Arts

Arts and culture

A Memoir About Mothers, Memory And Loss

Jun 1, 2012

This interview was originally broadcast on January 11, 2011.

Writer Mira Bartok was 40 years old when a semi-trailer hurled into her car on the New York Thruway. The force of the accident whipped the inside of her brain against her skull, causing what's known as coup contrecoup, a type of traumatic brain injury that for Bartok, affected both her long- and short-term memory.

Do All Of Us Possess Genius?

Jun 1, 2012

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Creative Process.

About Elizabeth Gilbert's TEDTalk

When Does Creativity Start And End?

Jun 1, 2012

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Creative Process.

About Billy Collins TEDTalk

A Passage To India: From The Annals Of The Raj

Jun 1, 2012

Krishnadev Calamur is an editor at NPR.org. His debut novel, Murder in Mumbai, is being published in July.

J.R. Ackerley's Hindoo Holiday is like a perfect summer dessert: light, airy and with that hint of tartness which makes it truly satisfying. I feel guilty every time I read it; not because of the quality of writing, which is superb, but from the endless mirth the characters provide — in their appearances, beliefs and even in the way they speak.

This month, NPR's Backseat Book Club hits the high seas for an adventurous novel called Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus. The book begins in 1841, and is based on the sprawling true-life tale of Manjiro, whose destiny was almost determined before birth as a son in a long line of fishermen. But a storm blew his life on a new course, and he became one of the first Japanese to set foot in America.

The next installment in NPR's Backseat Book Club heads back to where this all started: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney. It was our 2009 interview with Kinney that sparked the idea for a special book club dedicated to kids. On the day before Kinney arrived at our studios, we asked our youngest listeners to send us the questions they would put to the author of the blockbuster series. We were floored by the response. An avalanche of emails hit our inbox from kids all over the country.

Personal Reflections On Gone With The Wind

May 31, 2012

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

The novel "Gone with the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell is an American classic. As with any great book, it inspires wildly different responses from readers. It's also the subject of our latest PG-13, where we hear from authors about the books that introduced them to the world of adult ideas.

NPR Staff Confesses Love for "Teen" Reads

May 31, 2012

We've all experienced it: the shiver of nervous excitement as each turn of the page unveiled new, provocative ideas.

Pause. Get your mind out of the gutter!

Increasingly, Internet users are working "in the cloud" — creating and sending data that isn't stored on local hard drives. It's easy to imagine our emails and photos swirling around in cyberspace without a physical home — but that's not really how it works. Those files are still stored somewhere, but you can only find them if you know where to look.

Every summer for the past 33 years, a widely scattered group of close friends my husband made in summer camp in the 1960s has rented a beach house on the Jersey Shore for two weeks. I was enfolded into the group some five years into its existence. Apart from the camaraderie — which is precious beyond measure — one of the pleasures of returning to the same place every year lies in observing the subtle changes in the landscape: some new sand on a beach that's suffered erosion; the appearance of a new coffee-and-bagel joint within jogging distance of the rental house.

'Me The People': A Less Than Perfect Parody

May 31, 2012

At the beginning of Me the People: One Man's Selfless Quest to Rewrite the Constitution of the United States of America, Kevin Bleyer calls our founding document "a God-sanctioned, fully realized, blessed, immutable, rock-solid, entirely glorified and purely calcified ... piece of [censored]." And despite what our current batch of lawmakers might have you believe, he's not alone in that opinion.

Growing Up And Grasping Gone With The Wind

May 30, 2012

Jesmyn Ward's novel Salvage the Bones was the 2011 winner of the National Book Award for Fiction.

When I was 13 I went to a small, mostly white, Episcopalian, junior high school.

Much of my free time was spent lurking in the library. I'd transferred from a more diverse public school, and as a working-class black kid, I felt out of place.

That's about the time I pulled Gone With the Wind from the library shelf.

Summer Books 2012: Cool Reads For Hot Days

May 30, 2012

Summer is glorious and far too short to waste on the wrong book. Let the NPR critics you know and trust help you find the year's best fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, cookbooks and more.

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

Jodi Picoult's latest novel is Between the Lines.

One of my first childhood memories is of the moment I got my own library card, so it's clear that I grew up in a family of readers. I always had a book in my hand, and as I grew into my preteen years I began to veer away from the All-Of-A-Kind Family series to more modern Judy Blume novels, whose heroines held a mirror up to my own life. You can imagine my shock, then, when one day I came home from the library with Forever by Judy Blume — and was told by my mother that I wasn't allowed to read it.

German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, who died earlier this month at age 86, was a paragon of excellence for generations of singers and fans. After his passing, we called American baritone Thomas Hampson for his memories of Fischer-Dieskau, whom he has called "a Singer for the ages, an Artist for eternity."

Franz Kafka published just a few short stories and a novella during his lifetime, yet he was considered one of the 20th century's most influential writers.

The rest of his work was largely kept secret, and literary scholars have long wondered what gems they might find among Kafka's papers.

The answer may ultimately lie on Tel Aviv's Spinoza Street, inside a small, squat apartment building covered with dirty, pinkish stucco that looks like it's seen better days.

New In Paperback May 28-June 3

May 30, 2012

Fiction and nonfiction releases from Daniel Orozco, Donald Rumsfeld, Jim Axelrod and Simon Kuper.

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

PROGRAM:

  • BACH Partita No. 1 in B-flat Major, BWV 825

  • SCHUBERT Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960

  • CHOPIN Twelve Etudes, Op. 25

  • LISZT Romance, S. 169

  • LiSZT Grande Etude de Paganini, S. 141 "La Campanella"

Zoltan Barbu is a once-exalted author now exiled in Los Angles. He wears capes, seduces actresses in Jacuzzis and hasn't produced anything in decades. If it sounds cliche, that is the point. In Ménage, her first novel in 25 years, the feminist writer Alix Kates Shulman has given us a modern parable: caricatured characters interacting and standing in for real-world archetypes. Zoltan, predictably enough, is her catalyst.

Britten's War Requiem: 50 Years On, Still As Harrowing As Ever

May 29, 2012

There are two war-related anniversaries this week that make today's album review all the more timely. Yesterday was Memorial Day here in the U.S.; tomorrow, May 30, marks 50 years since the world premiere of English composer Benjamin Britten's War Requiem at Coventry Cathedral. The War Requiem was commissioned for the cathedral's reconsecration after it had been destroyed by a Nazi bombing raid in 1940.

'I Am The Cheese': A Nightmarish Nail-Biter

May 29, 2012

Ben Marcus is the author of The Flame Alphabet.

I Am the Cheese opens with Adam Farmer riding his bike. He carries a package for his father and needs to get it to him fast. So far, it's a perfectly harmless adventure story.

'Selected Poems': The Essential Nabokov In Verse

May 29, 2012

The publication of Vladimir Nabokov's Selected Poems is a major literary event. The great, grand and much missed novelist (Lolita, Pale Fire) was "first a poet," as the book's editor Thomas Karshan writes. Yet there hasn't been a new collection of his poetry in more than three decades — which is especially shocking given the insatiable hunger for his work.

Digital books are the fastest growing area of publishing. Libraries are seeing a surge in demand for e-book titles as well, but there's a downside. Most major publishers won't allow libraries to lend their titles, while others impose restrictions or charge double or triple the print price.

One of the first things Michelle Obama did as first lady was to dig up part of the beautifully manicured South Lawn of the White House and plant a vegetable garden. The garden was just one of Obama's many efforts to encourage Americans to eat nutritious food and live healthier lives. Her latest project, a book called American Grown, is a diary of that garden through the seasons and a portrait of gardening in America, past and present.

Vanessa Perez: A Rising Star From Venezuela

May 27, 2012

Some of the best recent classical music stories have come from Venezuela, that country's youth orchestra program El Sistema and its most popular graduate, Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel.

When the Canadian Brass came to NPR for a Tiny Desk Concert, the group kicked off the show with a piece its members say has been central to its repertoire for more than 40 years. It's a transcription of an organ work, Johann Sebastian Bach's "Little" Fugue in G Minor.

If you drive about an hour and a half north of Santa Fe, N.M., into a place called the Chama Canyon, you might hear the clanging of church bells in the distance. The Monastery of Christ in the Desert was founded there in 1964 and is home to a community of Benedictine monks. They spend their days in prayer, work, meditation — and music.

PROGRAM:

  • BACH Partita No. 1 in B-flat Major, BWV 825

  • SCHUBERT Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960

  • CHOPIN Twelve Etudes, Op. 25

  • LISZT Romance, S. 169

  • LiSZT Grande Etude de Paganini, S. 141 "La Campanella"

Yet More News From 'Opera News'

May 25, 2012

Got an idea for a classical cartoon, or a reaction to this one? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Pablo Helguera is a New York-based artist working with sculpture, drawing, photography and performance. You can see more of his work at Artworld Salon and on his own site.

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