Arts

Arts and culture

Novelist John Irving Plays Not My Job

Jun 15, 2012

John Irving is the author of The World According To Garp, A Prayer for Owen Meany, The Cider House Rules and many other works of fiction. His latest novel is called In One Person.

We've invited Irving to play a game called "The World According to Gorp." Garp is about sex, castration and bears. Gorp, on the other hand, is the mix of "good old raisins and peanuts" you eat when you're hiking.

  • The Colorado Symphony Orchestra, under the new leadership of chief exec Gene Sobczak has pulled off "a kind of short-term miracle." Less than a year ago, the orchestra was "so toxic that 20 trustees made an angry and abrupt exit," and they've been looking for a new artistic director for about four years.

Set in a gaming-oriented dystopia, Ernest Cline's Ready Player One debuts at No. 15.

The Eighty-Dollar Champion, about the rise of an equine jumper, climbs to No. 9 this week.

NPR Bestsellers: Week Of June 14, 2012

Jun 15, 2012

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

Kiss the Dead, Laurell K. Hamilton's latest "Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter" novel, debuts at No. 13.

The Amateur, Edward Klein's critique of President Obama, debuts at No. 6.

Wichita (Symphony) Lineman

Jun 15, 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.

Henry Hill, the mobster-turned-informant portrayed by Ray Liotta in the film Goodfellas, died Tuesday at age 69. Hill's colorful life — he lived in Cincinnati; Omaha; Butte, Mont.; Independence, Ky.; and Topanga, Calif., among other places — was documented in crime reporter Nicholas Pileggi's 1986 book Wiseguy and then in Martin Scorsese's film Goodfellas, which was based on Pileggi's book.

NPR Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep is taking a Revolutionary Road trip from Tunisia to Cairo to see how the countries that staged revolutions last year are remaking themselves.

We've asked two authors, Hosam Aboul-Ela and Lin Noueihed, to suggest some books that can illuminate the journey.

Tracing The Trail Of Musical Fathers

Jun 15, 2012

With Father's Day coming up this weekend, Morning Edition music commentator Miles Hoffman has been thinking about a few musical dads and their children.

The area from Carthage to Cairo has commanded the world's attention. Since the Arab Spring last year, it has been filled with protesters, journalists, rebels, and change. It would be hard to put together a reading list for this area without thinking of politics, but writing from the region often surprises us — it suggests the variety and vitality of social life. Here are three books that show why this long-time locale of dictators has suddenly become one of hope.

In Truth Like The Sun, author Jim Lynch traces the growth of Seattle after it hosted the 1962 World's Fair. The novel deals with themes of idealism versus pragmatism and high idealism versus raw ambition.

New In Paperback June 11-17

Jun 14, 2012

Fiction and nonfiction releases from Jennifer Close, Christopher Plummer and Mohamed ElBaradei.

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

'Redshirts:' A Love Letter To Sci-Fi Fans

Jun 14, 2012

Science fiction is often a genre in conversation with itself; from Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels to Galaxy Quest, from The Walking Dead to The Purple Rose of Cairo, it thrives on metatext and a love of details. It's a place inhabited by loyal, passionate fans who are nonetheless acutely aware of — and happy to question — the minutiae of what they love.

In fact, it's a show's biggest fans who are most likely to be watching a starship crew suit up for a mission and asking the screen, "All three top-ranking officers are going? Really?"

Head to the bookstore or pick up your Nook or Kindle or iPad, and prepare, if you will, to make some decisions about your summer reading life. My suggestions this year tend to be fine new fiction, the kind that not only flows on the page but also makes a sort of music in your mind. So, word music it is! Strike up the orchestra! It's going to be a big summer for big broad American literary voices, voices that leap from the page and linger with you, echo through your summer and perhaps even beyond.

Teenage Tales: Sneaking Looks In Sexy Books

Jun 13, 2012

Emily Danforth is the author of The Miseducation of Cameron Post.

I was at a garage sale with my grandmother when I found a paperback copy of Rita Mae Brown's Rubyfruit Jungle.

I was, without much enthusiasm, rummaging through a pile of books. And then I turned over a small paperback. There, on the back, was a reviewer praising this "account of what it's like growing up lesbian ..." I flinched — such a private word to place in such prominence on a book cover.

If the classical music record industry is trouble, you'd never know it by looking at my desk, or that of my colleague Anastasia Tsioulcas — mountains of good old-fashioned compact discs, ready for listening. And our digital space is also getting crowded by more and more downloads. It all adds up to a super broad range of music and musicians. As the year is half over, we've taken stock of a few (of our many) favorites and surprises so far. Listen to our discussion above and hear longer excerpts below of some of the best classical releases of 2012.

The list of fermented food in our lives is staggering: bread, coffee, pickles, beer, cheese, yogurt and soy sauce are all transformed at some point during their production process by microscopic organisms that extend their usefulness and enhance their flavors.

The process of fermenting our food isn't a new one: Evidence indicates that early civilizations were making wine and beer between 7,000 and 8,000 years ago — and bread even before that.

You can get to know people awfully well by spending a week with them on vacation. In The Red House, Mark Haddon brings together two long-estranged siblings and their disjointed families for a shared holiday at a rented house on the Welsh border six weeks after their mother's funeral. Seven days comes to feel like an eternity — for his characters and his readers.

(Classical Detours meanders through stylistic byways, exploring new recordings from the fringes of classical music.)

Kristen Iversen spent years in Europe looking for things to write about before realizing that biggest story she'd ever cover was in the backyard where she grew up. Iversen spent her childhood in Colorado close to the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons factory, playing in fields and swimming in lakes and streams that it now appears were contaminated with plutonium. Later, as a single mother, Iversen worked at the plant but knew little of its environmental and health risks until she saw a feature about it on Nightline.

Dress shirts inspired by NASA technology, gourmet pepper mixes and ... a new recording and study guide for Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time? That's just a tiny sample of Kickstarter's current array of "creative projects" seeking funding. Forget writing endless grant applications and long dinners with angel investors, the thinking goes — just tap into your social networks to raise money instead.

Alan Furst is fixated on a place on the verge of all-out war — and his many readers are grateful for his obsession.

Furst is the wonderfully inventive author of a series of novels set in Europe on the eve of World War II. He's often been compared to John le Carre, Graham Greene and other masters of fictional espionage. But it's time to consider him on his own merits.

What Animals Can Teach Humans About Healing

Jun 12, 2012

When Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz was asked to treat an exotic little monkey with heart failure at the Los Angeles Zoo, she learned that monkeys can suffer heart attacks from extreme stress — just like humans. That's when the cardiologist realized she'd never thought to look beyond her own species for insights into disease.

New words and phrases and new uses for words we already know creep into our everyday language from the most unlikely places, much to the displeasure of our English teachers.

Summer is a season when people get hypersocial — with barbecues and neighborhood fairs, graduations and pool parties. In short, it's an especially trying time for those of us who'd rather stay indoors and read a book. My early summer reading list, therefore, takes the form of a loner's survival guide.

Joan Rivers doesn't hold anything back.

Over the course of her 50-year career, Rivers has made fun of her bankruptcy, her many facelifts, her husband's suicide and the sacrifices she made over the years as a female standup performer.

Survivalist Bear Grylls has been an almost inescapable figure on the Discovery Channel for years.

His show Man vs. Wild has a global audience of millions and peaked as the highest-rated cable show in the U.S. But in March, Grylls and the Discovery Channel parted ways over a contract dispute.

He's currently taking some time away from television, developing ideas for a return, and spending time with his wife, Shara, and their three young sons, Jesse, Marmaduke and Huckleberry.

Two Poems From The Nation's New Top Poet

Jun 10, 2012

Natasha Trethewey is the newly announced, 19th U.S. poet laureate. The position is described by the Library of Congress as "the nation's official lightning rod for the poetic impulse of Americans."

Trethewey tells Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin that it's a lot of responsibility.

"Just trying to be the biggest promoter of poetry; someone who's really got to do the work of bringing poetry to the widest audience possible," she says.

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