NPR Staff

Not long after publishing his first book, London designer Thomas Thwaites found himself with no real job and in relationship trouble. His book, The Toaster Project — about his attempt to build a toaster from scratch — was a huge success, but he found the whole business of being a celebrity thinker a hard act to follow.

To be human is to worry about getting by, doing better, finding love and accepting the march of mortality. Thwaites decided to try to escape the burden of being human — and he would do it by becoming a goat.

Jodie Foster has entertained audiences on screen for decades, but more recently, she's been behind the camera, directing. And in her newest film, Money Monster, it's a behind-the-scenes character who gets to call the shots.

George Clooney plays financial guru Lee Gates, who dishes out stock market tips and money advice on his hit TV show. It's business as usual until an intruder arrives on set and takes Gates hostage during a live broadcast. From that point on, it's his longtime producer Patty Fenn — played by Julia Roberts — who's really in charge.

Amir Attaran, a professor in the School of Public Health and the School of Law at the University of Ottawa, isn't afraid to take a bold stand.

He has written a commentary for the Harvard Public Health Review, published this week, with the headline, "Why Public Health Concerns for Global Spread of Zika Virus Means that Rio de Janeiro's 2016 Olympic Games Must Not Proceed."

Louise Erdrich's new novel LaRose opens with a tragedy: An Ojibwe man is out hunting for deer and accidentally shoots and kills his best friend's 5-year-old son, Dusty. The hunter has a 5-year-old son of his own, and so, in keeping with a practice from the Ojibwe tribe's past, 5-year-old LaRose goes to live with Dusty's family.

Rapper Kate Tempest has become kind of a sensation, winning awards as both a performer and a poet. In her hit debut album, Everybody Down, she told the story of Becky and Harry, two Londoners in their 20s who are struggling with work, love and drugs.

Now she has expanded that story into a novel called The Bricks That Built The Houses. She tells NPR's Ari Shapiro that when the idea for the story first came to her, she knew it would be both an album and a book.


Interview Highlights

On Becky

For decades, Mother's Day has been a difficult time of year for Cheryl Coleman. She says it's been 35 years since she's seen her son.

Just a few months ago, the price of a barrel of crude oil reached a 30-year low. That price has inched up since then, but still, it remains 60 percent lower than it was in the summer of 2014.

On this Mother's Day, here's a bit of wisdom: "Having a child is usually just a long patience."

Those words are spoken by a nurse in the new novel Eleven Hours. Her name is Franckline and she works in a hospital maternity ward. That long patience she's talking about is the patience a woman needs when she's in labor — the patience to ride through hours of pain and worry.

A Bigger Splash positively swims with jealousy, intrigue and lust. Set on the rugged Italian island of Pantelleria, the new film features rock star Marianne Lane — played by Tilda Swinton — who's staying there with her lover, Paul. All's well until Marianne's ex, Harry, appears on the scene, full of manic energy and with his nubile young daughter in tow.

Another kink to the proceedings? Marianne's recuperating from surgery on her vocal cords, rendered virtually mute as she tries to recuperate.

Growing up Muslim in Canada had its challenges for Zarqa Nawaz, starting with school lunch. Her mother insisted on sending Nawaz off with home-cooked chicken that smelled of cumin, when all she wanted was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, like all the other kids. Years later, Nawaz has turned a lifetime of culture clashes into a career as a writer and filmmaker. In her work, she uses humor to humanize a religion she loves, but others fear.

If you have a favorite sports photo from the past 60 years, it's very possible Neil Leifer took it: There's Muhammad Ali standing victorious over Sonny Liston ... Or there's Baltimore Colt Alan Ameche plunging over the goal line in 1958 to beat the New York Giants in the so-called Greatest Game Ever Played.

The politics team is back with its roundup of political news following one of the busiest political weeks thus far. Both Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich have bowed out of the GOP race, making Donald Trump the last candidate standing. The team discusses how Republicans are reacting to their party's apparent nominee and how he might fare in the general election.

Last year, Seattle began phasing in a minimum wage of $15 an hour. Businesses with more than 500 employees are all required to pay that wage by 2018. Smaller companies have until 2021 to comply, but some entrepreneurs are embracing the call for a higher minimum wage ahead of schedule.

One of them is Renee Erickson, a Seattle chef, who this week won the 2016 James Beard Award as the best chef in the Northwest. She employs 100 people at her restaurant group.

Every year at the Kentucky Derby, crazy hat-wearing, mint julep-guzzling horse-gazers break into a passionate rendition of Kentucky's state song, "My Old Kentucky Home." As tradition goes, the University of Louisville Cardinal Marching Band accompanies the crowd as they croon a ballad that seems to be about people who miss their happy home. "The sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home/'Tis summer and the people are gay," begins one version.

But Frank X Walker, Kentucky's former poet laureate, suspects that most people are missing the point.

This story is part of NPR's podcast Embedded, which digs deep into the stories behind the news.

Sitting on a dresser in the back bedroom of a house in Austin, Ind., is the bottom of a soda can. A woman places a sliver of a pill, a powerful prescription opioid called Opana, on the jagged half-can. She begins to heat the pill with a cigarette lighter, melting its hard white coating and turning it the color of whiskey.

Her name is Joy.

Novelist Richard Russo heard a story once: A cop discovers a garage door remote in his wife's belongings, so he goes around town pointing the remote at different garages. The idea, Russo tells NPR's Steve Inskeep, is "if he could find the house where the garage door went up, he would have found his wife's lover."

Detroit singer Mike Posner's latest hit on the pop charts is — ironically — about the down sides of having a hit on the pop charts. It's called "I Took a Pill in Ibiza."

Catch up with these interviews from NPR's Indiana primary night special coverage, hosted by Scott Detrow.

Randy Gentry, Vigo County GOP chair and Trump supporter

On a recent shift in Indiana for Trump

This week on Hidden Brain: Traffic. You hate it, we hate it, the rest of the world hates it, and it only seems to be getting worse. But is there a way to make roads safer and faster? Of course! (We just normally do the opposite).

Intel was once known for its success in branding personal computers with microprocessors, a technology that fueled the digital revolution. But the Silicon Valley veteran announced last month it would lay off 11 percent of its workforce — up to 12,000 positions — and that it's shifting away from personal computing.

Immigration is back on the front burner in the Republican primary.

This past week, at a rally in Orange County, Calif., Donald Trump returned to talking about the wall he wants to build along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Meanwhile, outside, there were protesters speaking out against his immigration proposals and carrying Mexican flags.

Ricky Gervais always seems to be working on something new. Whether it's producing a TV show, writing a movie, voicing a cartoon character, or hosting the Golden Globes, the comedian keeps busy.

Last week, NPR published a special report on suicide in Native Arctic communities. Reporter Rebecca Hersher spent 10 weeks in Greenland, the Arctic country with the highest known suicide rate in the world: 82.8 suicides per 100,000 people each year — six times higher than the U.S. suicide rate. She interviewed Inuit people in the Greenlandic capital, Nuuk, and in small towns on the country's remote east coast. She spoke with community leaders and mental health professionals who are trying to prevent suicide and come to terms with its underlying causes.

Rob Reiner has a new film about young people who are confused, troubled, searching — and who are sometimes a pain in the rear; not to mention the heart.

Being Charlie is the story of an 18-year-old boy who runs away from rehab — again — while his father, a former film star, runs for governor of California.

Death is the great leveler. All of us — kings, peasants, beggars and billionaires, saints and gnats will all die. It's the one certainty we share, even if we differ on the fine points of what happens thereafter.

But what if someone set out to circumvent death by having themselves essentially suspended: Technically dead, but ready to be revived? Frozen in some secret location, body and head insulated separately, against the day a technology is developed to regenerate them, with some memories restored and others cast away?

On May 8, the CBS drama The Good Wife will be ending its seven-year run. Why now? "We wanted to go out while it was still good," says Michelle King, who created the show with her husband, Robert King.

One photo of a pensive Congolese woman in her distinctive makeup could be mistaken for a Renaissance painting. Another, of a coal plant sending smoke plumes over a town in China, looks like a still from a 1950s propaganda film. And another, of a little girl yawning during an Indonesian festival, will just make you smile.

Eat lean meat. Bathe regularly. Wear comfortable shoes. Those are three pieces of self-help advice from an unlikely source — 19th-century poet and essayist Walt Whitman.

We all love our dogs. But depending on how you show that love, you may be doing more harm than good, according to one expert.

Dr. Stanley Coren, a professor emeritus in psychology at the University of British Columbia, writes in a Psychology Today blog post that hugging a dog actually increases the dog's stress level.

Pages