Arts/Life

Arts and culture

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 here.

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.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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

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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.

Sister Versus Sister

21 hours ago

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/.

On The Double

21 hours ago

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

21 hours ago

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

Take Me To This River

21 hours ago

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

21 hours ago

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

21 hours ago

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

21 hours ago

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.

How The Sad Puppies Won — By Losing

Aug 26, 2015

"We smacked the Sad Puppies with a rolled-up newspaper," said a woman on the shuttle bus between hotels at WorldCon in Spokane, Wash., on Sunday night. "It's the only way to teach them."

The late Terry Pratchett wrote more than 40 books about the Discworld, a magical flat land borne through space on the backs of four elephants and a giant cosmic turtle. The Discworld is full of memorable characters: Werewolf constables, cunning rulers, snooty vampires, con men, trolls and dwarves and mystery-sausage sellers. But the most memorable of all are the witches — not green-skinned and cackling, but tough, practical women who use "headology" rather than spellcasting, and whose mission is to help people "when life is on the edge."

Diagnosed with terminal leukemia in 2010, Clive James has made of death a different kind of inspiration than the perennial dark muse it is for most writers. Rather than dwell on his stance squarely in the crosshairs of oblivion, James, the Australian-born writer who is one of the U.K.'s most eminent and famous literary personalities, has doubled down on his writing practice, or perhaps simply kept up his prolific pace.

About 16 years ago, I lost my hungry heart to a flour tortilla. I was in the small town of Las Vegas, N.M., at Charlie's Spic & Span Café, when a server placed a basket on the table. Inside was a stack of thick, charmingly floppy tortillas, dotted with browned bubbles and closer in thickness to pancakes than the wan, flaccid discs I was used to at the supermarket. My Brooklyn-by-way-of-Michigan palate was infatuated: What magic was this? How could I not have known that tortillas like these existed?

Copyright 2015 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit http://michiganradio.org/.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep with the story of an English teacher hoping to find a way to make sure that a love for literature takes root. Here's Rebecca Kruth of Michigan Radio.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

"Our responses to [Joan Didion's] persona tell us less about the woman behind the books than about ourselves," writes Tracy Daugherty in his new biography of the legendary author, and he couldn't be more right. She was a conservative in the 1960s, whom liberals believed was one of their own. Some of her fans admire her skeptical takes on the entertainment industry and politics, but she's had close friends in the Hollywood and Washington crowd for decades.

Many chefs dream of opening their own restaurant. But Laura Martinez faced an obstacle that many people thought would make that dream impossible to fulfill: The 31-year-old chef is blind.

It took two years for Martinez to open La Diosa, her tiny restaurant in Chicago, this past January. In addition to her white chef's jacket, Martinez wears dark sunglasses when she works.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

One evening last July, Nat Bradford walked along rows of White Bolita Mexican corn at his Sumter, S.C., farm, and nearly wept. All 1,400 of the corn plants had been overtaken almost overnight by corn smut, recalls Bradford, who's also a landscape architect. The smut, from a fungus called Ustilago maydis, literally transforms each corn kernel into a bulbous, bulging bluish-grey gall. It is naturally present in the soil and can be lofted easily into the air and onto plants.

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