William Styron was one of the flamboyant literary figures of the 20th Century. He was a Southerner whose novel Lie Down in Darkness received immense acclaim when he was just 26 years old. He would go on to write the Confessions of Nat Turner, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1968.
But for the last 27 years of his life, Styron did not write a novel. He battled depression, and wrote a seminal work about it, Darkness Visible, in 1990.
When Philip Hensher realized he didn't know what his best friend's handwriting looked like, he decided to write a book. Host Rachel Martin speaks with Hensher about that book, The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting.
Congress returns to work this week after taking most of the autumn off to campaign. Host Rachel Martin speaks with NPR's Washington editor, Ron Elving, about the long congressional to-do list during the so-called "lame-duck" session.
In fiscal year 2012, the Bureau of the Public Debt received nearly $8 million in donations from private citizens, far surpassing the previous year's haul. But it barely makes a dent in the overall national debt. So why give away all that cash?
In truth, nobody knows whether the U.S. will indeed go hurtling over the fiscal cliff into recession, or inch back from the edge of the precipice. Since all economies are linked globally, host Rachel Martin speaks with Borzou Daragahi, the Middle East bureau chief for The Financial Times, about how that region views the U.S. negotiations.
For more on the changing dynamic in that region, we're joined live in the studio by P.J. Crowley. He served as assistant secretary of state for public affairs in the Obama administration between 2009 and 2011. He also served on the National Security Council in the Clinton administration. P.J., thanks for coming in this morning.
Host Rachel Martin speaks with McKenna Barlow, Martin's cousin by marriage, and a veteran of the U.S. Army National Guard, for StoryCorps' National Day of Listening. Barlow served in Iraq from 2003 to 2004, and recalls the difficulties of being one of the few women in her unit.
Host Rachel Martin speaks to W.R. Wilkerson III about the infamous 1947 Hollywood Blacklist. Wilkerson is the son of Billy Wilkerson, who was publisher of The Hollywood Reporter from 1930 to 1962 and supported the blacklist through the trade paper. Wilkerson III has written a formal apology for his father's role in the controversy 65 years later.
The mortar and pestle can be found in kitchens around the world, including Thailand. In the United States, chef Tanasapamon Rohman uses the tool to grind up chili paste and pulverize rice at her Thai restaurant.
Chefs these days stock all sorts of high-tech tools, from liquid nitrogen to $500 blenders. But in kitchens throughout the world, there's one piece of technology that's been the same since the Stone Age: the mortar and pestle.
Time has a way of condensing major historical events into a few key moments, with one-dimensional, legendary figures at the forefront. In his new book, author and archivist Todd Andrlik gives life and depth to one such event — the American Revolution. He uses newspaper reporting from that era to provide a sense of the Revolution as it actually unfolded.
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks during a news conference in the Capitol on Nov. 9. Boehner has said Republican House leaders and Obama "can find the common ground" on immigration policy.
Voters in Spain's northern region of Catalonia go to the polls Sunday in a parliamentary election that is shaping up as an unofficial referendum on secession. The current Catalan president has pledged to pursue a move toward independence if re-elected.
The region, which holds 8 million people, is the country's industrial engine. Catalans are resentful that their taxes are being siphoned off for poorer regions. The prospect of secession is opposed both by the Madrid government and the European Union.
Congolese flee the eastern town of Sake, just west of Goma, on Friday. Fighting between rebel and government forces in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo has displaced at least 100,000 people.
Credit John Burnett / NPR
Tariq Riebl, Oxfam humanitarian coordinator in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, meets refugees at the Don Bosco Catholic School, where thousands of displaced persons are setting up camp.
The rebel movement in the Democratic Republic of Congo has set off another humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands of displaced villagers who fled the fighting are on the march with their belongings, and someone has to take care of them.
Into this sea of need wades Tariq Riebl, a tall 34-year-old German with a shaved head. He is the humanitarian program coordinator for the international charity Oxfam in the rebel-held city of Goma.
"Basically, what we're going to do, we have two teams," Riebl says.
Originally published on Sun November 25, 2012 10:42 am
In all of American history, only one woman has been awarded the Medal of Honor — and Congress tried to take it back.
Her name was Mary Edwards Walker, and she was a doctor at a time when female physicians were rare. She graduated from the Syracuse Medical College, and at the outbreak of the Civil War traveled to Washington with the intention of joining the Army as a medical officer. When she was rejected, she volunteered as a surgeon and served in that capacity for various units through the war years, continually agitating for a commission.
On-air challenge: Every answer consists of a made-up two-word phrase in which the first word starts with CH, and the second word is pronounced the same as the first except with an SH sound. (The spelling may or may not change.) For example, given the clue "some Central African fish," the answer would be "Chad shad."
Walk through downtown Chicago and you experience modern architecture to its fullest. There's the Auditorium Building by Louis Sullivan, the Federal Center by Mies van der Rohe and Marina City by Bertrand Goldberg — two towers made even more famous after starring on an album cover by the Chicago band Wilco.
Originally published on Sat November 24, 2012 4:26 pm
JACKI LYDEN, HOST:
It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden. Guy Raz is away.
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi stunned the nation by announcing an extraordinary set of new presidential powers Thursday that essentially nullifies judicial oversight. His critics say that for now, he has unchecked power.
We'll take a look at what this means for the democracy movement in Egypt in a minute. But first, let's get the latest from NPR's Leila Fadel, who's in Cairo. Hi there, Leila. Thanks for joining us.
Mary Alice LeGrow, otherwise known as "Princess Marty," hugs a young girl during a birthday party in a Philadelphia suburb. A graphic artist and "cosplay" (costume play) fanatic, LeGrow became a full-time professional party princess to make ends meet during the economic downturn.
Princess Marty says the most important thing a princess has to do is smile and be in character — always.
"You can never ruin it for a child, even if you're coming home from work ... and you're in your big dress," she says. "If a child sees you, you have to be a princess for them. You can't say, 'Sorry kid, I'm off the clock.' "
Her highness — known outside the big dress as Mary Alice LeGrow — is a professional party princess. She uses her best princess voice and dresses up in full regalia to charm children.
Originally published on Sat November 24, 2012 4:26 pm
JACKI LYDEN, HOST:
I'm joined now by Professor Samer Shehata, professor of Middle East politics at Georgetown University. Welcome to you.
SAMER SHEHATA: Thank you.
LYDEN: So Mohammed Morsi was widely praised for his role in negotiating the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas this last week. And now he appears to be playing the same role on the international stage as his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, and I mean by that, being an autocrat at home while being an international statesman.
The Department of Homeland Security is examining its policy on deadly force along the U.S.-Mexico border. In less than two years, U.S. Border Patrol agents have killed 18 Mexican citizens there — including eight people who were throwing rocks.
What do you do if you're an aspiring drummer and someone steals your drum set? Well, if you're Piney Gir, you become a singer — because, as she figured it, they can't steal your voice.
Gir grew up in a fundamentalist Pentecostal household in Kansas, attending church four or five times a week. She got the solos in the choir and grew to love performing. The singer, whose real name is Angela Penhaligon, eventually found her way to London and the world of indie art-rock.
Originally published on Sat November 24, 2012 12:48 pm
Paloma Faith has been described as smart, vivacious, red-streaked and a singular talent. Before breaking into the music business, Faith worked as a magician's assistant and a dancer. She debuted as a solo artist in the UK in 2009 with the album Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful? Her latest album is no less provocatively titled — it's called Fall to Grace.