Arts & Life

Dani Shapiro's new memoir, Hourglass, opens on a scene from a marriage: On a winter's day, Shapiro looks out a window of her old house in Connecticut, and spots her husband. Now pushing 60, he is standing in the driveway in his bathrobe, his pale legs stuffed into galoshes, aiming a rifle at the woodpecker, who for months has been jackhammering holes into the side of their house.

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Novelist Ann Brashares' parents divorced when she was young. "It wasn't an amicable split ..." she says, "And in some way the divisions just kept going, even to this day they do." Those experiences inspired Brashares — who wrote the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series — to write her new novel, The Whole Thing Together.

Inside a tiny, hard-to-find storefront in Brooklyn lies the darkly whimsical world of a most unusual "candy alchemist."

He calls himself "Eugene J.," and this real-life Willy Wonka is whipping up his own new confections across town from where Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will open on Broadway later this month.

Not much is known about this quiet man in black, who prefers to keep the focus on the candy. Behind a purple satin curtain, he toils away on his latest invention.

After years working as a nurse in critical care units, Anne Webster found herself lying in the hospital struggling to get well. She had been given the wrong dose of a chemotherapy medication to treat Crohn's disease. The mistake had caused her bone marrow to shut down, and she'd developed pneumonia.

As she lay in the hospital, she thought, "If I live, I'm gonna write about this."

After three weeks, she recovered. And the experience led Webster to write Chemo Brain, a poem about how the drug scrambled her thinking.

Back in 2010, science writer Rebecca Skloot published a book that sounded like science fiction — except it was real. Skloot told the story of how a tissue sample from a young African-American woman in Baltimore, taken without her knowledge or consent, went on to become "immortal." Her cells contributed to scientific breakthroughs across disciplines and around the world, and they even went up with some of the first space missions.

In 1978, Ina Garten was working for the White House Office of Management and Budget, and felt like it was time for a change. When she came across a newspaper ad for a food store for sale in the Hamptons, she bought it. That store — the Barefoot Contessa — grew into a career, a series of cookbooks and a popular show on the Food Network.

And yet, after all that success, she's somehow still barefoot. We've invited her to answer three questions about footwear.

Speeches in book form have become a reliable cash cow for publishers. The usual formula is this: Find a commencement speech that's gone viral on YouTube, publish it with illustrations in a small hardcover format, and watch as it gets snapped up by the target demographic (in this case, that would be "people who realized they forgot to buy a present while driving to their nephew's high school graduation").

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Cats that have been neutered or spayed as part of a TNR program will have one ear "tipped".  The veterinarian will trim the tip of an ear so that if the cat is picked up in the future it can easily be identified as a one that has already had the surgery.

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Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

'I Basically Ran On Adrenaline': A Staffer Remembers Obama's White House: Alyssa Mastromonaco worked in the West Wing for six exhilarating and exhausting years. She describes that era in her new memoir, Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?

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In the early days of the 20th century, the United States Radium Corporation had factories in New Jersey and Illinois, where they employed mostly women to paint watch and clock faces with their luminous radium paint. The paint got everywhere — hair, hands, clothes, and mouths.

They were called the shining girls, because they quite literally glowed in the dark. And they were dying.

Wanting More From 'Imagine Wanting Only This'

Apr 22, 2017

Imagine Wanting Only This is both a puzzle and a letdown. It may be a debut graphic novel, but its author has no shortage of experience as a writer and artist — she's contributed to, among others, the New Yorker, the Oxford American and the Daily Beast, besides serving as the film and video editor at TriQuarterly magazine and the managing editor of Sarabande Books. And yet in this work, Radtke gropes for something to say and fills her pages with rudimentary, schematic art.

Imagine city planning as a contact sport and you have the gist of Matt Tyrnauer's documentary, Citizen Jane: Battle for the City. The film chronicles the struggle between two mid-20th century worldviews: that of Robert Moses, who preached a cure for what ailed American cities that amounted to "bulldoze and replace," and the less destructive prescriptions of writer/activist Jane Jacobs, who challenged the whole notion of urban renewal in her game-changing book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

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The first thing you should know about this week's show is that PCHH regular Glen Weldon has a strict rule against seeing Fast And The Furious movies, and while he would have waived it if he absolutely had to, we fortunately had willing correspondents in beloved fourth chairs Gene Demby and Chris Klimek, so they joined me and Stephen Thompson for our first segment.

Actor Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton, 24: Legacy) remembers the moment he knew he wanted to be a performer. At 9 years old, the Washington, D.C., native auditioned for a Kennedy Center production of The Brothers of the Knight, a children's musical about a preacher who doesn't approve of his 12 sons' all-night dancing.

The New England Patriots returned to the White House for the now-traditional visit to the president and presentation of a game helmet, jersey and other team-related swag. Correction, some of the Patriots visited the White House. Several, including most famously tight end Martellus Bennett, defensive back Devin McCourty and running back LeGarrette Blount, bowed out early on. (Blount was blunt: "I will NOT be going to the White House. I don't feel welcome in that house. I'll leave it at that," he told the Rich Eisen Show on Feb.

A Gleefully Grisly 85-Minute Gunfight: 'Free Fire'

Apr 20, 2017

The cinema began as a medium of pure titillation, so it's unlikely Ben Wheatley's agreeably amoral comic thriller Free Fire is the movies' first-ever feature-length gunfight. I sure can't think of another one, though. An account of a weapons deal up north that quickly goes south, the movie's taut 85 minutes unfold in something close to real time in a dingy Boston warehouse, where armed-and-untrustworthy factions attempt to outshoot or outlast one another.

Everything is a little off in the small French seaside town of Slack Bay — even gravity. Bruno Dumont's period farce is punctuated by frequent pratfalls, and some of his characters can barely stand upright. Yet toward the movie's end, several of them become lighter than air, and threaten to float away.

Last December The Ottoman Lieutenant, a love story set in Turkey during World War I, came and went in the blink of an eye. The movie was pretty terrible in its own right and, as critics pointed out, its Turkish funding guaranteed a truck-sized memory hole about Turkey's 1915 massacre of over a million of its Armenian citizens, an act generally deemed by historians a genocide that Turkish authorities refuse to acknowledge to this day.

There are no sure things in the volatile world of indie film distribution, but food documentaries have become reliable winners — the amuse-bouche of dinner-and-a-movie date nights, the pornography of Netflix. Half of them warn of all the terrible things in food—genetically modified organisms! high-fructose corn syrup!

When 18-year-old Nermeen Ileiwat first began college, she could not wait to get into a relationship — maybe even get engaged before graduation. But after one year, the rising sophomore realized she had no idea what she wanted out of life and was in no position to get into a relationship.

That decision didn't last long. Only a few months after, Ileiwat met someone at a party, and their friendship quickly turned into something more.

Beans, beans, the magical fruit

Healthy, tasty

And useful, to boot!

Save that canned water,

And whip it to foam

It's an egg-white replacement

Made right at home!

OK, so it's not the playground rhyme you grew up with. But with the avid following that canned bean water — more appetizingly known as "aquafaba" — has gained in just a few short years, maybe it's time that rhyme got rewritten.

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