Arts/Life

Arts and culture

Taking chances can sometimes lead to great art. But award-winning poet Carl Phillips says there's a risk to, well, taking risks.

"I think there has to be a place for risk and for restlessness in any kind of fully lived life, and especially I think for an artist," he tells NPR's Arun Rath. "I think it's the only way that imagination gets stimulated and continues — but I think it can easily go unchecked."

His latest work, Reconnaissance, looks for the balance between restlessness and stability — and between the raw and the refined, the omnicient and the intimate.

Ursula Le Guin has brought mainstream recognition to science fiction in a successful career that has endured for sixty years, with books that include The Left Hand of Darkness, Lavinia, and the Earthsea series for young readers.

Stories within stories: It's a structure as old as, well, storytelling itself. In the Western canon alone, everything from The Canterbury Tales to Hamlet to Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities has played with the idea of nesting narratives within each other. Speculative fiction authors such as Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman have been just as apt to stuff stories into stories, often to marvelous effect.

Making Sense Of A Tragedy, One Narrator At A Time

12 hours ago

There will come a point while reading Did You Ever Have A Family, the debut novel by agent and memoirist Bill Clegg, that you will want to put it down. To leave it aside for shinier, prettier, less complicated things.

One of history's greatest engineering feats is one you rarely hear of. It's the Inca Road, parts of which still exist today across much of South America.

Back in the day — more than 500 years ago — commoners like me wouldn't have been able to walk on the Inca Road, known as Qhapaq Ñan in the Quechua language spoken by the Inca, without official permission.

It was years ago that TV critic Alan Sepinwall said something to me that I've remembered ever since and that he doesn't remember saying: that writing about television was shifting its focus from what is said before shows are on to what is said after shows are on. It made sense to me, since my career writing about TV started with writing recaps of shows I used an actual VCR to record. With tapes. I didn't get screeners, I didn't get advances — I just taped things, and then I wrote about them. I think now, that shift is so obvious that it's taken for granted.

Five-plus years into the history of PCHH, this is the first time we've found ourselves recording a full episode with just three of us — in this case me, Stephen and Glen. We gathered this week to talk about the HBO miniseries Show Me A Hero, which I previously reviewed on the blog over here.

If you're tuned into the world of beer, you may be aware of sour beers — a loosely defined style that has been made for centuries but is gaining fresh appreciation in today's craft beer renaissance. Brewers make these beers by deliberately adding bacteria and, sometimes, wild yeast to the brew, then letting them age slowly. It sounds weird, but sours can be delicious — tart and earthy, and redolent of things like leather, fruit and wood.

It might be considered nosey to thumb through someone else's little black address book, but that doesn't bother Mary Savig, curator of manuscripts at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art. "It is very nosey and that's why I really enjoy doing it," she says.

The "Little Black Books" of some major and minor American artists are currently on view in a show at the Archives of American Art in Washington, D.C.

It's tough to imagine a time when this country wasn't struggling with cocaine brought into the U.S. from Latin America, and the violence that often accompanies it. But when Netflix's new series Narcos introduces us to brash Colombian smuggler Pablo Escobar, it's the late 1970s and Escobar is busy with other contraband.

Without a second's hesitation, Alex Ross Perry's Queen of Earth dives right into its heroine's lowest moment, in medias res. The camera stays close to Catherine's face, as smears of mascara frame eyes alight with pain, anger and exhaustion; this has been going on a while and we're just seeing the end of it. Her boyfriend is breaking up with her, which is awful enough, but the timing makes it worse: She's still reeling from the death of her father, an artist who mentored her, and now the two central figures in her life are gone.

If you want to measure a society's political health, two films from Latin America slyly suggest, look at how it treats the help. Sebastian Silva's gleeful 2009 black comedy, The Maid, drew on his own experience as the cosseted son of a well-to-do Chilean family propped up by its housekeeper. Brazilian filmmaker Anna Muylaert began writing her new film, The Second Mother, two decades ago, when she hired a nanny to care for her first child.

In the climactic development of We Are Your Friends, a Los Angeles DJ has a breakthrough. Cole (Zac Efron) constructs a dance track from sampled sounds of his recent life, including zippers, staple-guns and remarks by the Girl Who Got Away and the Friend Who Died. Both the song and the scene are preposterous, but the autobiographical audio-collage neatly exemplifies the movie, an intermittently engaging medley of genres, moods and intentions.

Paul Kingsnorth's new novel, The Wake — a grim tale of medieval conquest and revenge — became a hit against all odds in the U.K. last year, and it's about to be released in the U.S.

I met Kingsnorth at his home in the countryside of far western Ireland. He and his wife grow their own food and home-school their two young kids. "I think we'll get bees and chickens, we hope, maybe something else," he told me, calling out to his daughter. "Lela, you want an alpaca, don't you? Lela wants an alpaca or a donkey or anything fluffy, really."

No one has ever written about having a body the way Alexandra Kleeman does.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is one in a series of essays running last week and this week about the state of television in 2015. The series is based on developments at the recent Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., where broadcast and cable networks, along with streaming services like Netflix, presented new and existing shows to TV critics and reporters. The entire series is available here.

George is 10, loves to read and has a best friend named Kelly. Everyone thinks George is a boy, but she doesn't feel like one.

Lisbeth Salander is back. The latest book featuring the infamous girl with the dragon tattoo is being published internationally today, and will be out next week here in the U.S. But this fourth book in the Millennium series has a new author — the man who created Salander, Stieg Larsson, died before the books were published, and never had a chance to see how popular they would be.

On The Double

Aug 26, 2015

We double dare you to try your hand at this final round-- every answer contains the word "double."

Heard in Uzo Aduba: Sister Versus Sister

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Cooking The Books

Aug 26, 2015

Not all cookbooks are actually about food. Play along and mash up the titles of famous books with various delicacies. Who could forget Truman Capote's classic novel, In Cold Blood Sausage?

Heard in Uzo Aduba: Sister Versus Sister

Sister Versus Sister

Aug 26, 2015

Uzo Aduba and her sister Chioma revisit their childhoods with a game about '80s TV show theme songs. The winner gets to watch TV after dinner!

Heard in Uzo Aduba: Sister Versus Sister

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Take Me To This River

Aug 26, 2015

In this game, Jonathan Coulton sings Al Green's classic Take Me to the River to be about, you guessed it, various rivers of the world. Somehow, we made a geography game fun and exciting!

Heard in Uzo Aduba: Sister Versus Sister

Random Questions With: Uzo Aduba

Aug 26, 2015

Uzo Aduba quit acting the same day she was offered the role of Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren on Netflix's Orange is the New Black. "I had gone for an audition for another show, and I was late," Aduba told host Ophira Eisenberg on the Ask Me Another stage in Brooklyn. "I remember thinking, 'That went really well, but you were late. This is God telling you [acting] is not for you.'" A couple hours later, her agent called to tell her if she wanted the role of Crazy Eyes, it was hers. And it's a good thing, too.

Top Of The Morning

Aug 26, 2015

We can't blame our contestants for struggling with this tricky game. A toponym is a word derived from a geographical place name, like "champagne" or "sandwich" — play along as we ask them to identify other (lesser-known) toponyms.

Heard in Uzo Aduba: Sister Versus Sister

Hello Little Friend

Aug 26, 2015

In the classic scene from Scarface, Al Pacino's little friend is a grenade launcher. In this game, it might be any number of things that rhyme with "fren'" (if we're being accent-picky). Say hello to our female chicken!

Heard in Uzo Aduba: Sister Versus Sister

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is one in a series of essays running last week and this week about the state of television in 2015. The series is based on developments at the recent Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., where broadcast and cable networks, along with streaming services like Netflix, presented new and existing shows to TV critics and reporters. The entire series is available here.

If the detective was the defining pop hero of the 20th century, in the 21st, it's the hacker. From The Matrix to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — not to mention Julian Assange and Edward Snowden — hackers have become inescapable.

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