Musical guests They Might Be Giants treated us to a wicked game of their own invention. But be careful: don't let John Flansburgh and John Linnell's seemingly easy trivia questions leave you in the dust.
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When writer Julia Keller talks, you notice a touch of West Virginia — it is, after all, her home state. Her accent may have faded a bit during her newspaper career in Chicago, so she says when she started thinking about writing crime novels, she was happy to hear the Appalachian voices coming out of her memory.
"I was probably the most surprised person of all when I chose to set my fiction in West Virginia," she says. "[I] hadn't lived here in a long time, didn't really know that it moved in my blood — if it did."
You can thank a very large, and very strange, machine called a puffing gun for all those Cheerios you crunched on as a kid.
And if all goes according to plan, you'll be able to see one of those guns, patented in 1939 to force air into grains so they pop in your mouth and float in a bowl of milk, at a temporary exhibition in New York City next year on the history of breakfast cereal.
Diane Sawyer will leave her job as anchor of ABC News' flagship program, World News, during the last week of August, capping a five-year run at the show and kicking off an anchor shuffle at the network.
Just as there are those who seek to drag Mr. Jackson's name through the mud, there are those who insist that he was a saint, an angelic figure to be put on a pedestal. He was neither. Michael Jackson was, like all of us, a complicated human being. -- "Remember The Time: Protecting Michael Jackson In His Final Days"
Cibola Burn is a big book. Huge, really, both in terms of pages (nearly 600 in the version I got), and in pure authorial chutzpah. It is part four in the Expanse series, which has, thus far, included three books and a smattering of novellas. And it represents, for dedicated readers of James S.A. Corey (in real life, the two-man team of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) the biggest, most sprawling leap of an already sprawling tale.
As part of NPR's "Book Your Trip" series, TV critic Eric Deggans looks at a different kind of summertime journey, described in two books that became TV shows: PBS's documentary Freedom Summer, debuting tonight, and The Hallmark Channel's The Watsons Go to Birmingham.
From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. Kalyan Ray has been busy. The Bangladesh-born writer is also a translator and actor. That may be why 10 years have passed since his first novel was released. And reviewer Alan Cheuse is happy his second is now out.
With Iraq spiraling out of control in a conflict where everyone involved has a compromised and troubling past, there's no better time for a TV series about the son of a brutal Middle Eastern dictator who returns home from America ready to oppose his father's tactics.
Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 12:53 pm
Usually when someone steps from our world into a fantasy world, they're one of two sorts of characters. There's the Bookish Outcast for whom the portal fantasy is a literal manifestation of the act of reading as escape — and there's the Chosen One, an otherwise unremarkable or unlikeable character who has a Destiny waiting in the other world. There are of course dozens of variations on these roles, but often portal fantasies are more or less wish fulfillment: we want to escape, to be wanted, to be important or powerful or our best selves.
Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 10:40 am
Rainbow Rowell turns her attention back to adult (but still young at heart) fiction in Landline, the story of Georgie, a successful sitcom writer who's not having a lot of success on the homefront. It's coming up on Christmas, and Georgie suddenly backs out of a planned holiday trip to her husband Neal's hometown — something's come up at work and she just has to stay. But when Neal packs up the kids and goes without her, she has to face up to the trouble in her marriage.
In 2009, Forbesrated designer Yves Saint Laurent the "Top-Earning Dead Celebrity" of the year. (Surely a bittersweet distinction.) Now, Saint Laurent's success — and how it was shaped and fed by his lover and manager Pierre Berge — is the subject of the new film Yves Saint Laurent. In it, their relationship is both interactive and supportive.
Like Alice Munro and her small towns of Ontario, Stuart Dybek is a short story writer whose work is often closely associated with a specific place: the working-class neighborhoods of Chicago. But in both cases, referring to the geographical connection doesn't begin to get at the expansiveness of the work. I'd hardly read much Dybek before, and so my understanding of the kind of writing that interests him was limited. I imagined stories that were beautifully written, but beyond that, I didn't know about the strangeness, beauty and engagement with memory that are central to his work.
This summer marks the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, a movement to open the polls to blacks in Mississippi and end white supremacy in the state.
Freedom Summer was organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC, which recruited 700 college students — mostly white students from the North — to travel to Mississippi and help African-Americans register to vote. The organizers, the students and the black people trying to register were all risking their lives, a measure of how pervasive racism was at the time.
If you like your summer reading to take you beyond the beaten path, librarian Nancy Pearl is here to help. NPR's go-to books guru joins us once again to share "under the radar" reads — books she thinks deserve more attention than they've been getting. Pearl talks with NPR's Steve Inskeep about some of the titles she picked out for the summer reading season — several of which will make you reconsider the way you think about maps.
More than 25 years ago, Saroo Brierley was one of many poor children in rural India. At 4 years old, he couldn't read: He didn't even know the name of his hometown. His mother was raising four children on her own, and they were constantly hungry. Brierley's older brothers would hop trains to nearby towns to search for scraps to eat.