Arts/Life

Author Interviews
6:11 am
Sat June 27, 2015

Daniel Silva On 'Double-Edged Sword' Of Writing An Israeli Spy Protagonist

Lydia Thompson NPR

Originally published on Fri July 10, 2015 12:09 pm

Another summer, another best-seller from novelist Daniel Silva. In The English Spy, the most famous woman in the world — a titled and gorgeous ex-member of the British royal family — is sunk on her yacht. To track down her killer, British Intelligence needs a little help — actually, a lot of help — from Gabriel Allon, an unassuming art restorer who is also, to those who have to know, a legendary and indispensable Israeli spy.

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Books
6:11 am
Sat June 27, 2015

Alpha, Beta, Heathcliff — An Alphabet Of Romance Heroes

Played by Olivier or not — Heathcliff was really kind of a jerk by romance hero standards.
United Artists

Originally published on Sat June 27, 2015 8:30 am

There's one hard and fast rule for the romance novel: It has to have a happy ending. The two people you think should be together will be together in the end. But the journey to that happily-ever-after can be a bumpy one. And romance heroes come in many forms.

I wanted to find out what makes romance heroes so, well, romantic — and the first thing I learned is that romance fans have a language of their own. "We have names and acronyms for everything within the genre," says Jane Litte, who blogs about romance at Dear Author.

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Time Machine
5:03 am
Sat June 27, 2015

The Craft Sequence: Please Do Judge These Books By Their Covers

Let me tell you the story of how Max Gladstone became one of my favorite writers, which is also the story of why you should all be buying his Craft Sequence books immediately.

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Remembrances
11:16 am
Fri June 26, 2015

'Fresh Air' Remembers Johnny Gimble, The 'King Of The Swing Fiddle'

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

Transcript

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The Texas Playboys are on the air.

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Author Interviews
11:16 am
Fri June 26, 2015

How Scientists Created A Typhus Vaccine In A 'Fantastic Laboratory'

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

Transcript

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Monkey See
7:42 am
Fri June 26, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Judy Blume's New Book And Lifetime's 'UnREAL'

Ariel Zambelich NPR

Originally published on Thu July 2, 2015 9:22 pm

This week's show finds us cracking open Judy Blume's new adult novel In The Unlikely Event (it's an adult novel as in a-novel-for-adults, not an adult novel as in "too sexy for polite company). Joined by our friend and librarian-in-chief Margaret Willison, we talk about the structure of the book, the character voices, Blume's particular brand of what Margaret calls "emotional immediacy," the balancing of period references in a book set largely in the early 1950s, and lots more.

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Author Interviews
3:18 pm
Thu June 25, 2015

Take A Walk With Judy Blume Through Her Old Miami Beach Neighborhood

Blume revisits her old Miami Beach school, Central Beach Elementary, which is now Fienberg Fisher K-8. Click here to go on a virtual tour of Blume's Miami Beach.
Left photo credit: Alicia Zuckerman Right photo credit: Copyright Judy Blume and used only with her written permisison

Originally published on Thu June 25, 2015 6:05 pm

When I was a kid, Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself was my favorite Judy Blume book. And when I moved to Miami Beach from New York eight and-a-half years ago, I realized something felt familiar — I was living in Sally's neighborhood.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu June 25, 2015

An American President Lost In The Wilderness Becomes 'Big Game'

Samuel L. Jackson as The President and Onni Tommila as Oskari in Big Game.
Stephanie Kulbach EuropaCorp

There may be no American cultural force more powerful than the cheesy action movie. For proof, look to Big Game, a spectacularly silly explosion extravaganza where a kid saves the world, co-starring Samuel L. Jackson as the President of the United States. Americans are not the movie's intended audience: Big Game is a Finnish production, helmed by Finnish director Jalmari Helander, set in the remote Nordic mountains and co-starring Finnish teen actor Omni Tommila.

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Science
1:12 pm
Thu June 25, 2015

Make Lava, Not War

The Salt
8:40 am
Thu June 25, 2015

A Toast To Butter Sculpture, The Art That Melts The Hearts Of The Masses

Art of the people: Fill a glass with hope, a butter sculpture crafted by Jim Victor and Marie Pelton. "People don't understand how [the sculpting] is done --€” it's like magic and just appears," Victor says. "But people understand butter."
Courtesy of Jim Victor and Marie Pelton

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 3:51 pm

In the Medieval era, kings and queens hosted feasts adorned with surprisingly complex edible sculptures depicting humans and animals alike. Outside the castle walls, of course, people struggled to put enough food on the table — much less, worry about its presentation afterward. But in the modern United States, food sculpture is the art of the people. Nowhere is this truer than the butter sculptures so common at Midwestern state fairs.

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Book Reviews
8:03 am
Thu June 25, 2015

'Keepers' Isn't One: A Critic's Highlight Reel Lacks Spark

iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu June 25, 2015 11:30 am

The truth and trouble of criticism is that it never really leaves behind personal opinion. At best it heightens that opinion by placing it in the framework of an argument, but no matter what, the exhibition of authority while judging art will always function somewhat as a masquerade.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu June 25, 2015

Going Through A Midlife Crisis? 'Summerlong' Is No Escape

Courtesy of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Originally published on Thu June 25, 2015 2:24 pm

Do not read this book if you are unhappy. It will kill you.

Don't read it if you're sad. Don't read it if you're restless. Don't read it if you're in pain or lost or choked with grief. Don't read it unless your marriage is rock-solid. Don't read it if, sometimes, you wake late at night and think of just slipping away in the dark, calculating how far away you'd be before anyone knew you were gone because if you do, Summerlong will take you down with it, man. It will break you.

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Author Interviews
12:46 pm
Wed June 24, 2015

'Project Fatherhood' Teaches Parenting Skills To Inner-City Dads

Originally published on Wed June 24, 2015 1:18 pm

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

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Book Reviews
12:46 pm
Wed June 24, 2015

'Patience And Fortitude' And The Fight To Save NYC's Storied Public Library

Cover detail of Scott Sherman's Patience and Fortitude.
Melville House Books

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 10:55 am

Since it opened in 1911, the building has become a New York City landmark, praised not only for its beauty but also for its functional brilliance. In the words of one contemporary architect, the main branch of The New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street is "a perfect machine for reading." The grand Reading Room sits atop seven levels of iron and steel books stacks whose contents could, at one time, be delivered to anybody who requested a book within a matter of minutes via a small elevator. Those stacks also support the floor of the Reading Room above.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed June 24, 2015

'Death' Uncovers The Secret History Of Mr. Pickwick

Lydia Thompson NPR

"One of my life's greatest tragedies," said George Orwell, "is to have already read Pickwick Papers. I can't go back and read it for the first time." The serialized novel of 1836 was one of the first commercial blockbusters of the English-speaking world. The author? A virtual unknown, a 24-year-old hired gun writing under the penname "Boz." The illustrator? A then well-known caricaturist, Robert Seymour, who provided a series of gently satiric etchings to illuminate the text.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed June 24, 2015

'The Cartel' Is A True Crime Adventure With A Killer Protagonist

Lydia Thompson NPR

Originally published on Wed June 24, 2015 7:01 am

The dedication of Don Winslow's novel The Cartel is nearly two pages long: a list of journalists who were either murdered or "disappeared" in Mexico between 2004 and 2012 — the period covered in this hugely hypnotic new thriller.

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Books
3:17 pm
Tue June 23, 2015

BuzzFeed's Saeed Jones Recommends Books Of Transformation For Summer

Originally published on Tue June 23, 2015 6:56 pm

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And it's summer - time to tackle all the books piling up on your nightstand, right? Well, Saeed Jones says let go of the guilt, and let your interests and curiosity guide your summer picks.

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Book Reviews
12:24 pm
Tue June 23, 2015

Algerian Writer Kamel Daoud Stands Camus' 'The Stranger' On Its Head

Other Press

Originally published on Tue June 23, 2015 5:19 pm

Back in college English, I was taught that it was foolish to think that fictional characters have any reality beyond the page. You shouldn't speculate about how many children Lady Macbeth had or what job Holden Caulfield wound up doing as a grown-up.

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Movie Interviews
12:24 pm
Tue June 23, 2015

'Me And Earl' Director Traces Path From Scorsese's Assistant To Sundance

Originally published on Tue June 23, 2015 3:55 pm

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

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Fine Art
12:24 pm
Tue June 23, 2015

Could The Masterpiece Be A Fake? Profit, Revenge And 'The Art Of Forgery'

In 2010 the Detroit Institute of Arts hosted the exhibit "Fakes, Forgeries, and Mysteries" — about how experts figure out whether artworks are authentic. Above, a painting titled A Female Saint (left) that was once attributed to Italian artist Sandro Botticelli is exhibited alongside The Resurrected Christ (right), a Botticelli painting from around 1480.
Paul Sancya AP

Michelangelo is known for masterpieces like the Sistine Chapel and the statue of David, but most people probably don't know that he actually got his start in forgery. The great artist began his career as a forger of ancient Roman sculptures, art scholar Noah Charney tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies.

By the time Michelangelo's forgery was revealed, the Renaissance master was famous in his own right. But many other artistic forgers continue to copy the work of past artists in the hopes of passing their creations off as authentic.

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The Two-Way
11:15 am
Tue June 23, 2015

Man Who Created The Pink Plastic Lawn Flamingo Dies

The flamingo ornament was one of hundreds of items that Donald Featherstone made for the Union Products plastics company.
Amy Sancetta AP

If you've got a plastic pink flamingo on your lawn, give it a pat on the back. The man who designed the lawn art, Donald Featherstone, has died. He was 79.

His wife, Nancy, tells The Associated Press that Featherstone died Monday and that he had battled Lewy body dementia.

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The Salt
10:00 am
Tue June 23, 2015

In The Japanese Tea Ceremony, Politics Are Served With Every Cup

Myanmar democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi (right) receives a bowl of green tea from Japanese tea master Genshitsu Sen at a tea ceremony in Kyoto during a 2013 visit to Japan.
STR/AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 23, 2015 4:33 pm

In the U.S., Tea Party politics refers to a certain strain of Republican conservatism. But in Japan, tea politics are of an altogether different sort: The ritual drinking of this ancient beverage — often thought of as the epitome of Japanese restraint and formality — has long been entwined with issues of power and national identity.

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The Two-Way
9:16 am
Tue June 23, 2015

James Horner, A Giant Among Movie Music Composers, Is Dead, Agents Say

Composer James Horner, seen here at a movie premiere in 2012, is believed to have died in a plane crash.
Gareth Cattermole Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 23, 2015 9:38 pm

Update: 11:30 p.m. ET

In a statement Tuesday night, the talent agency that represented Horner mourned "the tragic passing of our dear colleague."

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Book Reviews
8:08 am
Tue June 23, 2015

Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron, 'Eightball' Will Knock You Out

For a minute, forget there's anything significant about The Complete Eightball.

Forget that it contains the seminal works of one of the greatest artists in modern comics, unexpurgated for the first time since they were penned in the '90s. Forget about the charismatic heart-burnings of Ghost World's Enid Coleslaw, immortalized on film but originating in these pages. Forget the surreally hilarious horrors of Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron, also seen here for the first time.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Tue June 23, 2015

Carnivals, Curses And Mermaids Fall Slightly Flat In 'Speculation'

Lydia Thompson NPR

Books about books can be tricky things, a fact that Erika Swyler slyly acknowledges in her generous yet somewhat disappointing debut novel, The Book of Speculation. In it, a young librarian named Simon Watson finds himself in the midst of numerous erosions and breakdowns: His family has all but disintegrated following the death of his parents, budget cuts are threatening his job at a Long Island library, and the house that's belonged to his family for generations is in the process of gradual collapse.

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Fine Art
3:02 am
Tue June 23, 2015

Immortalized As 'The Woman In Gold,' How A Young Jew Became A Secular Icon

Adele Block-Bauer, photographed circa 1915, was from a prominent Jewish family in Vienna.
IMAGNO/Austrian Archives

Originally published on Tue June 23, 2015 11:34 am

In Woman in Gold, Helen Mirren plays Maria Altmann — an octogenarian Jewish refugee who fought to recover the Gustav Klimt paintings the Nazis seized from her family in Vienna at the outset of World War II. On Friday, Mirren received an award for her performance at New York's Neue Galerie, which is now home to more Klimts than anywhere else in the country.

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Movie Interviews
2:39 pm
Mon June 22, 2015

'Infinitely Polar Bear' Director Relives Childhood With Mentally Ill Parent

Originally published on Mon June 22, 2015 8:32 pm

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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It's All Politics
12:05 pm
Mon June 22, 2015

Obama Visits Marc Maron's Garage; Cats Annoyed They Were Shut In Bedroom

Originally published on Mon June 22, 2015 12:56 pm

Comedian Marc Maron's WTF podcast might not seem like the place for a typical presidential interview, but several months ago the White House reached out to Maron to see if he'd be interested in having Barack Obama as his guest. "I just didn't think that it would ever happen," Maron says.

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Book News & Features
5:03 am
Mon June 22, 2015

Longest Thou To Go On Summer Pilgrimage? Chaucer Hath Advice

Pilgrims leaving Canterbury, from text of the end of the Prologue to The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer.
British Library The Art Archive

Originally published on Mon June 22, 2015 7:58 am

Editor's Note: We've been having so much fun running advice columns from the Internet's own Chaucer Doth Tweet, we've brought him back to dispense wisdom on all things summery. As always, Middle English is involved.

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Television
4:18 pm
Sun June 21, 2015

The Human Drama Of Hacking Fuels TV Thriller 'Mr. Robot'

USA's Mr. Robot tells the story of a cyber-security engineer and vigilant hacker (played by Rami Malek) who also suffers from anxiety.
Sarah Shatz USA Network

Originally published on Mon June 22, 2015 8:13 am

Cyborgs and androids are nowhere to be seen in the new USA show Mr. Robot. Instead, the drama is centered on a very human interior — the mind of Elliot, the unlikely hacker hero. From his first words — "Hello, friend" — his voice-over keeps audiences squarely inside his world.

"Elliot is sort of an internal, isolated guy who can't really interact with people socially, in real life, but online he can hack them and knows all the intimate, private details of them," Sam Esmail, the show's creator and executive producer, tells NPR's Arun Rath.

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