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Addiction Is A Family Affair In 'Mayhem'

Sep 7, 2017

Martha Anne Toll is the Executive Director of the Butler Family Fund; her writing is at www.marthaannetoll.com, and she tweets at @marthaannetoll.

Here's a useful rule of thumb: If one of your friends says "I've got to tell you about this weird dream I had last night," run. Otherwise you're in for the most boring ten-minute story you've ever heard, punctuated with phrases like "It was, like, my house, but not my house, you know?"

Jason Heller is a Hugo Award-winning editor and author of the forthcoming book Strange Stars (Melville House). Twitter: @jason_m_heller

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Jason Sheehan knows stuff about food, video games, books and Starblazers. He is currently the restaurant critic at Philadelphia magazine, but when no one is looking, he spends his time writing books about giant robots and ray guns. Tales From the Radiation Age is his latest book.

Hallie Meyers-Shyer's first feature as a writer and director is Home Again, which stars Reese Witherspoon as a freshly separated woman who opens her home to three young filmmakers who need a place to stay. Meyers-Shyer is only 29, but her film lineage goes back decades. Her parents, Charles Shyer and Nancy Meyers (now divorced), worked together for years on films including Private Benjamin (1980), Baby Boom (1987) and the updated versions of Father Of The Bride (1991) and The Parent Trap (1998).

Sing, Unburied, Sing opens with the slaughter of a goat. "The goat makes a sound of surprise, a bleat swallowed by a gurgle, and then there's blood and mud everywhere."

Yes, blood and mud are everywhere in Jesmyn Ward's Mississippi, a place full of ghosts and corpses, bayous and roadkill ("possums or armadillos or wild pigs or hit deer, bloating and turning sour in the Mississippi heat"). That oozing mud sticks to her characters: They dream of drowning, of rising waters and sucking mud. And blood, well.

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The author Salman Rushdie has set his books all over the world. His most famous novels — Midnight's Children and The Satanic Verses — take place in India and the United Kingom, both countries where Rushdie has lived. His latest, The Golden House, is set in the city he now calls home, New York, and its themes are deeply American.

If John le Carré's espionage novels seem particularly authentic, it may be because the author has first-hand experience. Le Carré worked as a spy for the British intelligence services MI5 and MI6 early in his writing career, and only left the field after his third book, 1963's The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, became an international best-seller.

Success is dull; failure is fascinating.

George Smiley is back.

For the first time in 25 years, John le Carré has written a new novel featuring the spy at the center of some his most popular books. The new release, A Legacy of Spies, is a kind of prequel to The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1963), the book that made le Carré famous and changed spy novels forever.

In A Legacy of Spies, le Carré goes deep into Smiley's past, re-examining the role he and his cohorts played in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, a story of betrayal and deception that ends badly at the Berlin Wall.

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One of the ingredients a successful Broadway show needs is a talented cast. That starts with talented casting directors, the people who can see a Tony-winning star in the making, say, when a performer walks into an audition as a college student named Audra McDonald.

Acclaimed Poet John Ashbery Dies At 90

Sep 4, 2017

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Updated at 8:20 p.m. ET

John Ashbery, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet known for his surrealist, confounding works, has died at age 90.

The poet died of natural causes in his Hudson, N.Y., home early Sunday, confirms Farrar, Straus & Giroux, the publicist for a new Ashbery biography.

Last week British actor Ed Skrein, who is white, made news for quitting a project where he was cast as an Asian-American character in the reboot of the comic film Hellboy. Skrein's decision is the latest addition to an ongoing conversation about "whitewashing." Audiences as well as performers have started to challenge the casting of white performers as non-white ethnic characters.

Maya Rodale is a bestselling romance author.

Poems For Houston

Sep 3, 2017

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In his debut novel, The World of Tomorrow, Brendan Mathews portrays America as a land of possibility and redemption. "I wanted to write a book that was full of immigrants and dreamers and strivers," he says. "People who come to America or to New York specifically in pursuit of something — they all want something better, something different.

'Sourdough' Rises Like A Good Loaf

Sep 3, 2017

Jason Sheehan knows stuff about food, video games, books and Starblazers. He is currently the restaurant critic at Philadelphia magazine, but when no one is looking, he spends his time writing books about giant robots and ray guns. Tales From the Radiation Age is his latest book.

Think of it like Candide without the pirates. And set in San Francisco.

Wait, that's not quite right.

Raphael Bob-Waksberg had a friend who liked to draw people with animal heads, so he did what anyone would do: He created an animated TV show about a washed-up '90s sitcom star who happens to be a horse, sold it to Netflix, and now BoJack Horseman is so successful it's been banned in China. The fourth season debuts September 8.

We've invited Bob-Waksberg to answer three questions about centaurs.

Nathan Englander's latest novel, Dinner at the Center of the Earth, is set amid the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It winds together the stories of a prisoner, a guard, mothers, sons, spies, statesmen, traitors and lovers. Sometimes they're even the same person.

"I call this novel sort of like a turducken of a novel," Englander tells NPR. "It's like a political thriller that's wrapped up in a historical novel that's really a love story that ends up being an allegory."

Jason Sheehan knows stuff about food, video games, books and Starblazers. He is currently the restaurant critic at Philadelphia magazine, but when no one is looking, he spends his time writing books about giant robots and ray guns. Tales From the Radiation Age is his latest book.

Comedian Shelley Berman has died. According to his publicist, Glenn Schwartz, Berman died early Friday morning at his home in Bell Canyon, Calif. He was 92 and had Alzheimer's disease.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Maria Luisa is 12 years old. Her parents are divorced, and her mom just got a job at a new city. Things are not looking good. So Malu - that's the shortened version of her name, the version she prefers - puts on her headphones.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

There's a film hitting theaters this weekend you may not have heard anything about. It's called Tulip Fever, a period romantic thriller starring Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz, Judi Dench and Dane DeHaan, with a screenplay by Tom Stoppard.

Opening Act

Sep 1, 2017

This first game plays on the slang term "Netflix and Chill," where every answer rhymes with the word "chill." Then, just try to forget this mother father next game where contestants identify the movie based on the redubbed swear word.

Heard On AMA Favorites: Sex, Drugs, And Rock 'N' Roll Edition

Encore

Sep 1, 2017

With the help of the Ask Me Another audience, house musician Jonathan Coulton leads a music game that turns Queen's classic We Will Rock You into an ode to famous rocks. Then contestants compete in a ménage à trois-themed final round.

Heard On AMA Favorites: Sex, Drugs, And Rock 'N' Roll Edition

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