Originally published on Wed June 19, 2013 12:48 pm
This week, Vice magazine unveiled a fashion spread featuring images based on famous female writers who killed themselves. To call it merely tasteless would be to understate how calculated it was, as well as how revolting it was — it literally created an image based on a real writer who really hanged herself with a pair of stockings, and then it told you where to buy the stockings.
British writer Maggie O'Farrell, born in Northern Ireland, is less well-known in the U.S. than she should be. Her mesmerizing, tautly plotted novels often revolve around long-standing, ugly family secrets and feature nonconformist women who rebel against their strict Irish Catholic upbringing. Her most recent books, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox (2006) and The Hand That First Held Mine (2010), offer the sort of spellbinding reads that can make you miss your flight announcement.
NPR's Uri Berliner is taking $5,000 of his own savings and putting it to work. Though he's no financial whiz or guru, he's exploring different types of investments — alternatives that may fare better than staying in a savings account that's not keeping up with inflation.
Apricots are the finest of summer's fruits, with dense, juicy flesh and delicate, velvety skins. Piled in baskets in farmers market stalls, they seem to glow in the early morning light. The prettiest ones have a celestial blush and a sweet, floral fragrance.
That's why it is so disheartening when you bite into one only to find it is mealy and flavorless. I can't count the number of times this apricot lover has been the victim of just such an injustice. You probably have been, too.
London's 122 Leadenhall Street (nicknamed the "Cheese-Grater") is shown under construction on March 5. Once complete it will be London's second-tallest building. The recent construction of numerous skyscrapers has sparked concern that views of historic landmark buildings, such as St Paul's Cathedral, are being obscured.
Cities are defined by their skylines — while Paris is composed mostly of low-rise apartment buildings, New York is a city of tall office towers. But London is a city in transition. On Tuesday, Boris Johnson, the mayor of the British capital, attends a "topping out" ceremony for one of London's latest skyscrapers in a city where tall buildings cause a lot of controversy.
Until recently, London has been a low-rise city. Even now, a 12-story building is considered rather tall. But a spate of new skyscrapers is raising questions about the kind of city London should be.
Mary Theresa Archbold (left), Anita Hollander and Tiffan Borelli star in Bekah Brunstetter's <em>Gorgeous</em>, part of Theater Breaking Through Barriers' initial Some of Our Parts<em> </em>Festival in 2011. A third round of new short plays runs through June 28 at New York City's Clurman Theatre.
Credit Carol Rosegg / Theater Breaking Through Barriers
Ike Schambelan doesn't like thinking about disability, and he's guessing you don't either.
"We hate it. We do not want to see it," he says. "Personally, I want to see it least in myself, second in my wife, third in my cat and fourth in you and all others. I don't want to know about it. I want to be in a total state of denial about it as much as I can be."
Singer Cécile McLorin Salvant was born in Miami to French and Haitian parents, and started singing jazz while living in Paris. Back in the U.S., she won the Thelonious Monk vocal competition in 2010. The 23-year-old's first album, WomanChild, is now out — and few jazz debuts by singers or instrumentalists make this big a splash.
NPR has obtained [or invented, whatever] an excerpt of the draft script for Zack Snyder's much-rumored sequel to the hugely successful Man Of Steel. The script, which was found in a booth at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on La Cienega, suggests that the distinctive tone set by Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and adopted by Snyder's Man Of Steel will continue to inform the expanding cinematic universe of DC Comics characters.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but maybe you just need a few moms in your corner. Every week, we check in with a diverse group of parents for their comments and some savvy advice.
When's the last time you read a comic book? Oh, right, the term now is "graphic novel" — as if calling them "comics" was somehow undignified or not sufficiently intellectual. But the problem with "graphic novel" is that it's far too limiting — because, sure, while all comics are graphic, many of the smartest and most exciting examples don't even remotely resemble novels. In fact, I'm about to recommend five books that — each for its own reason — can only be called comics, representing a wide range of literature being produced in what is truly a golden age.
Mary Louise Kelly used to cover the national security beat for NPR, but lately she's turned her attention to teaching and writing fiction. Her new novel, Anonymous Sources, followsrookie journalist Alexandra James as she investigates a shady banana shipment and a clandestine nuclear plot. The tale is fiction, but it draws on Kelly's own experiences reporting on the spy beat, including things she couldn't say when she was a journalist.
Once upon a time, it was MySpace. (Huh. Turns out you can still link to it.) Then Facebook happened. And Twitter. And beyond those two dominant social-media platforms, there are a host of other, newer options for staying in touch and letting the digital universe get a look at your life. And for certain kinds of sharing, some of those other options make more sense to tech-savvy teens than the Big Two do.
Mitch Albom is famous for writing heartwarming best-sellers like <em>Tuesdays With Morrie </em>and <em>The Five People You Meet in Heaven</em>. As a member of The Rock Bottom Remainders, he plays keyboard and shows off his Elvis impression.
Credit Mike Medeiros / Courtesy of Coliloquy
Given the number of books sold by members of The Rock Bottom Remainders, it's not necessarily a slur to say that their writing gifts far outshine their musicality. Here, drummer Josh Kelly and guitarist Roger McGuinn (at center) join authors Amy Tan, Stephen King, Greg Iles and Dave Barry.
Credit Joseph Peduto / Courtesy of Coliloquy
<em>Hard Listening </em>is divided into easily navigable chapter-like sections.
With The Ocean at the End of the Lane, best-selling fantasy author Neil Gaiman has written his first adult novel in almost a decade. It's a deceptively simple tale that feels like escapism — until you realize that it isn't.
Ocean is told from the point of view of a melancholy but successful artist returning to his childhood home in Sussex, England. On a lark, he visits an old farm where he played as a boy, and is suddenly overwhelmed by memories of being entangled in a magical conflict with roots stretching back before the Big Bang.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today not to mourn the nine-patty T-Rex Burger, but to celebrate its life. It was pulled this week, far too young, from the menu of a rogue Manitoba Wendy's that served it to two or three people a day. It is survived by the few people who ate it and survived.
Said a Wendy's spokesperson: "For obvious reasons, Wendy's ... neither condones nor promotes the idea of anyone consuming a nine-patty hamburger in one sitting."
Here we go into the wild blue yonder again with Colum McCann. In his 2009 novel, Let the Great World Spin, McCann swooped readers up into the air with the French aerialist Philippe Petit, who staged an illegal high-wire stunt walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. Strictly speaking, Let the Great World Spin was not a Sept. 11 novel, and yet almost everyone rightly read it as one, since McCann's tale commemorated the towers at the literal zenith of their history.
<em>The Deserters</em> is Charles Glass' second book relating to World War II. His last book, <em>Americans in Paris,</em> told the story of the U.S. citizens who remained in the French capital after the 1940 German invasion.
Credit Penguin Press
John Bain, shown above in 1940, is one of the men Glass profiles in <em>The Deserters</em>.
Credit Penguin Press
Bain, show above at 85 in 2007, deserted from the Gordon Highlanders.
Few citizens are more honored than military veterans, and there's particular reverence for those who defeated the Nazis in World War II. Like any war, however, World War II was complicated and traumatic for those on the ground, and not a few deserted from the front lines.
Does cast-iron skillet cornbread, hot and crispy from the oven, transport you back to your grandma's kitchen? Do you cook with certain ingredients as a link to your roots in the South? If so, "A Spoken Dish" wants to hear your story.
The Southern Foodways Alliance is teaming up with Whole Foods Market and Georgia Organics in this video storytelling project as a way to celebrate and document food memories and rituals of the American South.
Bonfires light up the Belfast skyline on July 12, 1997, as Protestant loyalists commemorate the 17th century victory of a Protestant king over his deposed Catholic predecessor. Known as the Battle of the Boyne, the confrontation is part of a long history of tensions in the region.
Credit Paul McErlane / AP
The Victoria Square shopping center's observation deck offers a panoramic of Belfast's skyline.
Credit Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images
Belfast's No Alibis Bookstore has helped launch at least two of Stuart Neville's mysteries.
Credit Noah Adams / NPR
The Palm House in Belfast's Botanic Gardens houses a range of tropical plants.
Credit Robert Young / Flickr
The peace wall on Belfast's Falls Road was traditionally used to display political messages from Irish Republicans. Today, artists use their skills to highlight political messages from around the world.
At 41, with long black hair, Stuart Neville looks more like the rock guitarist he used to be than the author he is now. He lives in a small town with his family — not in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the city that plays a central role in his thrillers, but just outside it.
<a href="http://www.judyblume.com/">Judy Blume</a> is the author of many books for kids and teens, including <em>Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing</em> and <em>Blubber</em>. Her fans have riffed on Bloomsday (a celebration of James Joyce's<em> Ulysses</em>) and created Blumesday in her honor.
Today is Blumesday. Not the Bloomsday where readers celebrate James Joyce's novel Ulysses — that was Sunday. Today's Blumesday is also a holiday for literature lovers, but of a different sort.
Blumesday creators Joanna Miller and Heather Larimer are writers, and they're pretty well-read. But they were never huge fans of Ulysses. "We sort of self-deprecatingly said, 'Well, the only way we could participate in Bloomsday was if it were Judy Blumesday.' And then the joke turned into, 'Wait, why aren't we doing this?' " Miller explains.
Count plenty of grown-ups among the millions of fans of Adventure Time, a kids' show on Cartoon Network. Some are surely Emmy voters. (It's won three.) Others are very possibly stoners. Still others are intellectuals. Lev Grossman falls in the last category. He wrote two best-selling novels, The Magicians and The Magician King, and he's Time's senior book critic.
In 1904, on June 16, writer James Joyce took one of the long walks of history. He invited a maid from Finn's Hotel, Nora Barnacle, out for a walk. And later, he'd say it was that walk that made a man of him.