Arts

Arts and culture

A dark and stormy night; an isolated manor house; a knock at the door. These are the surefire elements that have kept Agatha Christie's play The Mousetrap creaking continuously on the London stage ever since its premiere in 1952. And these are the very same elements that make Sadie Jones' new novel, The Uninvited Guests, such a delicious romp to read.

Ray Bradbury, author of The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451, died Tuesday. He was 91. Bradbury was known for his futuristic tales — but he never used a computer, or even drove a car.

Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Ill., in 1920 and grew up during the Great Depression. He said it was a time when people couldn't imagine the future, and his active imagination made him stand out. He once told Fresh Air's Terry Gross about exaggerating basic childhood fears, like monsters at the top of the stairs.

Author Ray Bradbury has died, his daughter tells The Associated Press. The wire service says Bradbury passed away Tuesday night.

'The Watch' Humanizes Both Sides Of A Classic Tale

Jun 6, 2012

Since it was first staged in Attica, Greece, 2,000 years ago, Sophocles' Antigone, the tragic tale of a princess sentenced to death for secretly burying her brother, an apparent traitor to their kingdom, has inspired many adaptations. European modernist playwrights Jean Cocteau, Jean Anouilh and Bertolt Brecht transformed it for the theater. Carl Orff wrote an opera based on it.

Can't afford the gas to take a road trip this summer? Not willing to spend a month's rent flying somewhere that's probably overcrowded and rainy anyhow? Empty pockets forcing you to embark upon that unholy phenomenon — gulp — the staycation?

The Sense of an Ending

Jun 5, 2012

NPR coverage of The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. News, author interviews, critics' picks and more.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz grew up in Gary, Ind. — a city that has weathered many economic storms over the past half-century.

Stiglitz went on to study at Amherst College and MIT, where he received a Ph.D. in economics. He later served on and chaired President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers and became the chief economist at the World Bank. But even as a child, Stiglitz says, he noticed ways in which the markets weren't working.

Gillian Flynn's new novel, Gone Girl, begins on the morning of Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary — the day Amy disappears.

It opens with a rather sinister reflection: "When I think of my wife," Nick says, "I always think of her head.... You could imagine the skull quite easily. I'd know her head anywhere."

Chances are, you're a liar. Maybe not a big liar — but a liar nonetheless. That's the finding of Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University. He's run experiments with some 30,000 people and found that very few people lie a lot, but almost everyone lies a little.

Andrei Makine has been hailed as a Russian Proust and a French Chekhov. This isn't as excessive as it sounds, though his new novel shares more with Solzhenitsyn for its vivid depiction of the hardships of war and labor camps and its critical assessment of the triviality of capitalist culture run amok.

Last week, The New York Times reported that Stuxnet, the computer worm that infected computers around the world in 2010, was developed by the United States in conjunction with Israel to destroy Iran's nuclear centrifuges.

"It appears to be the first time the United States has repeatedly used cyberweapons to cripple another country's infrastructure, achieving, with computer code, what until then could be accomplished only by bombing a country or sending in agents to plant explosives," wrote David Sanger, the paper's chief Washington correspondent.

There are stories both famous and infamous of children pushed into performing careers by their parents (Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, Judy Garland ... the list goes on and on). But Vanessa Perez has become a fine young pianist despite her mother's best efforts to keep her away from the performing arts.

'Shadow': New Light On Islamic History

Jun 3, 2012

Lightning from a clear sky — that's how historians have described the rise of Islam. Stories say the Prophet Muhammad received his revelations from the Angel Gabriel deep in the Arabian desert, hundreds of miles away from any outside influences. The Prophet was even said to be illiterate and therefore free of the taint of other religious writings.

'Dinner': A Ritual Of Love

Jun 3, 2012

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

One Man's Case For Regulating Hate Speech

Jun 3, 2012

Warning: This story contains language that some might find offensive.

In the late '70s, Skokie, Ill., became the epicenter of the debate over free speech in the U.S. The town was home to many Holocaust survivors, along with their families, and that made it a target for the National Socialist Party of America — a neo-Nazi group from nearby Chicago.

Noah Stewart: From 'Opera Boy' To Singer

Jun 3, 2012

When tenor Noah Stewart was growing up in Harlem, N.Y., his friends called him "opera boy." They were onto something.

Earlier this year, he became the first black singer to hit No. 1 on the classical music charts in the U.K.

But Stewart's musical tastes aren't confined to Puccini, Bizet and Strauss, and his new, self-titled album gives him a chance to put his mark on everything from American spirituals to Top 40 hits.

Stewart says he doesn't mind being called an opera singer, but that he would rather just be called a singer.

It's been a good season for stargazers, a veritable meteor shower of astronomical goodies, from a supermoon to a solar eclipse. Next up? On Tuesday, June 5, astronomy enthusiasts can witness the Transit of Venus — one of the rarest astronomical events.

During the six-hour transit, Venus moves in between the Earth and the sun. It's a daytime phenomenon: "Instead of seeing Venus as the brightest object in the night sky, you see Venus as a tiny black dot crossing the burning disc of the sun," explains Andrea Wulf, author of Chasing Venus.

Here are three remarkable facts about motels in the U.S. that you probably don't already know:

- At least 1 out of 2 motels are owned by Indian-Americans.

- Out of those Indian-owned motels, 70 percent are owned by Gujaratis, people with roots in the western Indian state of Gujarat.

- Of those Gujaratis, three-fourths share the last name Patel. There's even a name for these overnight establishments: "Patel Motels."

Today, Americans take bananas for granted. They're cheap, they're ripe, they're everywhere. But take a moment and consider: How did a pale, fragile tropical fruit become so commonplace in America? Immigrants arriving at the South Ferry terminal, where the Ellis Island ferry landed, were once handed bananas and told, "Welcome to America."

In just a few weeks, the world will descend on London for the Olympic Games.

But the world goes to London every day, according to Boris Johnson, the former journalist who has just been re-elected mayor of London. In his new book, Johnson says people don't just visit the city, they've made their lives there for centuries now. It's a city, Johnson writes, where national soccer teams from all over the world can show up and count on crowds of thousands of fans to support them.

What would it be like if you were 10 years old and composed a piece of music that was played by the New York Philharmonic? For a few New York City school kids, including one fifth-grader, it's a dream come true, thanks to the orchestra's Very Young Composers program.

Composer Jon Deak, who played bass with the New York Philharmonic for more than 40 years, says the idea for Very Young Composers came when he and conductor Marin Alsop visited an elementary school in Brooklyn several years ago.

Colin Powell's collection of lessons and personal anecdotes, It Worked For Me, debuts at No. 6.

  • Today, a Turkish court approved the indictment of pianist and composer Fazil Say for inciting hatred and public enmity and insulting "religious values" in a series of Twitter posts. One of his lawyers says that he has also received death threats. The trial has been scheduled for October 18.

NPR Bestsellers: Week Of May 31, 2012

Jun 1, 2012

Compiled from weekly surveys of close to 500 independent bookstores nationwide.

Canada, about a teen's quest to find peace in the Saskatchewan prairie, debuts at No. 3.

Train Dreams, in which a man struggles for survival after losing his family, debuts at No. 11.

Steal Like An Artist strives to put readers in touch with the artist within. It debuts at No. 11.

Jean-Yves Thibaudet On Song Travels

Jun 1, 2012

French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet is one of the leading performers on today's classical-music scene. He has more than 40 albums to his credit, including interpretations of the classical repertoire, as well as music by George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and Bill Evans.

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

People looking at the scientific world from the outside often see it as one dominated by facts, where scientists use a stepwise, systematic process that begins - you know, you learned all this stuff in grade school, a hypothesis, the collection of data, of observations, blah, blah, blah, you go through all these steps.

Music Depreciation 101

Jun 1, 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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