Arts/Life

Book News & Features
5:03 am
Mon September 1, 2014

Author Charles Cumming Ponders The Seductions — And The Sins — Of Spying

Charles Cumming's latest book is A Colder War.
Jonathan Ring

If you were making a movie about the world of British espionage, you'd want to cast someone like Charles Cumming as your undercover agent. He's tall and handsome and self-assured and utterly charming in that self-deprecating British way. You can imagine him effortlessly gliding through the small talk of embassy parties or sweeping a gullible female officer off her feet — in service of Queen and country, of course. In other words, it's easy to be seduced by him.

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Arts & Life
3:29 am
Mon September 1, 2014

MK Asante's Poem 'In Summer' Honors Paul Laurence Dunbar

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Crime In The City
1:16 am
Mon September 1, 2014

Ghanaian Mystery Writer Says, 'It's Easy To Get Murdered In Accra'

Kwei Quartey sets one of the crime scenes in his second D.I. Dawson book in Agbogbloshie, an Accra slum.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton NPR

Originally published on Mon September 1, 2014 5:15 am

White egrets swoop down on the Agbogbloshie Canal and stoop to pick at mounds of filth and trash in search of food. The clogged and stinky waterway dominates Agbogbloshie, the main shantytown in Accra, Ghana's capital city. You wonder how the birds manage to maintain white feathers as they wade in the putrid, muddy water.

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Author Interviews
4:21 pm
Sun August 31, 2014

'A Thousand Mirrors' Shows Two Views Of One Long, Brutal War

Lakruwan Wanniarachchi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun August 31, 2014 5:19 pm

It's hard to comprehend the toll Sri Lanka's civil war took on the South Asian country. The United Nations estimates that between 80,000 and 100,000 people lost their lives in the conflict — all on an island just slightly larger than West Virginia.

Ethnic tensions between two main ethnic groups in Sri Lanka — the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils — simmered through the '60s and '70s. The civil war officially began in 1983 and continued until 2009.

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My Big Break
3:40 pm
Sun August 31, 2014

Fast-Talking 21-Year-Old Makes A Winning Bid For Auctioneer Glory

Blaine Lotz of Edna, Kan., is this year's winner of the prestigious World Livestock Auctioneer Championship, hosted by the Livestock Marketing Association.
Morgan Leigh Meisenheimer Livestock Marketing Association

Originally published on Sun August 31, 2014 5:17 pm

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.

When Blaine Lotz fires off prices from the auction block, the first thing you might notice is the lightning-fast speed of his words. But Lotz, wearing a suit and black cowboy hat as he rattles off numbers to a crowd of cattle-buyers, says there's much more to the art of auctioneering than speed.

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Code Switch
10:00 am
Sun August 31, 2014

Native American Artists Reclaim Images That Represent Them

Jason Lujan "re-contextualizes" the word 'Apache' in his art.
Jason Lujan

Originally published on Sun August 31, 2014 2:59 pm

There's been a lot of discussion about the name of a certain Washington football team — with lawsuits arguing that it is disparaging, and media outlets choosing not to use it in their content.

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Sunday Puzzle
6:03 am
Sun August 31, 2014

The Same Until You Shuffle

NPR

Originally published on Sun August 31, 2014 9:36 am

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is a made-up two-word phrase, in which both words start with 'S' and they're anagrams of each other.

Example: Identical line where two pieces of fabric are sewn together = SAME SEAM

Last week's challenge: Name a world leader of the 1960s (two words). Change the last letter of the second word. Then switch the order of the words, putting the second word in front. The result will name a hit song of the 1990s. Who is the leader, and what is the song?

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Author Interviews
6:03 am
Sun August 31, 2014

This Time It's 'Personal': Lee Child Writes His 19th Jack Reacher Novel

Lee Child is the author of 19 Jack Reacher novels — and is currently working on the 20th.
Sigrid Estrada AP/Random House

Originally published on Sun August 31, 2014 7:09 am

As Lee Child writes new installments in his Jack Reacher series, he thinks back to something his father said: When it came to books and films, "he would say he wanted the same but different," Child tells NPR's Linda Wertheimer. And that, for Child, is the fun and the challenge of it all.

Personal is his 19th novel starring Jack Reacher, the retired U.S. military policeman who puts his folding toothbrush in his shirt pocket and boards a bus to wherever that bus is going.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Sun August 31, 2014

Rescuing Science From The Military ... With Comics?

Pouty lips, flowing hair and ... oligonucleotide synthesizers? Two of these things don't seem to belong — at least, not in a comic that seeks to expose high-level Defense Department research to the critical light of day. Human physicality seems somehow out of place in the sterile confines of a government lab.

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Author Interviews
3:20 am
Sun August 31, 2014

'Why Not?' David Mitchell On Mixing Fantasy And Reality In 'Bone Clocks'

David Mitchell's previous books include The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and Cloud Atlas.
Paul Stuart

Originally published on Sun August 31, 2014 9:41 am

The Bone Clocks is David Mitchell's newest book — he's best known for 2004's Cloud Atlas, which was made into a movie with Tom Hanks and Halle Berry. Mitchell's many fans have been eagerly waiting for this new one, hoping it would present the same kind of fascinating puzzles as Cloud Atlas, which featured a very complicated set of nesting plots.

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Author Interviews
4:48 pm
Sat August 30, 2014

The Other Rock History

Singer Ian Curtis on stage in 1980 with Joy Division, whose song "Transmission" is among those explored in Greil Marcus' book The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs.
Rob Verhorst Redferns

Originally published on Sun August 31, 2014 1:54 pm

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Animals
4:37 pm
Sat August 30, 2014

When Wildlife Documentaries Jump The Shark

Discovery Channel identifies the shark in this promotional image as the "Shark of Darkness." And in the "documentary" by that name, supposed scientists describe how this monster "submarine" shark is over 30 feet long. But submarine sharks aren't real, and the documentary is fake — an important fact critics say is easy to miss.
Chris Fallows Discovery Channel

Originally published on Sat August 30, 2014 6:22 pm

This summer's Shark Week on the Discovery Channel was the highest-rated in the special's 27-year history. But that success has also brought complaints.

The network has been criticized for pushing entertainment at the cost of science, with "documentaries" that advance dubious theories — or are entirely fake. Discovery Channel has aired specials about everything from mythical monster sharks in Louisiana's rivers to long-extinct Megalodons supposedly still swimming the seas.

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Books
3:11 pm
Sat August 30, 2014

Travelling Books: Vintage Van Carries Literature Around Lisbon

Francisco Antolin, the driver and co-founder of Tell A Story, speaks to a couple of Danish tourists who purchased some books from his mobile bookstore. The converted van travels around Lisbon and sells translations of Portuguese literature.
Laura Secorun Palet Ozy.com

Originally published on Sat August 30, 2014 10:23 pm

You're probably well-acquainted with the idea of the food van. The more sartorially minded may have even visited a fashion truck. Now, it's translated into literature aimed at tourists.

In June 2013, three entrepreneurial literature lovers from Portugal's capital created a nomadic bookstore that moves around the city all year long, bringing Portuguese literature to international visitors.

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Simon Says
6:08 am
Sat August 30, 2014

Syrian Artists Denied Visas, And A Voice In The U.S.

Syria: The Trojan Women inserts current events into an ancient Greek tragedy, performed here in Amman, Jordan, in 2013.
Lynn Alleva Lilley Lynn Alleva Lilley

Originally published on Sat August 30, 2014 10:31 pm

The Trojan Women, by Euripides, is a Greek tragedy written 2,500 years ago that war keeps timely.

It's about a group of women who struggle to survive in Troy after the town has been sacked. When one of the women cries out, "Our country, our conquered country, perishes ... O land that reared my children!" it's hard not to hear those words echo today, through Syria, in Iraq and in Ukraine.

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Around the Nation
5:37 am
Sat August 30, 2014

The Abercrombie Logo Loses Its Luxe

Originally published on Sat August 30, 2014 9:29 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Author Interviews
5:31 am
Sat August 30, 2014

If These Shorts Could Talk ... New Book Tells 'Worn Stories'

Ally Lindsay Courtesy of Princeton Architectural Press

Originally published on Sat August 30, 2014 10:33 am

Clothes may not necessarily make the man, but they sure make memories. In her new book, Worn Stories, Emily Spivack compiles reflections from Rosanne Cash, Piper Kerman, Marcus Samuelsson and others about the meaningful articles of clothing stored in their closets.

"I asked them to look for something that they couldn't part with," she tells NPR's Scott Simon. "Something that held some memory, whether it was something spectacular, momentous, wonderful, unusual that happened to them while they were wearing that piece of clothing."

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Book News & Features
5:03 am
Sat August 30, 2014

Hopscotching To 100: An Appreciation Of Julio Cortázar

An informal monument to Julio Cortázar on the streets of Buenos Aires.
Getty Images

First thing I noticed on the cover was his mouth, which was half open, midlaugh. Next, his teeth; not the best set I'd ever seen. After that, of course, his pronounced unibrow — thick and equally unbecoming. There was the cat, too, posted on the windowsill. Its eyes were dead set on the playful man with the camera and the mouth and the teeth and bushy eyebrow. All this and the words Save Twilight. I thumbed through the little book some and paid for it — cost me about a dollar at the used book shop.

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Author Interviews
3:23 am
Sat August 30, 2014

Hip-Hop In Print: Brooklyn Publisher Looks To 'Reverse Gentrify' Literature

Rapper Prodigy, shown above performing in New York City, published his debut novel, H.N.I.C., in 2013.
Mike Lawrie Getty Images

Originally published on Sat August 30, 2014 5:47 am

At this summer's Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica, thousands turned up for readings by big-name authors: Salman Rushdie, Jamaica Kincaid, Zadie Smith and Albert Johnson. Odds are the name Albert Johnson doesn't ring a bell. But if you're a hip-hop fan, you might recognize the author by another name: Prodigy. Off and on for the past 20 years, he's been one half of the acclaimed Queens, N.Y., duo Mobb Deep.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
7:33 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Not My Job: Gov. Deval Patrick Gets Quizzed On Burning Man

Eric Haynes Photo Courtesy of Gov. Deval Patrick's Office

Originally published on Sat August 30, 2014 10:07 am

Deval Patrick was elected governor of the commonwealth of Massachusetts in 2006. He's finishing his second and final term, and he clearly no longer cares because he's agreed to join us to play our quiz.

We've invited him to answer three questions about Burning Man, the annual art festival/hippie magnet taking place in the desert of northern Nevada.

This Week's Must Read
2:12 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

In An Earthquake, History Fuels One Writer's Anxiety

San Francisco on fire in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 6:40 pm

While most of America is thinking burgers and swimming this Labor Day weekend, I can't stop thinking about earthquakes.

Last Sunday, a shaker registering magnitude 6.0 struck the Napa Valley in Northern California. It injured dozens and caused about $1 billion in damages. National media coverage focused on how the quake affected the area's famous wine industry — because America needs to know that our stock of cabs and zinfandels is safe.

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Latin America
2:07 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Cantinflas, With His Puns And Satire, Is Back (And Still Relevant)

Mario Moreno, known as Cantinflas, is a beloved icon in Latin America. A new biopic about the comic opens this weekend in the U.S.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 6:40 pm

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Author Interviews
11:14 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Florida-Grown Fiction: Hiaasen Satirizes The Sunshine State

Novelist and Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen writes with passion and purpose about the state he loves. His latest book, Bad Monkey, is an offbeat murder mystery set in Key West.

Originally broadcast June 13, 2013.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

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Author Interviews
11:14 am
Fri August 29, 2014

John Waters Hitchhikes Across America, And Lives To Write About It

The 68-year-old film director hitchhiked from Baltimore to San Francisco for his book Carsick. He says hitchhiking is "the worst beauty regimen ever" and admits he always kept his luggage with him.

Originally broadcast June 10.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

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Movie Reviews
10:45 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Not Quite Bond, Pierce Brosnan Is Back In Action In 'The November Man'

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 12:50 pm

Sean Connery was 53 when he downed his last vodka martini as James Bond (though he'd previously walked away from the role and been lured back twice). Roger Moore was 57 at the time of his last mission on Her Majesty's Secret Service (though he didn't look a day over 90). Pierce Brosnan was a spry 49 in his final Bonding session, and his departure was bittersweet: He'd started later than he'd wanted, almost a decade after he was first announced as Moore's successor in the mid-80s.

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Code Switch
7:42 am
Fri August 29, 2014

A Photographer Captures The Often-Overlooked 'Aunty' Couture

Poonam Aunty
Meera Sethi Upping the Aunty

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 11:07 am

"Ugh, she dresses like SUCH an aunty!" is usually not something you'd want to hear about your style, if you're South Asian.

An "aunty" or "aunty-ji" (depending on where you want to fall on the graph of respect and familiarity) is what you call a lady roughly around your mother's age. So, the family friend who has seen you grow up, your mom's co-worker, the lady next to you in the grocery line or the nosy neighbor whose questions about your love life you endure because she makes a killer biryani — they all qualify.

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The Two-Way
5:20 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Book News: Born to Write? Bruce Springsteen To Publish A Children's Book

Bruce Springsteen performs in May in Century City, Calif.
Alberto E. Rodriguez Getty Images for USC Shoah Foundation

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 9:53 am

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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Around the Nation
3:23 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Weekend Musher Finds Dogs Keep Her Hanging On

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 6:00 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Men In America
3:22 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

What's A Writer Gotta Do To Get A Little Health Care Around Here?

iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 8:10 pm

In my teens, I stumbled onto the wide trail of "the writer's bildungsroman," the coming-of-age stories that often gave me too much to identify with. That whispered clear messages while I slept and while I tried to imagine a life far, far outside the heat and farmlands of where I grew up.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

In 'The Congress,' An Animated Future Where Movie Studios Are Villains

The most interesting but remarkably understated aspect of The Congress, a half-live-action, half-animated trip of a film from Israeli director Ari Folman, is the increasing power accrued by the fake movie studio in its story, Miramount. When the film opens, Miramount is but a moviemaking venture, as you'd expect; by the end, it's the dominant power structure behind a futuristic dystopian society.

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Monkey See
3:03 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

New Amazon Series Pilots Fall Short Of A TV Revolution

Jay Chandrasekhar and Sarah Chalke are a married couple in the new Amazon Studios pilot Really.
Quantrell Colbert Amazon Studios

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 10:01 am

When it comes to original TV series, it's tough to understand exactly where Amazon is going.

At first, its strategy seemed simple: It went where big-ticket competitors like Netflix and HBO didn't, greenlighting comedies like Garry Trudeau's political satire Alpha House and the Silicon Valley series Betas, along with a raft of kids' shows.

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