Arts/Life

Arts and culture

Superpowers Meet The Supernatural In 'Wayward'

3 hours ago

Ever heard of a tengu? How about a jorōgumo? You'll know them after you read Wayward, Image Comics' action-packed romp featuring Tokyo teenagers fighting the supernatural. It's been likened to a Japanese version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and its emphasis on epically battling the Big Bad (to use the Buffy term) is coupled with a determination to get its monsters right.

'Sorcerer' Is A Delightful Romp With Deep, Solid Roots

6 hours ago

There are several ways in which Zen Cho's Sorcerer to the Crown invites comparison with Susanna Clarke's best-selling, BBC-adapted Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell: It features squabbling English magicians, a Regency setting, and a mysterious decline in English magic attributed at least in part to difficult relations with capricious fairies.

Actor Dean Jones, who starred in The Love Bug, That Darn Cat! and other classic Walt Disney movies, has died at age 84. In addition to his film work, Jones played the role of Bobby in the original Broadway cast of Stephen Sondheim's Company in 1970.

Jones died in Los Angeles on Tuesday, according to his publicist, Richard Hoffman. The cause of death is reportedly related to Parkinson's disease.

In 1938, an Austrian pediatrician named Hans Asperger gave the first public talk on autism in history. Asperger was speaking to an audience of Nazis, and he feared that his patients — children who fell onto what we now call the autism spectrum — were in danger of being sent to Nazi extermination camps.

As Asperger spoke, he highlighted his "most promising" patients, a notion that would stick with the autistic spectrum for decades to come.

About two-thirds of the way through Jonathan Franzen's big new novel, Purity, we're told about an "ambitious project" conceived by a young artist named Anabel. Anabel finds it strange that people can go through their lives without "having made the most basic acquaintance with [their bodies] ...

'Twelve Kings' Launches A Bold New Fantasy World

Sep 2, 2015

Despite numerous, valiant efforts over the past few years to broaden the palette of epic fantasy, the genre still has a default setting: some fictionalized version of medieval Europe. Add Bradley P. Beaulieu's new novel, Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, to the growing list of proud exceptions. Set in a world covered by desert and lit by twin moons, Twelve Kings includes Islamic and Ancient Egyptian influences among its fabulist mix of cultures.

Spoiler alert: Terry Pratchett's final novel begins with the death of one of his toughest and best-developed characters.

With a title like Purity, Jonathan Franzen's latest novel sets the reader up for great expectations, and how. What Franzen does well in every novel is to tell a sprawling story with a robust and intimately rendered casts of characters. At the outset of this one, we meet Pip (hello, Charles Dickens), a recent college graduate who is clever and ambitious, but aimless.

The Naples in Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels isn't the Italy you see on postcards. The neighborhood she describes in vivid detail is poor and unglamorous — and it may or may not be based on the neighborhood where she herself grew up. Ferrante is actually a pen name and very little is known about the true identity of the author. She does almost no publicity, but that hasn't stopped the books from achieving cult status. Her latest, The Story of the Lost Child, comes out on Tuesday.

Trying to divine what the future holds is an ancient human preoccupation. And for centuries, soothsayers have sought answers in the bottom of a teacup.

Amy Taylor was 18 when she stumbled into the practice of reading tea leaves. Now 46 and a professional tea-leaf reader, she remembers looking into her stepsister's teacup at a Toronto restaurant, and saying, "Oh, that's funny, that looks like a tree." She says she looked at all of her family's cups that night, and saw things in all of them. "I just thought that was really odd," she says.

For novelist Jonathan Franzen, writing isn't just an escape from himself, it's an "escape from everything." He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross: "It's like having this dream that you can go back to, kind of on demand. When it's really going well ... you're in a fantasy land and feeling no pain."

It might seem odd to be reading about an old-fashioned farmstead shootout and thinking about how charming it is, but if you're reading Girl Waits With Gun, you might as well get used to it. You'll be thinking that a lot, because the women holding down this particular farmstead are Constance, Norma, and Fleurette Kopp, who handle the battle with grim panache. Though they're under fire, Constance's narrative voice is endlessly pragmatic and authoritative: Neither stray internal monologue nor enemy bullets will be permitted.

The title tells all: Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World. Author Linda Hirshman's joint biography of the first and second women to serve on the nation's highest court is a gossipy, funny, sometimes infuriating and moving tale of two women so similar and yet so different.

Sandra Day O'Connor, raised on a Western ranch and a lifelong Republican who cut her political teeth as majority leader of the Arizona Senate, was named to the Supreme Court by President Reagan in 1981.

Texas has a barbecue joint known as much for the line of people waiting outside as for its tender brisket.

At Franklin Barbecue in Austin, people start lining up around 5 a.m., waiting six hours, chatting with others in line until the restaurant opens at 11 a.m.

This barbecue place is such a big deal that entrepreneurs like Desmond Roldan are cashing in on its fans.

"People know me. I'm a big deal," he says, chuckling.

If, like me, you're an amateur taster of beer and wine, inevitably you've asked yourself why you don't taste that hint of raspberry or note of pine bark that someone else says is there.

He was called the Sultan of Shock and the Guru of Gore: Wes Craven, who died Sunday, directed dozens of now-classic horror movies, including A Nightmare on Elm Street and all of the Scream films.

Scream, from 1996, is an expert parody of horror movies, filled with inside jokes — like the girl alone in the house who gets a phone call that's coming from closer than she thinks. Writer Kevin Williamson made it funny. Craven made it scary.

Wayne Dyer, the writer, philosopher and motivational speaker who encouraged millions of people to look at their lives in a new way, died this weekend at age 75. Over four decades, Dyer sought to motivate people to explore their passions and turn away from negativity.

Dyer died late Saturday in Maui, according to his publisher, Hay House.

Neurologist Oliver Sacks, who died Sunday, once described himself as an "old Jewish atheist," but during the decades he spent studying the human brain, he sometimes found himself recording experiences that he likened to a godly cosmic force.

Such was the case once when Sacks tried marijuana in the 1960s: He was looking at his hand, and it appeared to be retreating from him, yet getting larger and larger.

Will Smith from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was my first American friend. Ours was an unlikely friendship: a shy Indian kid, fresh off the boat, with big glasses and a thick accent, and a high school b-ball player from West Philadelphia, chillin' out maxin' and relaxin' all cool. And yet, I was with Will all the way, unnerved when he accidentally gave Carlton speed, shaken when he got shot in Season 5, and deeply embarrassed every time he wiped out in front of Veronica.

Teenagers often feel bound by their parents' rules, and many young people feel isolated at some point, separated from the rest of the world.

But what would life be like for a young woman who was literally isolated — and bound by rules designed to save her life?

It's a question that author Nicola Yoon explores in her new novel for young adults, Everything, Everything. For 18 years, her lead character, Madeleine, has been kept inside a sterile house, interacting only with her mother and her nurse.

As part of a series called My Big Break, All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

Patty Wagstaff performs incredible maneuvers in her small aerobatic airplane: rolls, loops and spins. She'll fly straight up, put the engine in idle, free-fall down, fire the engine back up and roar past crowds at air shows across the country.

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.

Oliver Sacks, the famed neurologist and best-selling author of books such as The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, died of cancer today in New York City at the age of 82, a longtime friend and colleague has confirmed.

The London-born academic's 1973 memoir Awakenings, about his efforts to use the drug L-Dopa to bring patients who survived the 1917-1928 encephalitis epidemic out of their persistent catatonic state, was turned into a 1990 Hollywood film starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro. He was the author of a dozen other books.

A lot of books come across our desks here at Weekend Edition. One caught our eye recently, because of the unusual way it came to be published. The title sums up the story — Underground in Berlin: A Young Woman's Extraordinary Tale of Survival in the Heart of Nazi Germany.

That remarkable tale came to light thanks to a request by her son, historian Hermann Simon. "I once put a tape recorder and said to her, 'You always wanted to tell me the story of your life. Well, go ahead.' "

Presenting: The Holy Romance Trinity Of J

Aug 30, 2015

I migrated to digital books years ago, but I hold on to eight yellow, tattered paperbacks with spines so bent, my Lego snowboarder could use them as a half-pipe. They're what I call the Holy Romance Trinity of J: Jude Deveraux, Julie Garwood, and Judith McNaught. They weren't the first romance authors I read, but I love their books so much, I refuse to part with them. Even though each cover has long since parted from the pages, these books will never, ever leave my possession.

Fishing lore is full of tales about "the one that got away," and fishermen have been known to exaggerate the size of their catch. The bragging problem is apparently so bad, Texas even has a law on the books that makes lying about the size or provenance of a fish caught in a tournament an offense that could come with a felony charge.

It's been a big year for German filmmaker Wim Wenders: He received a lifetime achievement award at this year's Berlin International Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art had a retrospective of his work and his latest Oscar-nominated documentary, The Salt of the Earth, came out in March.

This is a story of American ingenuity and entrepreneurship. It is the story of the meat straw. Yes, you read that right.

"It is a straw made out of pork," explains Ben Hirko of Coralville, Iowa, the man behind Benny's Original Meat Straws.

It's a half-inch in diameter, the same length as a standard plastic straw. And it has a hole running down the middle of it, through which you're meant to slurp up Bloody Marys.

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.

Pages