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?"
On the second page of his debut novel Snow Hunters, Paul Yoon vividly depicts the last moments before his protagonist Yohan is liberated from a prisoner of war camp on the Korean peninsula, "where there was always a wind that carried the smell of soil and sickness" from the animals at a nearby farm. Yohan is about to catch a boat to Brazil and start a new life as a Japanese tailor's apprentice – and as he rides away in a UN truck, he "shut his eyes and dreamed of castles."
Novelist Sue Grafton is a real hoot. She's just as likely to talk, in that native Kentucky drawl of hers, about her prized silver-coin mint julep cups as about a juicy murder mystery. But she does have a crime writer's imagination.
"I always say to people, 'Don't cross me, OK? Because you will be so sorry,'" she says. "'I have ways to kill you you ain't even thought of yet.'"
When Madeleine L'Engle won the Newbery Prize for A Wrinkle in Time, she ended her speech with the thought that a book "can be a star, 'explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly,' a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe."
While the cynics among us might argue that America's high ideals and lofty rhetoric rarely transcend their inscriptions on stone, few would disagree that the 1963 March on Washington was one of the nation's finest hours. It was a transformational moment, and a portent for future blows to segregation and injustice.
In the town where I grew up — Memphis, Tenn. — Tad Pierson has made a career out of his love for cars and American music by working as a tour guide. We meet in the grand lobby of the Peabody Hotel, the downtown landmark famous for its ducks and Southern elegance. But it's also considered the starting point of the Mississippi Delta, a region steeped in the blues.
Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 5:44 pm
You might think a great benefit of living in Maine is unlimited access to fresh, cheap lobster. Most Mainers, however, probably eat less lobster in a year than tourists here consume in a week. Lobster bakes and boiling lobsters in those tall, speckled pots are grudgingly reserved for when company comes.
Writer Kiese Laymon has had the kind of year every first-time author dreams of: two books published to critical acclaim. But none of that came easily. The title of his most recent book, an essay collection released on Tuesday, hints at how tough the road really was: It's called How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America.
Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 3:26 pm
For a few hours Tuesday, it appeared that Chipotle Mexican Grill, an ever expanding source of fast food for the ethically conscious consumer, had softened its hard line against antibiotics in meat production.
What's the point of a library in the digital age? It's a question that makes librarians bristle. They are quick to remind you that they are not just repositories for printed books and DVDs. Regular patrons know this, but public libraries want to reach beyond the faithful. To that end, many librarians are finding creative ways to get people through the doors despite their limited resources.
My parents married young — both were still undergraduates — and so by the time my father started graduate school in mathematics, he and my mother were the harried parents of three small children. They wanted us to see America. And so my father chose the University of Arizona — about as far as you could go from our West Virginia home without falling off the country's opposite edge. On our way, we stopped in Tombstone.
Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 2:56 pm
Cooking with calf's head and cow heel may not sound like the most palatable way to spend an afternoon, but it's all in a day's work for librarian Judith Finnamore of London's Westminster Archive Centre.
Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 12:20 pm
The Chicago sandwich containing gyro meat, roast beef and corned beef goes by many names. This is one of many ways in which it's like the devil, and Sean Combs. People call it the Gym Shoe, the Jim Shoe or the Jim Shoo.
Ian: With a name this unappetizing, the sandwich had no choice but to be so delicious no one would mess with it. It's like A Boy Named Shoe.
Blythe: I thought I'd need my Reebok Stomach Pumps for this.
Piper Kerman was a 24-year-old Smith College graduate in 1993, when she flew to Belgium with a suitcase of money intended for a West African drug lord.
This misguided adventure started when she began a romantic relationship with a woman who was part of what Kerman describes as a "clique of impossibly stylish and cool lesbians in their mid-30s." That woman was involved in a drug-smuggling ring, and got Kerman involved, too, though Kerman left that life after several months.
If you're like me, you probably feel exhausted just thinking about how much cultural stuff is out there. A friend recently told me he was reading an acclaimed Hungarian novelist whose books I've never opened. "Please tell me he stinks," I begged, "so I don't have to read him."
"Actually, he's great," came the reply, and I groaned. This was something I didn't want to know.
And now we turn to a very different kind of fashion/history story. Last year, clothing and accessories line Paul Frank hosted a powwow and dream catcher party that offended a lot of people, not just Native Americans. Bloggers like Adrienne Keene demanded an apology and the company obliged. But Paul Frank Industries didn't stop there. They decided to team up with native designers to create a line that showcases art from the many Native American cultures.
Perhaps you heard that last night, a plucky little drug dealer named Walter White returned to television for his last eight episodes of the award-hoarding Breaking Bad.
But before he began his life of crime, Walter White was a chemistry teacher, and chemistry is what originally made him such a great meth cook. Breaking Bad has always included a lot of science talk, especially in the early days, and the time has come for someone to see whether it holds up.
We're going to hear now about a play on stage here in Los Angeles, though it's set in another hot city, it's called "One Night In Miami," and it's based on a real event. On February 25th, 1964, the young Cassius Clay defeated world heavyweight champion Sonny Liston. Clay, who would soon change his name to Muhammad Ali, celebrated his victory in a small hotel room with three of the most prominent African-Americans of the time.