Flotsam and Jetsam: of such things are stories made. Writers use objects to give their stories weight, attachment and verisimilitude, like Gary Paulsen's The Hatchet; Jean Shepherd's Red Ryder BB Gun inspired A Christmas Story; and how about Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon?
Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 6:16 am
Ann Leary's latest book is The Good House.
I tend to read funny books when I'm happy and tragic books when I'm sad, but when I'm truly depressed, when I want to be fully immersed in the horrible splendor of the most desperate human suffering, I always return to Brian Moore's The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne.
A woman tries to salvage items from a burnt out Sufi shrine outside the Tunisian capital, Tunis, last October. Hard-line Islamists, known as Salafists, have attacked many Sufi shrines in Tunisia recently.
Credit Fethi Belaid / AFP/Getty Images
A Sufi man sits during his visit to a shrine in Tunis. Tunisia's government has promised emergency measures to protect Sufi Muslim mausoleums, which have been targeted by radical Islamist groups.
The author, a Syrian citizen living in Damascus, is not being identified by NPR for security reasons. Many Syrians interviewed for this piece asked that their full names not be used, for their safety.
In most every Arab country where there's been an uprising in the past couple of years, Islamists have gained influence or come to power. Is the same thing destined to happen in Syria if President Bashar Assad's secular government is ousted?
Syrians may not know the answer, but they certainly are talking about it.
On a Virginia plantation in 1852, a young house slave tends to her ailing mistress, creates exquisite paintings and plans her escape. In 2004 New York, an ambitious young lawyer works night and day on the biggest case of her promising career.
Tara Conklin's debut novel, The House Girl, intertwines these women's narratives in a story of art and injustice.
A number of luxury retailers are rolling out tactics this year to mark the beginning of the Lunar New Year. For Bloomingdale's in New York City, though, reaching out to Asian shoppers during the cultural celebration is a decades-long tradition.
The upscale department store's marketing strategy traces back to 1971, the year President Nixon lifted the U.S. trade embargo with the People's Republic of China. Immediately, Marvin Traub, then-president of Bloomingdale's, decided he wanted to sell Chinese goods in his flagship store on the Upper East Side.
The success of President Obama's second term agenda will rest in part on his ability to work with Congress. For more on that, Ross Baker joins us. He's a professor of political science at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He joins us from the studios there.
This week, President Barack Obama delivers the first State of the Union address of his second term, a key moment in the Washington calendar and in the often difficult relationship between the White House and Congress. NPR White House correspondent Ari Shapiro has a preview and talks with Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin.
Hundreds of mourners, including first lady Michelle Obama, turned out Saturday for the funeral of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, a Chicago girl who was shot to death just days after she and her high school band performed at inauguration events in Washington.
Her killing has catapulted her into the nation's debate over gun violence.
Weekend Edition Sunday is taking a look at how technology affects personal relationships. Along with romantic and workplace connections, family dynamics are shifting.
The Jordans are a classic example of a family trying to figure out how to use technology without feeling disconnected from one another. Sue and David have five kids: two off at college and three still at home.
For Valentine's Day, maybe you'll post a photo of your loved one on Facebook, tweet out a love poem or text-message your secret crush. But as we make those virtual connections, are we missing something?
Weekend Edition Sunday is exploring a few of the places in our lives where technology can actually drive us apart and make real intimacy tough: in our romantic relationships, with our kids, even in the workplace.
Sunday night's Grammys are an opportunity to rain accolades on pop music and perhaps witness the musical return of Justin Timberlake. But each year, the Recording Academy also honors recordings of "lasting significance" by inducting them into the Grammy Hall of Fame. One of them this year is Kentucky fiddler Bill Stepp's performance of "Bonaparte's Retreat."
On-air challenge: Every answer is a three-letter word that ends a familiar two-word phrase. You will be given the first word of the phrase. You provide the three-letter word that ends it. And the three letters in your answer will always be found, in some order, inside the first word. For example, given "Arctic," you would say "Air."
A Justice Department memo outlining the President's authority to initiate drone strikes against suspected terrorists - even U.S. born ones - has sparked a discussion about the limits of the executive branch. Host Jacki Lyden speaks with James Fallows, national correspondent with The Atlantic, about the controversy.
In Teddy Wayne's new novel, YouTube sensation Jonny Valentine has the sugar-sweet pipes of a teen heartthrob. But he also has a controlling manager-mom, a missing father, a retinue of people who work for him and a record label that's leaning on him to move the merchandise — fast.
It sounds like a horror story: Every few years, usually in the winter months, residents of the town of Leesburg, Va., come home from work to find their backyards overrun with turkey vultures. Not just a few birds, but hundreds of them. Everywhere.
Lt. Jeff Dube is with the town's police department. For a whole week, he spent every evening driving around town, looking for the latest vulture hotspots.
"They like Leesburg. There's really no rhyme or reason. Every three to five years they come back en mass, like this year, 2- to 300," Dube says.
As crews dig out from a record-breaking snow storm in New England, there are new worries about flooding. The National Weather Service reported waves three stories high off the coast. NPR's Jeff Brady reports from Boston.
The Northeast's latest winter storm, which the Weather Channel named Nemo, is winding down, but it has left behind more than 30 inches of snow in some places. It's also left a lot of people stranded, either #CoopedUp indoors or stuck in cars overnight on the Long Island Expressway.
Pilgrims and tourists visiting the Vatican received a special treat Saturday, when some 4,000 members of the Knights of Malta marched in procession to the tomb of St. Peter.
The last of the great chivalrous orders is celebrating the 900th anniversary of its official recognition by Pope Paschal II. On Saturday, the Knights attended Mass in St. Peter's Basilica and received an audience with Pope Benedict XVI.
That's the header on a 14-page letter attributed to Christopher Dorner. The former Los Angeles police officer is the focus of a massive manhunt spanning California, Arizona, Nevada and Mexico after he allegedly shot and killed three people — including a police officer — and wounded several others during a shooting spree.
Two feet of snow can be a major inconvenience. We feel for you, friends in the Northeast. To help you work through that serious snow surplus, we shuffled through our virtual recipe box for snow cuisine.
It's like being given lemons and making lemonade, though you definitely don't want to be doing anything with lemon-colored snow you find outside.
This week, Wait Wait comes to you from the AT&T Performing Arts Center in the Dallas Arts District. Turns out, singer Erykah Badu was a student at the high school for the performing arts directly across the street. We're guessing she used to gaze across the street and say to herself: "Someday I'm going to be in a theater that's not yet built, performing on a public radio news quiz." And today, that dream comes true.