Arts

Arts and culture

Personal Essays Engage Power Of Poetry

Jun 28, 2012

Ralph Waldo Emerson tells us that poets are the beholders of ideas and the announcers of human experience's necessary and casual details. Poets sing the songs of their selves and of nations. Even Emily Dickinson tells us she sings "to use the Waiting."

Last week, we broke the news of our Washington Desk Editor's stealthy side: NPR's Ron Elving kept his PG-13 reading indulgence purposefully hidden from his father (it's just more fun that way!).

Today, NPR Librarian Kee Malesky looks back on the YA novel – and its strong, female protagonist and fellow Brooklynite – which inspired her to grow self-reliant and to pursue her passions:

After the airline industry was deregulated in 1978, flying changed considerably.

Some of those changes have improved commercial flying, but others have made the skies much less friendly, says journalist and airline veteran William J. McGee.

McGee's new book, Attention All Passengers, details how airlines are cutting costs through regional carriers, outsourcing airline maintenance, mishandling baggage and overbooking airplanes.

One day, Beth Howard got a phone call everyone dreads — she learned her husband passed away. Overwhelmed by grief and regret, she decided she needed something sweet in her life, so she began traveling the country, sampling and making pies. Howard speaks with guest host Viviana Hurtado about her book, Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie.

For New York Polyphony, it's location, location, location. The four-man vocal ensemble thrives on music from the Renaissance, much of it designed for cavernous, reverberant spaces. Think voices soaring through arched cathedrals. But madrigals by Flemish composer Orlando di Lasso, with their more intimate storytelling vibe, are suited for smaller venues — like, say, the living room of New York Polyphony bass Craig Phillips.

Joshua Henkin opens his third novel with a dramatic setup. Leo Frankel has been killed while reporting from Iraq for Newsday. He was kidnapped and videotaped in a way reminiscent of how American journalist Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter, was killed in Pakistan in 2002. Over the past decade, dozens of newspeople have been killed each year in war zones, making this a timely subject for fiction. But Henkin places Leo's dramatic death offstage, telling it in sketchy snippets.

New In Paperback: June 25-July 1

Jun 27, 2012

Fiction and nonfiction releases from Amor Towles, George Pelecanos, Sapphire, Penn Jillette and Jane Gross.

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

5 NPR Books Stories You Must Read This Week

Jun 27, 2012

The food's not very good at my favorite coffee shop. The couches are old. They have the impressions of other people's butts, and the occasional spring sticks through the fabric. But on warm days, the storefront windows open so you can sit half inside and half out, with the wind cooling your cappuccino. Plus, next-door is a used bookstore.

So if you're like me — and the most perfect day you can imagine is one spent on a couch in a cafe with some great reading material — NPR Books has some ideas for you. Here are the five best stories about books from the past week.

Nora Ephron brought us two of the most indelible scenes in contemporary cinema — and they're startlingly different.

There's the infamous "Silkwood shower," from the 1983 movie, with Meryl Streep as a terrified worker at a nuclear power plant, being frantically scrubbed after exposure to radiation.

Then there's the scene in which Meg Ryan drives home a point to Billy Crystal at Katz's Deli, in 1989's When Harry Met Sally. You know — the one that ends with "I'll have what she's having."

When Colum McCann came to the U.S. from Ireland in the early 1980s, he set out on a cross-country bicycle trip to get to know his new country and its stories. He's spent the years since telling those tales through prose. With his project, Story Swap, he's helping diverse communities better understand each other by sharing their own stories.

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now, we turn to the ongoing fight for civil rights for LGBT Americans. June is recognized by millions of Americans as Gay Pride Month and, for the first time ever, the Pentagon is holding a gay pride event today. It comes less than a year after the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell", the policy banning gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

Here's a clip of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's Gay Pride Month message.

Exposing the Hilarity of Gay Parenting

Jun 26, 2012

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, we recently met Lisa Dolan. She is a fashion designer and the owner of a plus-size clothing store who starred in TLC's reality program "Big Brooklyn Style." Now, she's going to tell us about the music that gets her creative juices flowing. It's our Inner Ear segment and it's coming up.

Like the music of his good friend Béla Bartók, Scottish composer Erik Chisholm's two piano concertos rely heavily on folk sources. But in Chisholm's case, the influences come from Scotland and India rather than Bartók's beloved Eastern Europe.

I grew up in a house full of poetry and the classics. Slim, gloomy volumes filled the bookshelves and piled up on the tables. My father, Robert Bly, recited anti-war poetry at the supper table; my mother, Carol Bly, preferred lugubrious Russian novelists and would counter with ethical advice gleaned from Turgenev.

America is a nation of fans. And though you might not know it by whichever forgettable pop singers are currently shooting up the Top 40 chart, we're serious about our music. "You can dispute folks' politics or theology and still drink with them," as Anthony Heilbut writes in his entertaining new essay collection, The Fan Who Knew Too Much. "But [tell me], for example ... that Bob Dylan's music is 'worthless' and, well, you're on your own." This is true.

The term "Chicago politics" gets bandied about whenever people complain about what they see as corruption and abuse of power.

Republicans often apply the concept to President Obama, who calls Chicago home. Earlier this year, presidential candidate Mitt Romney called one of the president's appointments "Chicago-style politics at its worst," and Illinois Republican Aaron Schock once described Obama's team as "the Chicago machine apparatus."

But what does that mean? And what are Chicago politics really like?

Imagine waking up to find that Earth's rotation has slowed — inexplicably — and the 24-hour day now has 56 extra minutes. And imagine what happens if Earth turns more and more slowly — still for no reason — until days last as long as weeks.

NOTE: Monday on NPR's Tell Me More, Michel Martin talks to Marvel editor-in-chief Alex Alonso about the wedding of Northstar and Kyle Jinadu. The audio will be available later today, and we'll add a link when it's up.

Armed with cameras and microphones, we recently invaded the rehearsal spaces of prominent musicians. The result is "In Practice," a new series of videos you can watch here.

Pablo Medina is the author of Cubop City Blues.

"Showtime! Senoras y senores. Ladies and Gentlemen. And a very good evening to you all, ladies and gentlemen. Muy buenas noches, damas y caballeros. Tropicana! The MOST fabulous nightclub in the world — el cabaret MAS fabuloso del mundo — presents — presenta — its latest show — su nuevo espectaculo ..."

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote his piece The Year 1812, Festival Overture in E flat major in commemoration of the Russian Army's successful defense of Moscow against Napoleon's advancing troops at the Battle of Borodino. Most Americans, however, know the piece as the bombastic tune that accompanies Fourth of July fireworks shows all over the country.

The key to being a new parent, says renowned pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp, is to think of your newborn's "fourth trimester."

"Our babies aren't like horses. They can't run the first day of life," Karp says. "And so we need to recognize that they're evicted from the womb three months before they're ready for the world."

As you walk in the doors of Red Rooster, you immediately see a key piece of design: a bar dominates the front room, nearly touching the street, as if to say to the people of Harlem, N.Y., "Come on in."

The story behind the restaurant's owner, celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, is more about life than food.

I have always loved a great story set in the past. Give me a high-powered historical plot, and I will keep turning those pages until my eyes cross. Kings or consuls, functionaries or janissaries, it doesn't matter, only that it pounds onward to the conclusion — volcano explosion, battle or market crash. It's literary dessert, and I devour every bite.

For most people, the start of World War II means German soldiers marching into Poland. Historian Antony Beevor begins and ends his new book, The Second World War with something different: the story of a German soldier who was actually Korean, was captured in Normandy, and wound up living in Illinois.

NPR Bestsellers: Week Of June 21, 2012

Jun 22, 2012

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

Michael Ondaatje's seafaring coming-of-age tale, The Cat's Table, debuts at No. 12.

Alan Furst's Hollywood-infused prewar spy thriller, Mission to Paris, debuts at No. 2.

Destiny of the Republic, about the assassination of President James Garfield, debuts at No. 11.

Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand's true tale of survival in WWII, is on the list for an 83rd week.

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