Many of my all-time favorite novels have a common (if slightly unsettling) thread: They feature an unreliable narrator at the helm. The term was popularized in the 1960s by the literary critic Wayne C. Booth, but the unreliable narrator herself has been around at least as long as the Wife of Bath in The Canterbury Tales. An unreliable narrator is one who tells a tale with compromised credibility, whether the narrator herself understands that or not. The reader usually finds this out only slowly, as cracks in the narrator's version of events begin to appear.
Political commentators will be working overtime in the countdown to the presidential election. So will political comedians, including the candidates' impersonators.
Impersonators have been part of the political landscape for so long, it's hard to imagine a time without them: Rich Little, Dana Carvey, Will Ferrell, Dan Aykroyd, Darrell Hammond, Tina Fey and other comedians have all famously done their turns as candidates. Remember "I can see Russia from my house"?
One issue that has received little attention in this year's presidential race is the war in Afghanistan. But according to Thomas E. Ricks, we should be paying attention — specifically to those in charge of the military there, because they can make the difference between long, expensive wars and decisive victories. That's the lesson Ricks explores in his latest book, The Generals.
Translation is everywhere — that's is the crux of a new book by Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche: Found in Translation: How Language Shapes Our Lives and Transforms our World.
From NASA to the U.N. to Chinese tattoo parlors, the book looks high and low for stories of the undeniable importance of language. One of those stories centers on a man named Peter Less, 91, an inspiration of sorts to interpreters and translators everywhere.
Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 12:37 pm
Back in the 1700s, there was a young printer's apprentice who lived in Boston. His name was Isaiah Thomas and he became one of the first newspaper publishers in the country. He also founded the American Antiquarian Society, which celebrates its 200th birthday this week.
Located in Worcester, Mass., the American Antiquarian Society houses the largest collection of materials printed in the United States. Its library has books, newspapers, letters, even board games dating from 1640 to 1876. Its members include some notable characters, including 14 presidents.
Hitting theaters this week is an epic story of good and evil, love and loss, failure and redemption ... Pac-Man ghosts and Cy-Bugs? Wreck-It Ralph is about video games and the characters who live in them.
Ralph is the villain who runs around smashing windows and destroying buildings. Fix-It Felix is the good guy with the golden hammer who cleans up Ralph's mess. And after 30 years as a video-game bad guy, Ralph is fed up with his job. Actor John C. Reilly, who does Ralph's voice, says grown-up audiences may be attracted to what is, essentially, a mid-life crisis.
On-air challenge: Every answer is a three-word phrase, in which each word has four letters. All three words end in the same three letters, and they rhyme. For example, given the clue, "Series of offerings of excellent chardonnays and Rieslings," the answer would be "fine wine line."
Last week's challenge from Pierre Berloquin: What letter comes next in this series: W, L, C, N, I, T?
Jessica Chastain makes her Broadway debut as Catherine Sloper in The Heiress. Chastain says she was moved by the arc of her character's story — initially defined by the men in her life, but ultimately finding strength in herself.
Credit (c) 2012 Joan Marcus
A revival of The Heiress, a 1947 play based on the Henry James novella Washington Square, opens at the Walter Kerr Theatre in New York on Nov. 1. It stars (from left) Judith Ivey, Dan Stevens, David Strathairn and Jessica Chastain.
Credit (c) 2012 Joan Marcus
Dan Stevens — Matthew Crawley on the hit TV show Downton Abbey — plays Morris Townsend, Sloper's passionate but penniless suitor.
A much-anticipated revival of The Heiress, a 1947 play based on the Henry James novella Washington Square, opens in New York on Thursday. It marks the Broadway debut of two accomplished young stars — Jessica Chastain, the Academy Award nominee from The Help, and Dan Stevens, from the hit television series Downton Abbey.
Andersen's three felonies and difficult past are used as creative fodder in Lemon.
Credit Cinema Libre
Poet, actor and three-time felon Lemon Andersen thought he had escaped his troubled past when he embraced poetry and won a Tony Award. But the new documentary Lemon explores how he got drawn back into the hustle.
His story begins a decade ago in Brooklyn, where he grew up fighting in New York's public housing before discovering another kind of power. After three felony convictions and time served at Rikers Island, Lemon Andersen didn't have many places to turn except to his words. Now he's a Tony Award winner with a rave-reviewed one-man show called County of Kings.
He spoke with weekends on All Things Considered guest host Jacki Lyden about his life and the new independent documentary film about it, called simply, Lemon.
Thornton Wilder works in a Berlin hotel in 1931. His titles include the plays Our Town (1938) and The Skin of Our Teeth (1942), as well as the novels Heaven's My Destination (1935) and The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927).
Credit Louis Kapeleris / HarperCollins
Penelope Niven has also authored biographies of poet Carl Sandburg and photographer Edward Steichen.
Originally published on Sat October 27, 2012 10:55 am
It's almost certain that during this NFL season, you'll see a player from a place that's called Muck City.
There are five graduates from Belle Glade, Fla., in the NFL right now. Belle Glade, on the shore of Lake Okeechobee, is surrounded by black soil, also known as the "muck" that's renowned for growing sweet corn, vegetables and sugar cane.
Over the past generation, Belle Glade Central High School has sent 30 players onto the NFL. The school is proud of that record, but it may have come at a cost.
Since Wambach sounds kind of like wombat, we figure Abby should know everything about the cuddly marsupials. We've invited her to play a game called "You're good at soccer, but can you carry your young in a pouch?" Our quiz will take about four minutes ... and will probably have more scoring than 90 minutes of soccer.
Wambach is a multiple gold medalist, holds the best goals-per-game ratio in U.S. soccer history and has just been nominated for FIFA Women's World Player of the Year.
David Mitchell's epic philosophical novel Cloud Atlas was widely considered unfilmable — even by its author — when it came out in 2004. That's because the book's ornate structure, with stories nested inside stories across five centuries, seemed too complicated to be taken in quickly in a movie. But those complications were what attracted The Matrix's Andy and Lana (nee Larry) Wachowski, and Run Lola Run's Tom Tykwer to the project. Turning complexity into cineplexity is kind of what they do.
A young mother sets sail from Ireland after the potato famine to meet her husband in Canada; two gold prospectors seek their fortune in the frozen Yukon; a slave poisons his master and the master's wife escapes with him.