KTEP - El Paso, Texas

Arts

Arts and culture

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

I once snuck across the border from Tijuana to San Diego. I was with NPR's Mandalit del Barco to watch people cross illegally into this country - at night, across a highway, through a fence, through sewers and over hills, we ran with them.

Genevieve Valentine's latest novel is Icon.

"I have the soul of an explorer, and in nine of ten cases this leads to destruction."

-- Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, "The Hall Bedroom"

Journalist-turned-TV producer David Simon is particularly good at two things: exposing the mindless, brutal institutions and systems that grind many Americans down, and humanizing people who normally exist at the margins of polite conversation.

One morning, when JR awoke, an image lingered from his dreams: The wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and above it a young kid peering curiously over.

A child just 1 year old, who has "no idea that's a wall that divides people — he has no idea of the political context," JR imagined. "What is he thinking?"

We take black mega-celebrity endorsers as a given today: Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce, the husk that was once Tiger Woods. They wield a kind of agency that seems to continually reset the upper limits of black aspiration, while remaining more or less incidental to the median black condition.

Latoya Peterson is a gamer, a SJW, and Deputy Editor for Digital Innovation at ESPN's The Undefeated, where she produces stories about the intersection of race, sports and culture.

"You're just data and data doesn't bleed."

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

[Warning: This essay — and this episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour — contains references to sex and assorted body parts, as well as spoilers about the first two seasons of Outlander. Proceed with caution.]

In her modernist loft in LA's arts district, author Marie Lu has a modular workspace and lounge area whimsically dubbed The Writer's Block. "We wanted it to be playful," she says.

But writer's block doesn't seem to be much of a problem for the 33-year-old science fiction and fantasy novelist. Her dystopian trilogy "Legend" and her fantasy trilogy "The Young Elites" both became best-sellers.

Home Again, a shambles of a first feature written and directed by Hallie Meyers-Shyer, purports to tell the story of a woman reinventing her life in Los Angeles as she confronts middle age. On more levels than one, though, the film is about the enduring potency of Hollywood connections.

It feels weird to recommend a Dardenne film on its entertainment value alone. Imagine if a new Philip Glass track turned out to be bubblegum pop: not a bad thing, just not what you came for.

In the best Stephen King adaptations — and the best Stephen King novels, for that matter — there's precious little daylight between the psychic stress of the characters and the supernatural forces that torment them. Carrie, The Shining, The Dead Zone, Christine: All are defined by the frightening intimacy of terrors that come from within, rather than external forces that can be vanquished like a priest exorcising a demon or ghosts expelled from a haunted house.

It sounds like an avant-garde theater maven's most cherished dream: Every year a small town writes and stages a topical "autodrama" based on the residents' own experiences. But a Tuscan village's 51st annual spectacle — Spettacolo in Italian — may be the last.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

You know that feeling when you envy someone because they're more successful, or you think they have a better life? That kind of jealousy can hit you in an almost physical way, even though you know better.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Addiction Is A Family Affair In 'Mayhem'

Sep 7, 2017

Martha Anne Toll is the Executive Director of the Butler Family Fund; her writing is at www.marthaannetoll.com, and she tweets at @marthaannetoll.

Here's a useful rule of thumb: If one of your friends says "I've got to tell you about this weird dream I had last night," run. Otherwise you're in for the most boring ten-minute story you've ever heard, punctuated with phrases like "It was, like, my house, but not my house, you know?"

Jason Heller is a Hugo Award-winning editor and author of the forthcoming book Strange Stars (Melville House). Twitter: @jason_m_heller

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Jason Sheehan knows stuff about food, video games, books and Starblazers. He is currently the restaurant critic at Philadelphia magazine, but when no one is looking, he spends his time writing books about giant robots and ray guns. Tales From the Radiation Age is his latest book.

Hallie Meyers-Shyer's first feature as a writer and director is Home Again, which stars Reese Witherspoon as a freshly separated woman who opens her home to three young filmmakers who need a place to stay. Meyers-Shyer is only 29, but her film lineage goes back decades. Her parents, Charles Shyer and Nancy Meyers (now divorced), worked together for years on films including Private Benjamin (1980), Baby Boom (1987) and the updated versions of Father Of The Bride (1991) and The Parent Trap (1998).

Sing, Unburied, Sing opens with the slaughter of a goat. "The goat makes a sound of surprise, a bleat swallowed by a gurgle, and then there's blood and mud everywhere."

Yes, blood and mud are everywhere in Jesmyn Ward's Mississippi, a place full of ghosts and corpses, bayous and roadkill ("possums or armadillos or wild pigs or hit deer, bloating and turning sour in the Mississippi heat"). That oozing mud sticks to her characters: They dream of drowning, of rising waters and sucking mud. And blood, well.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The author Salman Rushdie has set his books all over the world. His most famous novels — Midnight's Children and The Satanic Verses — take place in India and the United Kingom, both countries where Rushdie has lived. His latest, The Golden House, is set in the city he now calls home, New York, and its themes are deeply American.

If John le Carré's espionage novels seem particularly authentic, it may be because the author has first-hand experience. Le Carré worked as a spy for the British intelligence services MI5 and MI6 early in his writing career, and only left the field after his third book, 1963's The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, became an international best-seller.

Success is dull; failure is fascinating.

George Smiley is back.

For the first time in 25 years, John le Carré has written a new novel featuring the spy at the center of some his most popular books. The new release, A Legacy of Spies, is a kind of prequel to The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1963), the book that made le Carré famous and changed spy novels forever.

In A Legacy of Spies, le Carré goes deep into Smiley's past, re-examining the role he and his cohorts played in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, a story of betrayal and deception that ends badly at the Berlin Wall.

Pages