: extreme hatred of the Jew.

This fierce loathing reached its apogee when Hitler came to power in 1933 — but just a decade earlier, Jews were considered the backbone of European culture, flourishing in the arts, science, literature, and journalism.

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New In Paperback
3:08 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

March 15-21: Typhoid Mary, World War I And Reflections From The South

Harper

*Some of the language in the summaries above has been provided by publishers.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Theater
3:00 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Deepwater, Center-Stage: Disaster Through Survivors' Eyes

Gary Barthelmy, Oyster Fisherman is a portrait by Reeva Wortel, used in conjunction with the production of Spill, a play that runs through March 30 at the Swine Palace in Baton Rouge.
Reeva Wortel

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 2:50 pm

Eleven died and hundreds of millions of gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico when BP's Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in 2010. But beneath the tragedy, there's a complex story about people's relationships to oil. That's what's explored in Spill, a new play by one of the creators of The Laramie Project.

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Book Reviews
2:25 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Book Review: 'Falling Out Of Time'

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 2:50 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

"Falling Out of Time" is the name of a new novel by Israeli writer David Grossman. Our reviewer Alan Cheuse calls it a dramatic meditation on grief, reminiscent of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town." [POST-BROADCAST CLARIFICATION: The book was translated from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen.]

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Author Interviews
11:59 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Feminism Is Fashionable For Nigerian Writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie won a National Book Critics Circle award for her novel Americanah.
Amy Ta NPR

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 9:48 pm

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Author Interviews
11:45 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Cannibals And Colonialism: Solving The Mystery Of Michael Rockefeller

Michael Rockefeller, the youngest son of New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, was reported missing on Nov. 21, 1961
AP

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 3:14 pm

In 1961, the 23-year-old son of one of America's wealthiest families disappeared in a remote coastal area off the island of New Guinea in the South Pacific, a region inhabited by the Asmat, a tribe known to engage in headhunting and cannibalism.

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Book Reviews
11:45 am
Tue March 18, 2014

What U.S. Learned From 'Heathen School' Wasn't Part Of The Lesson Plan

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 7:51 am

Picture this. You're a young girl, living in a remote town in Connecticut in 1825. You've taken refuge in a neighbor's house and, as night falls, you peek out a window to see your friends and family members assembling outdoors around two crude paintings: One is of a young white woman (you); the other painting is of a man, a Native American.

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The Two-Way
5:38 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Book News: U.K. Campaign Wants To Slay Pretty Princesses, Valiant Knights

An artist's rendering circa 750 A.D. of an Anglo-Saxon king and his armor bearer preparing for battle.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Tue March 18, 2014

All Sides Of A Divorce, Told In Fresh, Lively 'Papers'

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 4:20 pm

The "woe that is in marriage," the subject of the Wife of Bath's Prologue in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, is a great old subject. Susan Rieger's smart and wonderfully entertaining domestic comedy, with all its shifts of tone from the personal to the legal and a lot in between, takes up this old problem and makes it fresh and lively — and in some places so painful, because it has to do with a child torn between two parents, you don't want to go on. But you do. The power and canniness of this bittersweet work of epistolary fiction pulls you along.

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The Salt
3:24 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Japanese Tea Ritual Turned 15th Century 'Tupperware' Into Art

Courtesy Freer Gallery of Art

Eight hundred years ago, tea was rare in Japan. It arrived from China in simple, ceramic storage jars. Chinese ceramists churned these jars out with little care or attention; they stuffed tea leaves into them and shipped them off.

The jars were "the Chinese version of Tupperware," says Andrew Watsky, a professor of Japanese art history at Princeton.

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Movie Interviews
2:09 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Jason Bateman, Taking A Turn As The Big Bad

Jason Bateman took cues from Arrested Development in portraying the profoundly unsympathetic character Guy Trilby.
Sam Urdank Courtesy of Focus Features

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 4:33 pm

When you see actor Jason Bateman on screen, he's usually playing the nice guy — or at least the nicest guy in the room. On the TV cult favorite Arrested Development, Bateman is easily the heart of the show.

But given the chance to direct a movie, he cast himself as a vulgar sociopath with a gift for coming up with the perfect put-down. The film is Bad Words, and it tells the story of a 40-year-old elbowing his way onto the middle-school spelling-bee circuit, to the frustration of kids, parents and teachers alike.

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Monkey See
1:38 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

'Veronica Mars' And The Bad Caterpillar Theory

In the movie, Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) is a recent law school grad living in New York when an old flame — Logan Echolls — calls her back to her home town of Neptune, Calif.
Robert Voets Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 2:57 pm

[CAUTION: Contains information about both show and movie. Be warned.]

The story of the Veronica Mars movie has already become the insta-cook version of a legend: creator and star band together for Kickstarter campaign to add chapter to cult series, fans rally, movie gets made.

Does it really matter whether it's a good movie? Maybe not. Maybe wondering whether it's good is the equivalent of critiquing a bobblehead handed out at Comic-Con: it's supposed to make people who loved something nostalgically happy; if it makes them happy, who cares?

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Movies
1:33 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Lions, Lambs, Whatever: 10 Movies To Help You Weather The Week

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 1:37 pm

March giveth and it taketh away, depending on which coast you call home. Here in California, it's sunny, yes — but we're also suffering a drought. Meanwhile, portions of the East Coast are anything but precipitation-deprived as they suffer under several inches of snow.

But whether you're stuck at home unable to get to work or school, or watching your lawn slowly turn brown as you conserve water, it's a good time to enjoy a movie. Get a taste of what isn't happening outside your window with these films about droughts or blizzards:

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The Salt
12:05 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Sandwich Monday: The Subway Flatizza

"Flatizza" is not to be confused with "Flatzilla," the two-dimensional lizard monster.
NPR

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 2:40 pm

Whether it's James Franco writing novels or Pablo Picasso scrapbooking, all great artists move outside their medium. Subway has recently been experimenting with pizzas. The latest is the Flatizza, which is a combination of "flatbread" and "pizza," and is also embarrassing to say when you have to order one.

Mike: Subway pizza is a tough sell. "Five-dollar foot-wide" feels wrong.

Miles: I just don't understand why Subway demands we wash down the Flatizza with a FlatSoda.

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Remembrances
11:37 am
Mon March 17, 2014

'Fresh Air' Remembers Comedian David Brenner

David Brenner performs at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas in 1981.
Las Vegas News Bureau AP

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 11:52 am

Comedian David Brenner became a star in the 1970s, with the help of The Tonight Show. He made his first appearance with Johnny Carson in 1971 and returned to the show more than 150 times, often as the substitute host. He also had his own short-lived late night show in the mid '80s.

Brenner died Saturday at 78. He grew up in Philadelphia, where Fresh Air is produced, and spoke to Terry Gross in 1990.


Interview Highlights

On how he started doing observational comedy

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Author Interviews
11:37 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Author Penelope Lively Shares 'The View From Old Age'

Penelope Lively's other books include A Stitch In Time, Astercote and The Road To Lichfield.
Robbin Matthew Photography Courtesy of Viking

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 11:52 am

Penelope Lively describes her latest book, Dancing Fish And Ammonites, as "not quite a memoir," but rather "the view from old age," a subject she says she can report on with some authority — Monday is the British writer's 81st birthday.

Lively was born in Egypt, where her father was working at the time. She and her mother fled the country during World War II. When she was 12, in 1945, Lively was sent to live with her grandmothers in England.

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The Salt
10:47 am
Mon March 17, 2014

The Dark History Of Green Food On St. Patrick's Day

Green cupcakes may mean party time in America, but in Ireland, emerald-tinged edibles harken back to a desperate past.
Ro Jo Images iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 7:03 am

Green food may mean party time in America, where St. Patrick's Day has long been an excuse to break out the food dye. But in Ireland, where the Irish celebrate their patron saint on March 17, green food has bitter connotations that recall the nation's darkest chapter, says historian Christine Kinealy.

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The Two-Way
5:19 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Book News: Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Travel Journals Will Be Published

Poets Lawrence Ferlinghetti (left) and Allen Ginsberg chat in 1988 during the dedication of public art dedicated to Jack Kerouac in Lowell, Mass.
Jon Chase AP

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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Book Reviews
3:04 pm
Sun March 16, 2014

Novel Reflects Desperate But Futile Search For Answers

Originally published on Sun March 16, 2014 4:35 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath.

All week, NPR has been reporting on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370. And to help us make sense of the news, we turn now to literature. Here's author Jonathan Evison.

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Movie Interviews
3:04 pm
Sun March 16, 2014

'Le Week-End': A Story Of Feuding Couples On Screen And Off

Nick (Jim Broadbent) and Meg (Lindsay Duncan) have a couple days full of tension, tiffs and a touch of romance in Le Week-End.
Nicola Dove Courtesy of Music Box Films

Originally published on Sun March 16, 2014 4:35 pm

In the film Le Week-End, a couple takes a weekend trip to Paris to celebrate an anniversary. But it's not the romantic getaway you might expect.

Nick and Meg, played by Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan, are in their 60s and have, in any ways, become disillusioned with their marriage. They spend the weekend trying to figure out what they're doing together and what they want from one another.

This is the fourth collaboration between acclaimed novelist and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi and director Roger Michell, who directed Notting Hill.

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My Big Break
3:04 pm
Sun March 16, 2014

Pumping Up A Star: The Leaky Suit That Blew Up A Career

June Ambrose designed the black suit seen in this screenshot from Missy Elliott's highly praised music video for "The Rain."
Atlantic Records Youtube

Originally published on Sun March 16, 2014 4:35 pm

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Code Switch
7:14 am
Sun March 16, 2014

'Street Fighter II': Most Racist Nostalgic Video Game Ever?

Dhalsim, right, a skinny Indian fighter who wore shrunken skulls around his neck, could stretch his limbs really far to punch or kick. His fighting style was based on yoga, you see. Chun-Li, the game's lone female character, nearly came with a shorter health meter because one game developer felt a woman character should be weaker than the men.
Street Fighter II

The video game magazine Polygon recently published a fascinating oral history of the creation of Street Fighter II, the glitchy, addictive, incredibly influential arcade game from the 1990s created by Capcom. The story rounded up all of the game's developers and artists and programmers — a group of eccentrics from America and Japan who sound like they were a bunch of HR nightmares. But despite all this, the game became a monster hit:

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Sunday Puzzle
5:51 am
Sun March 16, 2014

Two Is Company, But Three Is A Crowd

NPR

Originally published on Sun March 16, 2014 9:32 am

On-air challenge: A series of paired words will be provided. For each pair, think of a third word that can follow the first one and precede the second to complete a familiar two-word phrase. Every answer starts with "W." Example: Open and Awake; Answer: Wide.

Last week's challenge: This puzzle was created by Will Shortz for an event held recently at the Museum of Mathematics in New York City. Take the name of a classical Greek mathematician. The letters in his name can be rearranged to spell two numbers. What are they?

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Author Interviews
5:51 am
Sun March 16, 2014

'Rebel Music': When Hip-Hop Met Islam

Hip hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa at a press conference in 2006. His Zulu Nation group, formed in the 1970s to combat street violence, soon began incorporating Nation of Islam teachings in its rhetoric.
Scott Gries Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 16, 2014 1:03 pm

Hisham Aidi's new book is a sort of musical tour around the world. It's called Rebel Music: Race, Empire, and the New Muslim Youth Culture. From hip-hop in Brazilian favelas, to Pakistani punk rock, to Gnawa-reggae in North Africa, it's a look at young urban Muslims and the music they make and listen to.

Speaking with NPR's Rachel Martin, Aidi recalls meeting a French band called 3ème Oeil — "Third Eye" — at a music festival in the Bronx, the birthplace of hip-hop.

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Book Reviews
5:38 am
Sun March 16, 2014

The Lively Linguistical Exuberance Of 'Being Blue'

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 9:06 am

LANGUAGE ADVISORY: This review contains language some readers may find offensive.

First published in 1976 and now reissued by NYRB Classics, On Being Blue: A Philosophical Inquiry is an exploration of color and language, a celebration of the written and the spoken. In the hands of a novelist like William H. Gass, blue becomes everything there is to know about the world. "Blue pencils, blue noses, blue movies, laws, blue legs and stockings, the language of birds, bees, and flowers as sung by longshoremen." For starters, yes.

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You Must Read This
3:14 am
Sun March 16, 2014

A Circle Of Spies Hit The Road, Filling A 'Dossier' Of Mystery

iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 7:43 am

A few years ago, I spent the winter in Germany, teaching at Leipzig University. I'd never taught before, and it was exciting, particularly because one of the classes I'd come up with was a survey course on spy novels. The class filled up quickly — those resourceful Leipzig students recognized an easy A when they saw it — and I was eager to share the best of an often-maligned genre with them. We looked at W. Somerset Maugham's Ashenden stories, Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, John le Carre, Len Deighton, and Alan Furst.

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