The '60s London of the unhappy adolescent Ginger (Elle Fanning, with Annette Bening's mentoring May) was more complicated than students Ginger's age understand today. Film writer Ella Taylor, who lived through that decade, came late to an understanding of the toll it took on young women like Ginger.
Credit Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS
The 1963 nuclear disarmament demonstration known as the Aldermaston March, which culminated in a speech by the aristocratic British social critic Bertrand Russell, was characteristic of left-leaning activism in 1960s London. Film writer Ella Taylor (not pictured) participated in many such demonstrations in her youth.
A few weeks ago, I asked a class of college undergraduates what the 1960s meant to them.
"That flower-power thing?" one young man volunteered brightly.
The further we get from that misunderstood decade, the more the many strands of its rebelliousness get reduced to a pop-culture T-shirt slogan, a cartoon strip starring tie-dyed youth with stoned eyes and floor-mop hair.
Novelist Phillip Roth steers clear of provocation in the PBS documentary Philip Roth: Unmasked; he comes across, rather, as sensible, sensitive, maybe a bit cranky but hardly outrageous at all. And his unmistakable voice will ring true, especially for fans.
PBS producer Susan Lacy guides Roth through nearly 90 minutes of personal reflection and debate in the new documentary feature.
There's nothing particularly dynamic about Livia Manera and William Karel's documentary Philip Roth: Unmasked. For some 90 minutes, it's pretty much just one guy talking. But what a guy!
Roth is one of the greatest living novelists, possibly even the greatest. He can also be an inflammatory presence, eliciting outrage almost as much as admiration, particularly among women who see him as a misogynist.
Originally published on Mon March 18, 2013 12:43 pm
Jessica Francis Kane drew considerable attention for her artful historic novel, The Report, which explored the repercussions of a tragic incident in March 1943, when 173 people died while rushing into the Bethnal Green tube station for shelter during an air raid. Her portraits of wartime Londoners were psychologically acute and rich in evocative detail. She applies that same skill to her second collection, This Close, populated by 21st century Americans adrift in an increasingly complicated world.
Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 11:16 am
In his new novel, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, Mohsin Hamid's nameless protagonist is an ambitious young man who moves from the countryside to a megalopolis in search of his fortune. The city is modeled on Lahore, Pakistan, where Hamid was born and partly raised and where — after living in the United States and England — he has now settled with his family.
William H. Gass is a glutton of language. Like a chef who can't cook without nibbling, he lards his own writing with similes and metaphors in the spirit of the books he loves, savoring them through imitation. In his essays on literature, this gusto is contagious. You want to taste his taste, to read what he has read. Gass' exuberant, bursting sentences convey the pleasure of reading and thinking better than just about any written since the New Critics took over criticism in the 1950s.
Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 7:57 am
As we prepare to celebrate Pi(e) Day on Thursday (Congress established March 14 as a day to honor both the mathematical constant, 3.14, and our nation's favorite dessert), we find a burgeoning pie scene in Chicago. And it's not of the deep-dish variety.
Poetry and social media join forces once again in April. Tell Me More celebrates National Poetry Month with its 3rd annual Muses and Metaphor series. We'll feature poems exchanged via Twitter by NPR fans — always in 140 characters or fewer. Tweet your poem using the hashtag: #TMMPoetry.
Sheryl Sandberg tells an anecdote in her new book, Lean In, about sitting down with her boss, Mark Zuckerberg, for her first performance review as chief operating officer at Facebook. Zuckerberg told her that her "desire to be liked by everybody would hold [her] back." I hope she's worked on that problem because over the past few weeks, there sure have been a lot of people hating on Sheryl Sandberg.
It's the handwriting that stands out to Cedrick May.
As an associate professor of English at the University of Texas, Arlington, he assigned his doctoral students to find some of the known works by Jupiter Hammon, the first published African-American poet. Hammon's works date back to 1760.
What one student ended up finding was a previously unpublished piece by the poet that shows how deeply he thought about slavery and religion.
Ben Katchor's previous collections of comic strips include The Cardboard Valise; The Jew of New York; Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer; and The Beauty Supply District. He was the first cartoonist to receive a MacArthur Genius Fellowship.
Ben Katchor's syndicated comic strips vary in subject — his Julius Knipl: Real Estate Photographer, for example, explores the surreal underside of our urban environment by documenting the inner lives of the spaces and storefronts we walk past every day, while The Cardboard Valise reads like a Fodor's guide to a country that exists only in Franz Kafka's dream journal.
Each episode of "The Bowery Boys" explores a different aspect of New York City history, like how Canal Street, pictured here in 1899, once channeled water from the now-filled Collect Pond.
Credit Library of Congress
"Bowery Boys" co-hosts Tom Meyers and Greg Young call themselves "home-schooled historians," and they do extensive research for their show and its related blog. For an episode about Manhattan's grid pattern, they dug up this map from a book published in 1840.
Credit Library of Congress
Meyers and Young record each episode of "The Bowery Boys" at a kitchen table and feature archival art, like this 1896 lithograph, on their website.
In the 19th century, the Bowery Boys were a street gang that ruled that small section of Manhattan. In the 21st century, the Bowery Boys are two best friends — Tom Meyers and Greg Young — who record a do-it-yourself podcast with the same name.
Meyers and Young love to perform almost as much as they love New York City, and their show traces the unofficial history of the place. They record a few blocks from — you guessed it — the Bowery district.
It's pilot season, that time of year when television networks create and test new shows with hopes of turning out the next big thing. But whatever new plots they come up with, it's safe to say that they will turn to the safety of a limited number of character archetypes: the lovable loser, the charming rogue, the desperate housewife.
Lillian Cahn, co-founder of Coach Leatherwear Co., died March 4 at the age of 89. Cahn was the force behind today's high-end leather handbags.
Back in the 1960s, she and her husband, Miles Cahn, were running a leather goods business in Manhattan. They produced men's wallets and billfolds but wanted to expand.
"My wife had a great sense of style, and she made the suggestions that we men maybe were a little thoughtless about," Miles Cahn says with a laugh. "Among her many suggestions was: 'Why don't we make pocketbooks?' I like to tell people I scoffed at the suggestion."
In her new book, Frankenstein's Cat:Cuddling up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts, science journalist Emily Anthes talks about how the landscape of bioengineering has expanded since Dolly the Sheep was cloned in 1996. Scientists, she says, are now working to create pigs that can grow organs for human transplant, goats that produce valuable protein-rich milk, and cockroaches that could potentially serve as tiny scouts into danger zones for the military.
Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 3:37 pm
Risa Hirai is a Japanese artist who paints detailed images of bonsai trees and Japanese meals. But instead of using paint on a canvas, she works with icing on a cookie.
The 23-year-old is a senior at Tama Art University in Tokyo whose mouthwatering works will be exhibited at Gallery Tokyo Humanite all this week. Assistant director Maie Tsukuda tells The Salt it's the gallery's first cookie exhibit and notes that it's not an ordinary medium for artists.
"Cutting Ribbon, Man In Wheelchair, Paintings (Version #2), 1988" shows John Baldessari's signature technique, faces covered with colorful circles. The practice had its genesis when the artist idly stuck a price sticker on the face of someone pictured in a newspaper clipping.
Credit Hedi Slimane / Courtesy the artist
In 1970, John Baldessari burned everything he had painted between 1953 and 1966. "I said ... 'I don't really need them.' So I decided I'll just destroy them." After that, Baldessari turned to photography and sculpture.
Credit Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty
"Pure Beauty," shown here at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2010, is one of John Baldessari's many provocative "text paintings."
Of all the posters plastered around Facebook's Silicon Valley headquarters — "Move Fast and Break Things," "Done Is Better Than Perfect" and "Fail Harder" — Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has a favorite: "What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?"
"[It's] something that I think is really important and I think very motivating," Sandberg tells NPR's Renee Montagne. " ... I wrote in my book, what I would do if I wasn't afraid is, I would speak out more on behalf of women."
The Last Five Years originally ran off-Broadway in 2002. Cited as one of Time magazine's "Ten Best of 2001," it won Drama Desk awards for Best Music and Best Lyrics.
There are only two characters in the musical, Jamie and Cathy. Jamie is a young novelist and Cathy is a struggling actress. Told in reverse chronological order, the drama shows what happens when an artistic couple's romance fizzles out.
Christa and Cara Parravani were identical twins. When they were 28, Cara died of a drug overdose, and Christa spiraled into depression.
In her new book, Her: A Memoir, Christa explores their bond of sisterhood, which went beyond blood into the elliptical world of twinhood.
Both were artists, one a writer and the other a photographer. Both married young. Both lived through a hardscrabble childhood with a troubled mother. But Cara's path diverged after she was attacked and raped at age 24.
I've read He Died With His Eyes Open twice. I don't know if I could stand to read it again. Like all of Derek Raymond's work, it has a remarkable and disturbing physicality.
This book was the first of what came to be known as the Factory series. Its protagonist is an unnamed detective in London's Metropolitan Police. He will never rise above sergeant and works in the most despised branch of "the Factory": Unexplained Deaths.
We're going to take a moment now to talk about a word - yep, one word. Maybe you use it all the time or maybe you feel people use the word and it drives you up the wall. I'm talking about the word literally.
You could hardly design a better Hollywood success story than that of powerhouse Rita Moreno: Born Rosa Dolores Alverio in Puerto Rico, she arrived in New York when she was 5 years old. Over the years, she became a talented dancer and ended up in Hollywood, making her mark in musicals like Singin' in the Rain and The King and I before winning an Oscar for her unforgettable turn as Anita in West Side Story.
The Silence and the Roar follows a young man living in an unnamed Middle Eastern country that is in chaos. The book doesn't explicitly take place in Syria, but the similarities between its setting and author Nihad Sirees' home country are undeniable.
Sirees' work has been banned from publication in Syria, where he's considered an opponent of the government — another point at which Sirees' story and that of his protagonist, Fathi Chin, intersect.
On-air challenge: Every answer is a word containing an A and a Z. Given anagrams of the remaining letters, name the word. For example, given "leg," the answer would be "glaze".
Last week's challenge: Eight people are seated at a circular table. Each person gets up and sits down again — either in the same chair or in the chair immediately to the left or right of the one they were in. How many different ways can the eight people be re-seated?