Arts

Arts and culture

'Tender' Stories Are A Feast Of Ideas

Apr 20, 2017

Sofia Samatar's duology of novels, 2013's A Stranger in Olondria and last year's The Winged Histories, took place in a mythic land of Olondria — a place where words are equal to religion, politics, and magic in the power they hold over people. It's one of the most dreamlike and far-flung settings in contemporary fantasy, and it's netted Samatar a World Fantasy Award, a British Fantasy Award, and the John W. Campbell Award.

In one of my favorite paintings of Joan of Arc — created by Jules Bastien-Lepage at the end of the 19th century — a disheveled, flush-faced teenager stares into the middle distance in the tangle of a garden. Behind her, faint images of saints emerge from the foliage. Unlike so many other paintings of Joan in which she's clad in armor and wields a sword, this one shows the time and place where her mind opened, and she encountered the thing that would both define and destroy her.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The third season of the hit TV drama "Fargo" begins tonight. And with it comes a challenge - maintaining high quality with new stories and new characters. Based on the first two episodes, NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says "Fargo" delivers.

In 2017 alone, Merriam-Webster added more than 1,000 words to its dictionary.

The 1996 Coen Brothers movie Fargo was so good, and so original, that when the FX cable network announced it was making a new version for television, I expected it to be awful — especially since the creator of the adaptation was Noah Hawley, a writer-producer who hadn't really done much.

CANDIDA: Can we bring back those days again?

On April 19, 1987, a momentous event happened: America was introduced to one of its most enduring families, The Simpsons.

A lot of teenage girls grow up looking to magazines like Seventeen or Teen Vogue for tips on fashion and dating. But for some conservative Christian girls and their parents, those magazines can seem a bit risqué. For about two decades starting in 1990, the evangelical Christian group Focus on the Family offered an alternative: Brio magazine, which is making a comeback in May.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been at the forefront of progressive politics over the last year.

She has sparred with President Trump on Twitter, and she was reprimanded by Republicans on the Senate floor earlier this year. Now she has written a new book, This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle To Save America's Middle Class.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Former Obama staffer Alyssa Mastromonaco is well acquainted with the privilege — and sleeplessness — of working in the White House: "I basically ran on adrenaline, almost, for six years," she says.

Mastromonaco began as President Obama's director of scheduling and advance, then became his deputy chief of staff for operations. Her responsibilities ran the gamut from overseeing the confirmation process for Cabinet secretaries to managing the president's daily schedule and foreign travel.

It's not just Hamilton.

Musicals have always had a built-in advantage as cultural products. Individual songs can translate and build interest via cast albums or Tony telecasts in a way that's very difficult for plays to emulate. A lot of kids grow up on musicals like Grease and Annie -- and, yes, now Hamilton — while early introductions to plays, however great, might make them seem impenetrable or like homework. (I'm looking at you, William Shakespeare, and doing so lovingly.)

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

HBO's Girls ended as it began — as a fitful, contradictory, occasionally irritating, often brilliant little story about a stupendously self-involved Millennial girl who just might be on her way to figuring out what it means to be a woman.

About 50 pages into Pajtim Statovci's debut novel, the protagonist Bekim meets a cat in a Finnish gay bar. The cat is wearing human clothes and singing along to Cher's "Believe," and Bekim, for reasons that are not quite adequately explained, is immediately attracted to him. "The cat was such a wonderful, beautiful, gifted interpreter that I took him in my arms without waiting for any indication to do so, and straightaway I noticed that his silky smooth fur smelled good and that his body was muscular from top to tail," Bekim gushes.

Ever since election night last November, millions in America and around the world have wondered what happened to Hillary Clinton, who was widely expected to become the first female president of the United States.

In fact, nearly everyone in the business of politics thought she would win, including many of Trump's own people.

So how did she lose?

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A 23-year-old, Russian-born violinist named Artem Kolesov is capturing international attention after posting a YouTube video in which he comes out as gay.

Note: This piece discusses the plot details from the sixth-season premiere of Veep.

Generations ago, the American Indian Osage tribe was compelled to move. Not for the first time, white settlers pushed them off their land in the 1800s. They made their new home in a rocky, infertile area in northeast Oklahoma in hopes that settlers would finally leave them alone.

As it turned out, the land they had chosen was rich in oil, and in the early 20th century, members of the tribe became spectacularly wealthy. They bought cars and built mansions; they made so much oil money that the government began appointing white guardians to "help" them spend it.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RAY SUAREZ, HOST:

Copyright 2017 WVTF Public Radio. To see more, visit WVTF Public Radio.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

What does it mean to be human? In Lidia Yuknavitch's new novel The Book of Joan, what's left of the human race is orbiting above the Earth, sexless and ageless, prisoners in a technological hell. Their lives are preserved through growing limbs and grafting skin. Presiding over it all is a one-time billionaire celebrity who evolved through media and technology into a despot.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

What will our dinners look like when temperatures and sea levels rise and water floods our coastal towns and cities?

Allie Wist, 29, an associate art director at Saveur magazine, attempts to answer that question in her latest art project, "Flooded." It's a fictional photo essay (based on real scientific data) about a dinner party menu at a time when climate change has significantly altered our diets.

A Strange Odyssey Through Bulgaria In 'Shadow Land'

Apr 16, 2017

In 2005, I read a book so suspenseful, so laden with longing that I could not put it down: The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova. In 2010, her sophomore effort, The Swan Thieves, thrilled me slightly less, but made up for its lack of suspense with a delicate dance through the world of fine art. However, both novels lacked something else — a sense of grounding and purpose. I could sense it somewhere not far off, but it didn't yet exist.

According to Audrey Shafer, there is something profound in the moment a patient wakes up from surgery.

She would know — she's an anesthesiologist. She's responsible for people when they are at their most vulnerable: unconscious, unable to breathe on their own or even blink their eyes.

As a result, Shafer says, a kind of intimate trust forms between her and her patients. It's this closeness that moves her to write poetry about medicine.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

All right. Let's take a poetry break. It's time now for some more of your Twitter poems in honor of National Poetry Month. Here are two that deal with the old saying write what you know. This one is from Dionne Sims in Minneapolis, Minn.

Pages