Arts

Deceptive Cadence
11:42 am
Thu July 5, 2012

Tanglewood, My Family's Transcendental Homeland

Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood.
Steve Rosenthal courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra

Originally published on Fri July 6, 2012 5:02 pm

The barn reeked of mildew, wet wood in 90 degrees, an odious perfume with which I was familiar from a childhood in a Long Island canal town peppered with planked houses. I opened my instrument's case to see the hygrometer's needle stuck on the highest humidity level: assurance that my first professional-grade violin would not crack, or, to the great aural pleasure of Katja, my radiant Austrian stand partner with superb pitch, remain in tune.

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Book Reviews
7:03 am
Thu July 5, 2012

Dethroning The 'Drama Queen Of The Mind'

Originally published on Thu July 5, 2012 1:26 pm

Here's one less thing for Daniel Smith to worry about: He sure can write. In Monkey Mind, a memoir of his lifelong struggles with anxiety, he defangs the experience with a winning combination of humor and understanding.

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Books
3:08 am
Thu July 5, 2012

August 'Snow-Storm' Brought Devastation To D.C.

Originally published on Thu July 5, 2012 10:25 pm

In 1835, Washington, D.C., was a city in transition: Newly freed African-Americans were coming north and for the first time beginning to outnumber the city's slaves. That demographic shift led to a violent upheaval — all but forgotten today.

Few of the city's buildings from that time remain, but you can still sense what it was like, if you sit in a park by the White House, as NPR's Steve Inskeep did with writer Jefferson Morley.

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Book Reviews
4:08 pm
Wed July 4, 2012

Review: 'The Dream Of The Celt'

Alan Cheuse reviews The Dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa. Cheuse teaches creative writing at George Mason University.

Books
2:53 pm
Wed July 4, 2012

The 5 Best Book Stories You Must Read This Week

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed July 4, 2012 6:15 pm

If you're like me, you probably have stacks of books sitting around your home waiting to be cracked open.

Despite my apartment's messy milieu, the piles are actually carefully curated in the order of what I plan to tackle next. Of course, the stacks tend to grow faster than I can read, but no matter.

Here are this week's five best stories from NPR Books. They'll grow your piles, but I promise, these books are worth it.

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Interviews
3:28 am
Wed July 4, 2012

Jimmy Fallon's Tribute To Neil Young

Jimmy Fallon says he spends almost 12 hours each day at the Late Night offices, which makes the rest of his life difficult. "If I want to play video games now, I have to schedule it," he tells Terry Gross.
Virginia Sherwood NBC

Originally published on Wed July 4, 2012 11:08 am

We're replaying a portion of this interview today. Specifically, it's the part where Jimmy Fallon imitates Neil Young. Why? Because we're also playing our Neil Young interview today. If you're like to listen to the full Jimmy Fallon interview, you can do so here.

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Author Interviews
3:28 am
Wed July 4, 2012

A Pie For All Regions: Serving Up The American Slice

A Northeastern Bakewell Pie (left) and Western Chocolate Raisin Pie cool on author Adrienne Kane's Connecticut kitchen counter.
Adrienne Kane

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 11:09 am

We hold this truth to be self-evident: America loves pie. We, the people, a nation of bakers and eaters, value the art of creating that crispy, gooey, fluffy, fruity dessert — and each region reserves the right to bake the treat in its own individual style.

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Deceptive Cadence
3:27 am
Wed July 4, 2012

From 'Glee' To Gettysburg: Brian Stokes Mitchell Speaks For Lincoln

Brian Stokes Mitchell records A Lincoln Portrait at NPR's Studio 4A in April.
Doriane Raiman NPR

Originally published on Wed July 4, 2012 5:08 am

Aaron Copland is considered one of America's greatest composers. Among his most famous works is a tribute to an iconic figure in American history. In 1942, Copland wrote A Lincoln Portrait, which features a full orchestra playing while a narrator reads excerpts from Lincoln's speeches and other writings.

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PG-13: Risky Reads
4:48 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

Bordellos, Bandits And One Big Mississippi Adventure

cover detail
cover detail

Originally published on Tue July 3, 2012 7:06 pm

W. Ralph Eubanks is the author of Ever Is a Long Time and The House at the End of the Road. He is director of publishing at the Library of Congress.

The work of William Faulkner looms as a mountain too high to climb for many readers, with his long, complex sentences and shifting point of view. But Faulkner's famously tangled mix of literary techniques meant nothing when I was about 12 years old and picked up a copy of The Reivers.

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Deceptive Cadence
2:31 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

'Dead Man Walking' Sings Again

Joyce DiDonato as Sister Helen Prejean and Philip Cutlip as Joseph De Rocher in Jake Heggie's opera Dead Man Walking.
Felix Sanchez courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

Originally published on Wed July 4, 2012 8:03 pm

It's so rare for a new opera — let alone a new American opera — to be recorded even once. But few new operas have been so rapturously received as Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, which recounts the true story of a Catholic nun, Sister Helen Prejean, and the convicted rapist and double murderer Joseph De Rocher before he was executed by the state of Louisiana.

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Books
1:30 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

'Monkey Mind': When Debilitating Anxiety Takes Over

Author and journalist Daniel Smith teaches English at the College of New Rochelle in New York.
Tyler Maroney

Originally published on Thu July 5, 2012 11:18 am

There's a lot to be anxious about — an upcoming job interview, a first date or perhaps a big presentation at work. For some, anxiety can be much more than just sweaty palms and quivering hands. It can be a debilitating condition with severe physical and mental effects.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that nearly 40 million American adults suffer from a wide range of anxiety disorders — from acute nervousness and increased heart rate to full-on panic attacks.

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Politics
11:05 am
Tue July 3, 2012

Marco Rubio Draws On Family To Keep Him Grounded

Originally published on Tue July 3, 2012 12:03 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Later in the program, we'll talk about the latest chapter in the work/family debate that's taken off from a provocative magazine piece written by former State Department official Anne-Marie Slaughter. She resigned her high profile post after two years saying she needed to spend more time with family. And she meant it. We'll ask our panel of regulars in our parenting segment to join her to talk about her piece "Why Women Still Can't Have It All."

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Author Interviews
9:57 am
Tue July 3, 2012

Henry Louis Gates Jr.: A Life Spent Tracing Roots

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is perhaps best known for his research tracing the family and genetic history of famous African Americans. A selection of his writings on race, politics and culture appear in The Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Reader. Originally broadcast May 8, 2012.

Author Interviews
9:57 am
Tue July 3, 2012

Cooking Everything? Bittman Gets Back To 'Basics'

In his new book, How to Cook Everything: The Basics, Mark Bittman explains with careful instructions and 1,000 colorful photos how to stock your pantry, how to dice vegetables, which knives you should buy �" and to really get back to basics �" how to boil water. Originally broadcast March 19, 2012.

Book Reviews
7:03 am
Tue July 3, 2012

'Gold' Offers A Winning Take On Cycling

iStockphoto.com

You're going to be hearing a lot about Chris Cleave's gold-medal performance in his first novel since his mega-best-seller, Little Bee. That's because Gold is a heart-pounding, winning tearjerker about three elite cyclists fiercely competing through three successive Olympics — including, most topically, the one about to take place in London this summer. If Olympic medals were awarded for dramatic stories about what drives athletes to compete and succeed, Cleave would easily ascend the podium.

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Critics' Lists: Summer 2012
7:03 am
Tue July 3, 2012

Lesser-Known Lit: Seeking Summer's Hidden Gems

Harriet Russell

Originally published on Tue July 3, 2012 2:35 pm

I know, I know. You've already started tearing through Bring Up the Bodies, pre-ordered Canada and — since you pretend to have read the first few massive volumes of his LBJ bio — uploaded Robert Caro's latest history lesson to your Kindle. Spoiler: The pres dies in the end.

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Books
3:28 am
Tue July 3, 2012

Dog Memoirs Will Fetch, Sit And Stay On Your Shelf

Gromit is the purebred Pembroke Welsh corgi belonging to NPR's Julie Rovner — who says she's hoping to eventually adopt a companion pooch named Wallace.
Julie Rovner

Originally published on Tue July 3, 2012 2:13 pm

The Morning Edition mailboxes are always overflowing with books sent by publishers. And recently, a fair number have fallen into a category you might call "dog memoirs" — books about how dogs transform their owners' lives.

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Author Interviews
3:20 am
Tue July 3, 2012

A Cautionary Tale About Transforming Afghanistan

Scores of Americans engineers worked in southern Afghanistan from the late 1940s to the late 1970s to build two large dams and a canal network. The development project soon became a vast experiment in social engineering. New villages were constructed, with schools and health clinics. A new, modern society was to rise from the desert.
Courtesy of the U.S. National Archives via Foreign Policy

Originally published on Tue July 3, 2012 1:05 pm

The plan in Afghanistan was ambitious. Americans would set up a base in one of the most remote parts of one of the world's most isolated countries. The project would last many years and cost large sums of money. And in the end, Afghanistan, or at least one small part of it, would be a new, modern country.

When Americans think of large-scale U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, most would point to the Sept. 11 attacks that prompted the American invasion of the country in 2001.

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Deceptive Cadence
4:17 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

Copland's 'Lincoln Portrait': Honest Abe's Oratory, Tailored For Orchestra

Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 26, 2012 12:39 pm

Brooklyn-born Aaron Copland was an American original in more ways than one. It's not just his music, with its openness and simple elegance. It's that he expected ballet dancers to act like cowboys, pianists to play blues and orchestra players to accompany political speechmaking. His Lincoln Portrait, composed during World War II, matches words from our 16th president with symphonic music.

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Books
2:11 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

The Internal Politics At War In 'Little America'

In Little America, Washington Post correspondent Rajiv Chandrasekaran details the difficulties that followed the 2009 troop surge in Afghanistan.
Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 3, 2012 12:11 pm

On assignment in southern Afghanistan in 2009, Washington Post correspondent Rajiv Chandrasekaran waded through chest-high water with U.S. Marines, through canals originally dug by Americans 60 years ago. There, he discovered a massive Cold War project to transform the Helmand River Valley through electrification and modern agriculture in an area once known as "Little America."

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Deceptive Cadence
1:57 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

Summer Souvenirs: 75 Years Of Tanglewood In Pictures

Seiji Ozawa and Arthur Fielder, aboard a train during Tanglewood on Parade, 1975.
Heinz Weissenstein/Whitestone Photo courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 3:34 pm

Join us Friday as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of Tanglewood, the summer music festival that is both the seasonal home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a legendary destination in its own right.

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Book Reviews
12:39 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

'The Age Of Miracles' Considers Earth's Fragility

iStock

The Age of Miracles is literary fiction, but it spins out the same kind of "what if?" disaster plot that distinguishes many a classic sci-fi movie. Too bad the title The Day the Earth Stood Still was already taken, because it really would have been the perfect title for Thompson's novel.

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Book Reviews
7:03 am
Mon July 2, 2012

Unicorns And Witches And Wild Mood Swings, Oh My!

Cover Detail

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 12:11 pm

Petra Mayer is an associate editor at NPR Books.

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Crime In The City
3:33 am
Mon July 2, 2012

Philly Author's 'Confession': I Lived These Stories

Author Solomon Jones bases his work on his own experiences on the streets of Philadelphia.
Milton Perry

Originally published on Thu July 5, 2012 4:49 pm

Philadelphia may be called the City of Brotherly Love, but author Solomon Jones sees the sadder, more complex side of the city.

Jones' books feature Philly police detective Mike Coletti. When we meet him in The Last Confession, he's on the verge of retirement, but before he can head off into the sunset, he's got to confront some demons from his past and catch a serial killer calling himself the Angel of Death.

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Author Interviews
4:03 pm
Sun July 1, 2012

The Complex 'Tapestry' of Michelle Obama's Ancestry

Fraser and Marian Shields Robinson raised their children, Craig and Michelle, in Chicago, but their family's ancestry can be traced back to pre-abolition Georgia.
Barack Obama Campaign

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 10:17 am

When Michelle Obama's great-great-great grandmother was 8 years old, her life underwent a dramatic change.

Melvinia Shields was a slave who grew up at a South Carolina estate with a relatively large community of slaves she knew well. But then she was moved to a small farm in northern Georgia where she was one of only three slaves; most white people in the area didn't own any.

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Author Interviews
5:46 am
Sun July 1, 2012

'Hitless Wonder': On Tour With A Band Of Also-Rans

Colin Gawel (second from right) and Joe Oestreich (second from left) formed Watershed 27 years ago in Columbus, Ohio. They now tour with Dave Masica (left) and Joe Peppercorn (right).
Courtesy of Globe Pequot Press

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 10:17 am

Barring a massive shake-up of the Billboard charts — and American tastes — "Little Mistakes" will not be the song of the summer. But that's not for lack of trying.

The song is the lead single off Brick and Mortar, the latest album by Watershed — a band from Columbus, Ohio, that most people have never heard of. But they have been playing dingy bars, tiny clubs and even the occasional arena for 27 years.

That career has inspired a new memoir called Hitless Wonder: A Life in Minor League Rock and Roll, written by one of the band's founders, Joe Oestreich.

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Author Interviews
5:16 pm
Sat June 30, 2012

'Billy Lynn' A Full-Bore Tale Of Wartime Iraq

Ben Fountain sets his new novel in Texas Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys from 1971 to 2008.
Al Messerschmidt Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 10:19 am

Billy Lynn is a 19-year-old college dropout living in the small Texas town where he grew up. After he's arrested for trashing the car of his sister's ex, he's given two choices: face jail time or enlist in the Army.

He chooses the Army. And Iraq.

Author Ben Fountain's debut novel, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, is the story of what happens to Lynn after he joins Bravo Company in the early years of the Iraq war.

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Author Interviews
5:54 am
Sat June 30, 2012

In 'Gold,' Olympic Rivalry Is Personal, Professional

Originally published on Sat June 30, 2012 7:32 am

More than 10,000 athletes are headed to London this summer to run, swim, cycle, shoot, fence and compete in the events of the Olympic Games. Each of them has a story — what they've won, what they've lost and what they've sacrificed just to get their chance to get there.

Chris Cleave's latest novel, Gold, tells the stories of three world-ranked cyclists — Zoe, Jack and Kate — who are training for their last chance at Olympic gold. Zoe and Kate are friends as well as rivals; Jack and Kate are raising an 8-year-old who suffers from leukemia.

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Music News
4:54 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Young Musicians Leave Nest For New Opportunities

Nathan Schram (back row, third from left) performs with his students from PS 75 in Brooklyn.
Stephanie Berger Getty Images

Originally published on Sat June 30, 2012 8:48 am

The odds of making it in the classical music business are long, but for the past two years, 25-year-old viola player Nathan Schram has received a stipend, health insurance, lots of amazing performance opportunities and a real-world education teaching violin students at an inner-city elementary school in Brooklyn. Now, Schram and his colleagues have to say goodbye to The Academy.

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NPR's Backseat Book Club
4:17 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Gross-Out Gags AND Life Lessons In 'Wimpy Kid'

Jeff Kinney Abrams

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 10:26 pm

We've chosen some popular books for our monthly Backseat Book Club selections, but nothing quite like the boffo best-sellers in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.

How popular are these books? Consider the numbers: There are six books, and a seventh is on the way. They've been translated into 40 languages and there are 75 million copies in print worldwide. And it was our 2009 interview with author Jeff Kinney that originally inspired us to start a book club just for kids.

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