Arts/Life

Arts and culture

Like many romance readers I have a list of authors whose new releases are always on my shopping list. But this winter I've been looking for new (to me) novels that reflect the people I see around me. I wanted to read books by authors of color. I also looked for interracial relationships, protagonists from different cultures, and class differences without power imbalances (the Women of Color in Romance website was a great resource). Here are a few that I found.

Dr. Paul Kalanithi was preparing to wrap up his medical residency in neurosurgery when, in 2013, a CT scan revealed tumors throughout his body. He had stage IV lung cancer.

In his last two years of life, he continued caring for patients. He and his wife became parents. And Kalanithi, a gifted writer, wrote a book, When Breath Becomes Air, a reflection on being a doctor with a terminal illness.

He died March 9, 2015. He was 37 years old.

Just ahead of Valentine's Day, we visited the tomb of a poet who wrote often of love.

The 14th century Persian poet Hafez is buried in Shiraz, the city where he lived almost 700 years ago. He remains venerated in Iran, even though he wrote of romance and other topics that are not obviously embraced in the modern-day Islamic Republic.

One of his lines: "Oh Cup-bearer, set my glass afire with the light of wine!"

Marvel's new superhero movie Deadpool stars Ryan Reynolds, a fact that, up to now, would likely not have been considered much of a selling point. This is not, after all, Reynolds' first stint as a superhero. There was that catastrophic Green Lantern movie, his animated supersnail in Turbo, and he played this character very briefly in what's arguably the least of the X-Men movies.

Ready for a quick game of true or false?

In 1987 Donald Trump wrote a business advice book called The Art of the Deal. [TRUE]

That book was a best-seller. [TRUE]

Trump made a TV movie based on the book that was supposed to air but didn't because a football game went into overtime. Years later, director Ron Howard found the movie at a yard sale in Phoenix. [FALSE]

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

All right, so let's play a game. Guess who this is. And if you've seen Quentin Tarantino's film "The Hateful Eight," don't spoil it for the others.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE HATEFUL EIGHT")

Touched With Fire has one of the most audacious dedication screens in recent years. Against a backdrop of Vincent Van Gogh's The Starry Night, a running crawl decrees the film has been made on behalf of the most influential artists of the past several centuries, everyone from Emily Dickinson to Pyotr Tchaikovsky to Virginia Woolf.

Chinese writer-director Jia Zhangke's films are grounded in the reality of his frigid, coal-dusted hometown, Fenyang. But that doesn't mean he's a realist. His complex latest film, Mountains May Depart, begins in Fenyang in 1999 as a stylized romantic melodrama and ends, two chapters later, in a place that's not yet actual: Australia in 2025.

In one of several lovely grace notes in Glassland, a domestic drama from Irish writer-director Gerard Barrett, a handsome young man hands his pretty mother a glass of white wine. They clink, they chug, he watches fondly as she dances alone, they slow-dance together. The sequence is touching rather than erotic, and it repeats later in the film with another kind of poignancy.

Released just two weeks after 9/11—which prompted Roger Ebert, in a one-star review, to offer it as a reason why Americans are hated in some parts of the world (he later apologized)—Ben Stiller's Zoolander found a country in no mood to laugh at its whimsical send-up of fashion-world excess.

Hollywood producer Ross Putman says he's read thousands of scripts during his time working in the film industry in Los Angeles, and over the years, he began to find one pattern particularly problematic: the way female characters are introduced.

Here's a sampling: leggy, attractive, blonde, beautiful, hot, gorgeous, pretty, sexy.

Sure, people fight about superhero movies and sci-fi movies and who was the best James Bond. But if you want to see some deeply felt disagreement, get in a fight about romantic comedies. Or, if you don't care to, just enjoy this Twitter debate I had a couple of weeks ago with actor and comedian Kumail Nanjiani, who has almost as many opinions about such things as I do. (Almost. And I really do think we should have a podcast called "Isn't It Romantic?" where we fight about this weekly, because I think it would take a long time to run out of ideas.)

How Can We Ensure Our Survival As A Species?

18 hours ago

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode To Endure

About Lord Martin Rees' TED Talk

Astronomer and cosmologist Lord Martin Rees asks whether our species will endure despite the many existential threats we face.

About Lord Martin Rees

Lord Martin Rees is an emeritus professor of cosmology and astrophysics at University of Cambridge.

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode To Endure

About Zainab Salbi's TED Talk

Humanitarian Zainab Salbi explains how life continues in the midst of war — and how the ones who "keep life going" are women.

About Zainab Salbi

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode To Endure

About Ben Saunders' TED Talk

Explorer Ben Saunders is the first person to finish the perilous trek from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back. He describes what he had to endure in order to survive the journey.

About Ben Saunders

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode To Endure

About Monica Lewinsky's TED Talk

Following the White House sex scandal of the 1990s, Monica Lewinsky endured public shame and trauma. Now, she is speaking out about it as a way to help others in similar circumstances.

About Monica Lewinsky

Taking A Timeout From Time — It's A Family Thing

Feb 11, 2016

Waldy Tolliver wakes to find himself "excused from time" (excused, as if time were PE class or jury duty). It's 8:47 – it stays 8:47. "Time moves freely around me," he writes from the cramped apartment of his eccentric, dead twin aunts, "gurgling like a whirlpool, fluxing like a quantum field, spinning like a galaxy around its focal hub – at the hub, however, everything is quiet."

Comedian Samantha Bee made her name on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and now her name is on her own show. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee is a weekly, half-hour show that riffs on the news. It premiered Monday on TBS.

Bee is currently the only late night TV host who's a woman, something the show took on from the very beginning:

The National Book Foundation announced Wednesday that it will soon have a new leader at the helm. Lisa Lucas, the 36-year-old publisher of Guernica magazine, is set to become only the third executive director in the history of the foundation, which oversees the annual National Book Awards.

In 1996, when Dominque Dawes became the first black woman to win an individual gymnastics medal at the Atlanta Summer Olympics, critics said her look wasn't quite right.

A new novel takes young readers inside the mind of a 5-year-old fox. Abandoned as a kit, Pax is taken in by Peter, a boy whose mother has died. When Peter's dad joins the military, Peter is forced to send Pax into the wild for the first time. The story — set during wartime in an unidentified time and place — is told from both Peter and Pax's perspectives.

"If you could go back in time and see any band play, what would you choose?" Karl Bender, one of the main characters of Mo Daviau's debut novel Every Anxious Wave, uses this question to lure customers into his incredible new enterprise: Sending music fans through a time-warping wormhole to witness any musical performance in history. Daviau also uses this question to lure readers into her story: A bittersweet, century-hopping odyssey of love, laced with weird science, music geekery, and heart-wrenching laughs.

Growing up in the 1980s, brothers Jay and Mark Duplass weren't into typical family movies. Their friends were enthralled by Star Wars, but Jay tells Fresh Air's Ann Marie Baldonado that he and his brother were more interested in "whatever showed up on HBO," including Kramer vs. Kramer, Sophie's Choice and Hannah and Her Sisters.

This week, the lights go down on another packed house at the Theatre du Chatelet, the gilded19th century theater in Paris whose name has become synonymous with grand American musical productions. The latest hit is Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate, which ends a sold-out 10-day run this Friday.

Author Jesmyn Ward won a National Book Award for Salvage the Bones, her gritty and lyrical novel of Hurricane Katrina-era Mississippi. In this essay, as in all of her work, she doesn't mince words.

Call it a happy ending to a fish-out-of-water story.

Today, a one-of-a-kind, fiberglass shark cast from the same mold as the iconic, mechanical sharks used in the 1975 classic movie, Jaws, is leaving home.

After more than 25 years keeping watch over Aadlen Brothers Auto Wrecking, a junkyard in Sun Valley, Calif., the shark known as Bruce is headed to a museum.

This matters to me. Because the shark and I have a past.

Like many people, I used to be afraid to go in the ocean because of Jaws.

The new novel from Mexican writer Álvaro Enrigue is full of characters you'd recognize, among them Mary Magdalene, the painter Caravaggio and Henry VIII's wife, Anne Boleyn. The book, Sudden Death, begins with a tennis match between Caravaggio and Spanish poet Francisco de Quevedo, played with a ball made from Boleyn's hair. The match is a metaphor for history's imperial forces.

"That's the privilege of the novelist," Enrigue tells NPR's Ari Shapiro. "You can do whatever you want with historical characters."

In a prison hidden in the woods of Berlin, N.H., a group of 20 players are ready to compete for a chess tournament. They will sit in a windowless room engaged in a battle of the mind every Wednesday for five weeks — and one will be crowned the best player.

There are no prizes or trophies, merely a paper certificate for the winner, but for the inmates in this relatively isolated facility, the championship is a big deal.

It's a Saturday night. Five couples sit sipping cocktails and beers. From the kitchen, the smell of ginger, fish oil and lime wafts into the dining room. Chef Josh Haynes is there preparing one of his signature recipes: a red curry of pumpkin and pork rib.

It could be a hip restaurant, except this is Haynes' apartment. In his small living room, with space for only two tables, 10 strangers eat his homemade Thai food.

As the world celebrates one hundred years of dadaism, it is worth looking at how this "anti-art" art movement that started in a café in Zurich during World War I resulted in an iconic artwork involving that most humble object of tableware: the teacup.

In 1936, a 23-year-old Swiss artist named Meret Oppenheim bought a teacup, saucer and spoon from a department store in Paris and wrapped them in the cream-and-tan pelt of a Chinese gazelle. Her hirsute little offering became a defining artifact of surrealism — the art movement that sprang from dadaism's flamboyant entrails.

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