Arts/Life

Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu May 3, 2012

'Almost Invisible': New Poems From Mark Strand

Knopf

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 8:07 am

American poetry's recognition of the prosaicness — if not profanity — of our age and culture takes many forms. Poets embrace pop or pursue the workings of the mind with what Robert Bly called associative leaping. They examine rhetoric by mashing up archaisms with the hypernew. They resist poetry's traditional resistance to technology, fashion, advertising or fad — or they follow someone like Ashbery into poetic abstraction.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu May 3, 2012

'Newlyweds': A Big, Fat Cross-Cultural Marriage

istockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue May 8, 2012 3:27 pm

American literature is rich with books that illuminate our culture from an immigrant's fresh perspective. The most powerful tend to be written by the newcomers themselves, or their offspring, but there are exceptions. Nell Freudenberger's latest novel, The Newlyweds, is about a young Bangladeshi woman determined to find a better life by marrying an American she meets on a dating website. Coming from a native New Yorker, it's an act of sustained, cross-cultural ventriloquism and empathy.

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Commentary
1:02 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Watching 'The Avengers' In India, With A Twist

In The Avengers, the Hulk lives in Calcutta — and doesn't lose his temper over the city's traffic and other problems. That might not ring true to anyone who's been there, says Sandip Roy.
Marvel

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 8:31 am

When I went to see The Avengers the very day it was released, I texted a friend in San Francisco. It seems kind of unfair, I said, that because of the 12-hour time difference, I get to see The Avengers before you do.

Turns out I was a week off. The Avengers actually released in 39 countries around the world, including India, a week before it opens in America.

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Arts & Life
12:18 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Colorful Visions At African-American Art Exhibit

Gene Young American Art Museum

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 8:50 am

The African-American experience is reflected, right now, on the walls of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. Exuberant dancing in Chicago. Laundry on a line in the nation's capital. A girl smiling out from her father's warm jacket — all captured in photographs, paintings and sculptures from the 1920s through the 1990s.

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Monkey See
2:03 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Studios To Movie Fans: Take Our Clips, Please

Robert Duvall and Al Pacino in a scene from The Godfather Part II.
AP

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 8:44 am

Maybe you needed a good cry, but you were at work and didn't have easy access to your DVD of "The Notebook." So, you searched for that heart wrenching break-up scene on YouTube and let the tears flow freely.

Could be, nostalgic for times past when "real" men wore suits and drank bourbon, you were itching to watch Humphrey Bogart tell Ingrid Bergman, "Here's lookin' at you kid."

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New In Paperback
1:14 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

New In Paperback April 30-May 6

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 2:42 pm

Fiction and nonfiction releases from Dan Brown, Diane Keaton, Fareed Zakaria, Annie Jacobsen and Mitchell Zuckoff.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Pop Culture
10:30 am
Wed May 2, 2012

Sherlock: A Character Who's More Than Elementary

Basil Rathbone (right) as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 1945.
AP

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 11:04 am

One of my favorite professors, the late Ian Watt, taught that there were four great myths of modern individualism: Faust, Don Juan, Don Quixote and Robinson Crusoe. This always got me wondering which, if any, pop-culture heroes might endure in the same way. James Bond? Luke Skywalker? The Avengers? C'mon. In fact, there's only one who I feel sure will last — Sherlock Holmes.

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Performing Arts
9:58 am
Wed May 2, 2012

When It Comes To War, Humor Helps Us Survive

Water by the Spoonful is this year's winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It's a play about addiction, memory, and the Iraq War. Host Michel Martin speaks with playwright Quiara Alegria Hudes, who says that her people don't have to wallow in misery, that we can laugh, even in our darkest moments.

Monkey See
9:05 am
Wed May 2, 2012

'Rurally Screwed': On Finding An Honest Life Away From The City

Jessie Knadler, her husband Jake (a veteran of the Army Reserves who recently returned from a deployment in Afghanistan), and their daughter June.
Penguin

Jessie Knadler is the thirty-something author of Rurally Screwed: My Life Off The Grid With the Cowboy I Love (Berkley Hardcover).

I like her immediately as she strides in the door at WMRA, the Shenandoah Valley public radio station that kindly employs me. There she is, short and slight as two seconds; still got this big-city, offhand glamour and presence going six years out of Manhattan. She's "bring 'em on" without any silly bravado.

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Author Interviews
8:36 am
Wed May 2, 2012

ExxonMobil: A 'Private Empire' On The World Stage

Steve Coll was a managing editor at The Washington Post and a staff writer for The New Yorker. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1990 for reporting about the Securities and Exchange Commission and in 2004 for his book Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001.
Courtesy of the author

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 10:30 am

In Private Empire, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Steve Coll investigates how ExxonMobil has used its money and power to wield significant influence in Washington, D.C., particularly during the Bush administration.

Executives at the company maintained close personal connections with members of the Bush administration — but Coll says the "cliched idea that Exxon-Mobil was just an instrument of the Bush administration's foreign policy — a kind of extension of the American government during the Bush years — is just wrong."

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Kitchen Window
5:26 am
Wed May 2, 2012

You Don't Have To Like Liver To Love Pate

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon May 21, 2012 11:30 am

Once at a family gathering, my relatives and I met in the living room for a midday snack. A spread with vegetables and crackers was arranged in a spiral on a white platter, the colors fanning out in a rainbow. My cousin Megan was the first to dig in, sampling a bit of the spread on a crunchy cracker. Her brows furrowed as she chewed.

"This is so good," she exclaimed. "What is this?"

"Liver," my cousin Danny replied.

Megan yelped and threw the remaining cracker across the room as she cringed in horror. "Liver? I just ate liver?"

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed May 2, 2012

'Power': Robert Caro's Life Of Johnson Hits The '60s

Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 8:18 am

The White House has been occupied by some outsize personalities and towering figures, but Lyndon B. Johnson was as big as Texas. Six-foot-four and physically intimidating, he was the kind of man who "got bigger as he talked to you." He had a heart — sometimes — to match: Unlike many white politicians of his era, Johnson was personally infuriated by racism, and signed into law some of the most important civil rights legislation in American history.

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Arts & Life
1:24 am
Wed May 2, 2012

'Scream' Still Echoes After More Than A Century

This version of The Scream is one of four made by Edvard Munch, and the only one outside Norway. It is coming up for auction at Sotheby's in New York.
AP

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 5:59 am

It's perhaps the most reproduced piece of art ever created. It has adorned key chains and coffee mugs, and the cover of Time magazine. Andy Warhol used it, and now one of the four versions of The Scream, Edvard Munch's iconic work — the only one outside Norway — is coming up for auction at Sotheby's in New York. Sale estimates are as high as $80 million.

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Author Interviews
1:23 am
Wed May 2, 2012

Do Liberals Live Under A 'Tyranny Of Cliches'?

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 5:03 am

Conservative critic Jonah Goldberg says he's inspired to write when he gets annoyed. "Aggravation is a muse," he says. And after speaking on a number of college campuses, he grew aggravated enough to write a book. It's called The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas.

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Movies
2:54 pm
Tue May 1, 2012

Young Dancers, Aiming For 'First Position'

In First Position, dancer-turned-filmmaker Bess Kargman seeks to challenge stereotypes about ballet dancers. Kargman says she didn't fear the challenges of being a first-time director because her subjects' stories were so compelling.
IFC Films

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 8:44 am

First Position follows in the spirit of such competition documentaries as Spellbound and Mad Hot Ballroom, tracking seven young dancers as they prepare for the Youth America Grand Prix, a prestigious ballet contest.

The first competitor we meet is a mature 11-year-old named Aran Bell. His father is in the military. He likes to skateboard and jump on his pogo stick.

Aran began dancing when he was 4, and when he hits the stage, he turns and leaps with the poise and fire of a professional.

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Author Interviews
2:18 pm
Tue May 1, 2012

'Blown Covers': Not Ready For The Newsstand

Abrams Books

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 8:50 am

This week's cover of the New Yorker magazine is a witty drawing by artist Chris Ware of a playground full of young children and their watchful parents. One woman wheels her son in a stroller, only to see that all the other parents are men. The image is called "Mother's Day."

But for all the memorable New Yorker covers out there, an equally large number of covers didn't make it to the newsstand. They were not quite on the money — or were sometimes a little too coarsely on the money.

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Monkey See
12:22 pm
Tue May 1, 2012

DVD Picks: 'Pillow Talk'

Pillow Talk stars Doris Day (above) and Rock Hudson as a pair of strangers who butt heads and fall in love on a shared telephone line.
Universal Pictures

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 8:44 am

Time for another home-viewing recommendation from film critic Bob Mondello. This week, Bob's listening in on Rock Hudson and Doris Day as they make a bit of Pillow Talk.

What happens when the Girl Next Door meets Mr. Beefcake? It's instant chemistry, albeit of the explosive sort — think Mentos and Diet Coke.

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Book Reviews
9:56 am
Tue May 1, 2012

'The Newlyweds': A Match Made Online

Random House

Originally published on Tue May 1, 2012 10:38 am

There continues to be a lot of talk about gender bias in the book industry. The core argument goes that, while both male and female authors write novels about relationships and the domestic sphere, when a woman does so her books are relegated to "chic lit," and when a man (like Jonathan Franzen) does, he's lauded for serious literary achievement.

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Osama Bin Laden Killed
9:56 am
Tue May 1, 2012

The 'Manhunt' To Capture Osama Bin Laden

On May 1, 2011, Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
AP

Originally published on Tue May 1, 2012 10:29 am

A year ago Tuesday, Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces inside a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. When President Obama announced the news, he called the death of bin Laden "the most significant achievement to date" in the war against al-Qaida.

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Around the Nation
9:54 am
Tue May 1, 2012

What's Fun About 5? Mud And Gummy Worms

It's Tell Me More's 5th birthday. In the last few years, Tell Me More has produced more than 1,300 hours of programming that have piqued the interest of even the youngest listeners. Host Michel Martin hears from 5-year-old Hezekiah Jefferson-Glipa of Corona, California about his best memories of being five and what it means to turn six.

Monkey See
9:46 am
Tue May 1, 2012

Tony Awards Take Note Of A Little Musical That Emphatically Could

In Once, based on the cult-favorite Irish indie movie, a guy (Steve Kazee) and a girl (Cristin Milioti) fall in love during a whirlwind week of songwriting in Dublin. The show has earned 11 Tony nominations, including two for its leads.
Joan Marcus

Originally published on Tue May 1, 2012 10:47 am

Here's the thing about the Tony Awards: Sometimes you know what's going to clean up when the nominations are announced. (Think last year, and The Book of Mormon.)

And sometimes it's hard to get excited about the shows that get tapped — remember when Sunset Boulevard's only competition for Best Musical was the jukebox show Smokey Joe's Cafe?

Not this year: There's a real race. The bittersweet Irish romance Once — an absurdly appealing stage adaptation of the 2006 indie film — leads the pack with 11 nods.

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Monkey See
8:16 am
Tue May 1, 2012

Let's Rush To Judgment: 'The Dark Knight Rises'

Tom Hardy and Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises.
Ron Phillips Warner Brothers Pictures

The Dark Knight Rises is one of those films where so many bits and drops are constantly emerging that it's hard to find a particular moment in which rushing to judgment is any more or less appropriate than at any other time. But the appearance of a new trailer yesterday has set off another round of speculation, and who are we to decline to participate?

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Tue May 1, 2012

'Mother' Dearest: Alison Bechdel's Graphic Memoir

It's a lot easier to write about a dead parent than a living one. Alison Bechdel's new "comic drama," Are You My Mother?, makes this abundantly clear. Fun Home, her amazing 2006 graphic memoir, was about her difficult, closeted gay father, who died shortly after she came out as a lesbian in college. This fascinating but demanding followup volume explores her uneasy relationship with her emotionally distant mother — who is not only alive but openly critical of Bechdel's work.

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Monkey See
2:54 pm
Mon April 30, 2012

Can The Networks Ever Create Another Night Of 'Must-See TV'?

Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer appear in the baby birth episode of NBC's Friends.
AP

Originally published on Mon April 30, 2012 3:34 pm

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Author Interviews
10:05 am
Mon April 30, 2012

Sissy Spacek's 'Extraordinary Ordinary Life'

Sissy Spacek received the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner's Daughter.
Courtesy of the author

Originally published on Mon April 30, 2012 10:45 am

When Sissy Spacek started her film career, she was told to lose her heavy Texas accent. But her famous drawl became one of her greatest assets when Terrence Malick cast her in his 1973 crime drama Badlands.

Spacek played Holly, a teenage girl from South Dakota who became an accomplice on a cross-country murder spree. The film, which also starred Martin Sheen, was narrated in Spacek's distinctive Southern voice.

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Arts & Life
10:03 am
Mon April 30, 2012

A Bittersweet Goodbye To A Month Of Poetic Tweets

Writer and poet Holly Bass joins host Michel Martin to wrap up Tell Me More's poetry series, Muses and Metaphor. In celebration of National Poetry Month, listeners and friends of the program were invited to tweet poems no longer than 140 characters, via Twitter.

My Guilty Pleasure
4:36 am
Mon April 30, 2012

'The Magus': A Thrilling, Chilling Guilty Pleasure

cover detail

Originally published on Mon August 27, 2012 4:23 pm

Nick Dybek is the author of When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man.

The sinister face sneering from the cover is reason enough to keep John Fowles' The Magus tucked discreetly away. Then there's the 600 or so pages inside, which are filled with pretentious riffs on psychoanalysis, metaphysics, fascism and the occult.

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Author Interviews
1:37 am
Mon April 30, 2012

Caro's 'Passage of Power': LBJ's Political Genius

Keystone Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 30, 2012 8:26 am

Robert Caro writes obsessively about power. Fittingly, it's Lyndon Johnson — catapulted suddenly into the presidency "in the crack of a gunshot" — who consumes him.

The Passage of Power, the fourth volume of Caro's massive biography of Lyndon Johnson, is released this week. Caro has dedicated decades to meticulously researching Johnson's life, and the previous books in the series have been almost universally hailed as a significant achievement in American letters.

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Author Interviews
1:33 am
Mon April 30, 2012

Extremism In Congress: 'Even Worse Than It Looks'?

Mladen Antonov Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 30, 2012 8:53 am

Congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein are no strangers to D.C. politics. The two of them have been in Washington for more than 40 years — and they're renowned for their carefully nonpartisan positions.

But now, they say, Congress is more dysfunctional than it has been since the Civil War, and they aren't hesitating to point a finger at who they think is to blame.

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Books
3:09 pm
Sun April 29, 2012

Three-Minute Fiction Update: Judge's Favorites

Originally published on Sun April 29, 2012 3:48 pm

Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz checks-in with Three-Minute Fiction judge Luis Alberto Urrea to hear how the reading process is going and to hear some of his favorite stories thus far.

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