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Arts/Life

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I was in the mood for reading "lite" this week. It was a nice fleeting thought. Instead, I took a detour because I got curious about Daniel Magariel's slim debut novel, One of the Boys, which is adorned with raves from writers who mostly don't generate such blurbs.

I found myself reading the novel in one still afternoon. A slim, deeply affecting and brutal story, One of the Boys is about the fierce power of a father-son relationship, which, in these pages, all but grinds a young boy to a pulp.

Bob Dylan will be accepting his Nobel Prize in literature this weekend, according to the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy. In a blog post Tuesday, Sara Danius announced the "good news" that members of the academy will be meeting with Dylan when he makes a tour stop in Stockholm.

Jim Harrison lived as he wrote, vividly. When his overtaxed heart finally gave out last year, he left a trail of 40 books, mainly fiction and poetry, in which he conveyed his untamed passions for booze, botany, sex, hunting, fishing and literature. His deep empathy for America's disenfranchised was matched by his overarching intolerance of small-minded "nit-wit authorities." He has been compared to Hemingway and Faulkner, and called the American Rabelais, a Mozart of the Prairie, and a force of nature.

I have always found it difficult to explain my family's syncretic faith traditions to both white Americans and to other South Asians. We are Hindu Sindhis, originating from an area around the Indus River, in what is now modern southeast Pakistan. On our home altar, familiar Hindu idols — Lakshmi, Ganesh, Krishna — share space with images of the 10 Sikh gurus and Jhulelal. Jhulelal, a river deity, is not only the patron saint of Hindu Sindhis, but is also revered by Sufi Muslims.

Quick quiz: What do Judy Garland's rendition of "Over the Rainbow," N.W.A's seminal Straight Outta Compton and the inaugural episode of NPR's All Things Considered have in common?

That little riddle just got a little easier to answer on Wednesday: The Library of Congress announced that all three "aural treasures" — along with roughly two dozen other recordings — have been inducted into its National Recording Registry.

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Pinkies Up! A Local Tea Movement Is Brewing

Mar 28, 2017

On Saturday mornings, the most popular item Minto Island Growers sells at its farmers market booth is not the certified organic carrots, kale or blueberries. It's tea.

The farm grows Camellia sinensis, tea plants, on a half-acre plot in Salem, Ore. The tender leaves are hand picked and hand processed to make 100 pounds of organic, small batch tea.

The choices you make in the face of desperation, the morality of violent resistance to injustice, the ever-widening chasm of social inequality: Victor Hugo's novel Les Misérables is unquestionably relevant today. Hugo himself said, "I do not know if it will be read by all, but I wrote it for everyone." But at around 1,500 pages, the book's sheer size may intimidate some readers — even devoted fans refer to it as "the brick."

With his large-scale, exuberant paintings, artist Kerry James Marshall is on a mission: to make the presence of black people and black culture in the art world "indispensable" and "undeniable." Now 61, Marshall was a young artist when he decided to paint exclusively black figures.

"One of the reasons I paint black people is because I am a black person ..." he says. "There are fewer representations of black figures in the historical record ..."

For-profit colleges have faced federal and state investigations in recent years for their aggressive recruiting tactics — accusations that come as no surprise to author Tressie McMillan Cottom.

Readers may remember Emma Donoghue for her blockbuster novel Room — the one about a happy little boy growing up in horrifying conditions: Born into captivity. Mom abducted.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

"I'm not saying it's proper or right to love a student, and I'm not going to pretend I never did anything about it, because I did, but I can say I didn't do much," says the narrator of Deb Olin Unferth's title story, "Wait Till You See Me Dance."

"All I did was to bring the office assistant to the dance and threaten to kill her."

Unferth knows how to change direction. Her absurd and tender story collection is full of sentences like clear glass doors, and you, reader, are the bird.

Looking at Claire Rosen's photographs can feel like walking into someone else's dreams. One of her images shows a young girl about to be dragged into the sky by a pack of flying toy horses. Another series shows horses, hedgehogs, cockatoos and camels posed before different sumptuous feasts, as if having their own last suppers.

Christina Ricci's film career began early — at just 10 years old, she played the adorably malevolent Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family. From there, she went on to play fascinating and often dark and damaged characters, making a name for herself as an actress who could tap into complex roles.

Duncan Hines, traveling salesman and future purveyor of boxed cake mix, considered himself an authority on a great many things: hot coffee, Kentucky country-cured ham and how to locate a tasty restaurant meal, in 1935, for under a dollar and a quarter.

By the 1950s, Hines' name would be plastered on boxes of cake mix; housewives would turn to his products for consistent quality and superior taste. Newspaper photographs featured Hines clad in a white chef's apron, hoisting a neatly frosted cake or thoughtfully dipping a spoon into a mixing bowl.

Tale As Old As Time: The Dark Appeal of 'Beauty And The Beast'

Mar 26, 2017

In the introduction of Beauty and the Beast: Classic Tales of Animal Brides and Grooms, Maria Tatar talks about how to classify a fairy tale using the Aarne-Thompson system. Developed and refined since the early 20th century, it's a massive taxonomy that cross-references our fundamental stories by subplots and themes.

Charley Pride, one of the first African-American stars in country music, has sold more records for RCA than anyone not named Elvis Presley. Since Pride has a lot to be proud of, we're going to quiz him on shame — three questions about people who've made big mistakes. Click the listen link above to hear how he does.

Washington, D.C.'s Capital City Public Charter School feels like a mini United Nations. Many of the school's 981 students are first-generation Americans with backgrounds spanning the globe, from El Salvador to Nigeria to Vietnam. So when the staff of the literacy non-profit 826DC began a book-publishing project with the junior class, they picked a topic everyone could relate to that also left room for cultural expression: food.

If you're a fan of The Americans, you probably have strong feelings about Alison Wright's character, Martha. Poor, loving, trusting Martha had to be smuggled out of the U.S. because she married a man who was no good for her — a man who turned out to be a Russian spy.

'Girl In Disguise' Is A Spunky Spy Saga

Mar 25, 2017

Pluck. Kate Warne, the heroine of Greer Macallister's detective romp, Girl in Disguise, personifies the attribute (I hear an echo here of Mr. Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, informing Mary she has "spunk," before dropping the other shoe. "I hate spunk.") Warne was in real life the first woman hired by the famed Pinkerton National Detective Agency, back in 1856 — and in this historical novel, she sets herself immediately to solving the crime of what took them so long.

It's hardly unusual for athletes, both amateur and professional, to have pregame rituals. But the NBA's peculiar commitment to one grade-school snack goes deep: ESPN Magazine calls the PB&J sandwich the league's "secret addiction."

"In every NBA locker room, you'll see a variety of different foods on the table, but PB&J — if there's a locker room that doesn't have it, I haven't seen it," ESPN reporter Baxter Holmes tells Scott Simon.

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

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

A Food Festival Celebrates The Rebirth Of Jewish Life In Berlin

Mar 24, 2017

Inside a Berlin bookstore on a recent Friday night, an unusual scene unfolded. Thirty people sat around a long table, sharing Israeli-Moroccan dishes like matbucha (a side of roasted red peppers and tomatoes), ptitim (a toasted pasta shaped in little balls) and a modern twist on the traditional challah or egg bread — a vegan one filled with dry fruits, quinoa, herbs and pomegranate juice.

Tale as old as tiiiiiiime ...

By which, of course, I mean "tired people return from South By Southwest."

But in any event: this week's show kicks off with a discussion with our pal Katie Presley of Bitch Media about the live-action version of Disney's Beauty And The Beast. How are the candlesticks? How's the new music? And, as Katie wonders, is there adequate eroticism within the Beast, compared to the cartoon Beast who set Katie's young heart aflutter so many years ago? And what's the Les Miz-iest part of the Beast's new tune, anyway?

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Painfully Funny.

About Kevin Breel's TED Talk

The image of the "sad clown" can seem like a cliche. But for Kevin Breel, it's very real. He describes how he struggled with depression while performing as a standup comedian.

About Kevin Breel

Negin Farsad: Can Humor Fight Prejudice?

Mar 24, 2017

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Painfully Funny.

About Negin Farsad's TED Talk

Comedian Negin Farsad traveled all over the U.S. to clear up misconceptions about Islam while making people laugh. She calls this form of activism "social justice comedy."

About Negin Farsad

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Painfully Funny.

About Maysoon Zayid's TED Talk

Maysoon Zayid teases herself for all the ways she's different: she has cerebral palsy, she's Muslim, she's Palestinian. By making us laugh at it, she gets us to think about acceptance.

About Maysoon Zayid

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