Arts & Life

When Nell Stevens, then a newly minted MFA, was offered the possibility of a three-month grant to go anywhere in the world to write, she pounced. Eager to avoid distractions and desperate to find something to write about, the 27-year-old Brit chose the weather-lashed, aptly named Bleaker Island, in the Falklands. "I do not want to have a nice time," she explains. "What I want — what I need — is to have the kind of time that I can convert into a book."

It sounds unbelievable to a lot of us, but for some people, their early 20s are the age when things start to come together. They graduate college, find a fulfilling job, marry their sweetheart and start a family.

The last time I talked with Paul Watson, I reached him aboard a Canadian Coast Guard Icebreaker in the Arctic, via satellite phone.

"The captain was glaring at me because we talked for a long time," Watson remembers with a laugh.

That was three years ago, and Watson, a columnist for The Toronto Star, was alongside archaeologists who had just located one of two sunken ships lost in the Franklin Expedition, back in the 1840s.

Robert Silvers, whose long career as an editor included terms at The Paris Review, Harper's and, most notably, as co-founder of The New York Review of Books, died Monday at his home in Manhattan. He was 87.

Silvers launched The New York Review of Books in 1963 with Barbara Epstein, intending to raise the standard of book reviewing. In its pages, a given book under consideration could be little more than a jumping-off point for an extended essay that directly engaged the political and cultural moment.

Comedian Iliza Shlesinger has a lot to say about what it's like to be a lady these days — and what things could have been like in the past.

"Do you think for a second, that if women were physically stronger than men, we would have waited for the right to vote?" she asks in her latest Netflix special, Confirmed Kills. She goes on to imagine a "jacked up housewife" in 1910, with a "shaker of horse testosterone and creatine," shoving her husband out of the way because "mama's going to the polls."

As the father of two sons with schizophrenia, author Ron Powers is familiar with the pain and frustration of dealing with a chronic, incurable disease of the brain.

Powers' younger son, Kevin, was a talented musician whose struggles with schizophrenia began at age 17. Just before his 21st birthday, in 2005, Kevin took his own life.

A few years later, Powers' older son, Dean, started experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia and had a psychotic break.

On a bitterly cold day in February 1846, the French writer Victor Hugo was on his way to work when he saw something that affected him profoundly.

A thin young man with a loaf of bread under his arm was being led away by police. Bystanders said he was being arrested for stealing the loaf. He was dressed in mud-spattered clothes, his bare feet thrust into clogs, his ankles wrapped in bloodied rags in lieu of stockings.

"It made me think," wrote Hugo. "The man was no longer a man in my eyes but the specter of la misère, of poverty."

For the first time in a decade, the classic children's television show Sesame Street will introduce a new Muppet on the air.

I love reading books in translation. There's just something about that second pass — that second look at the language — which removes, by my rough estimate, something like 10% of any writer's preciousness (I've never known one who couldn't spare that much, at least) and gives every line such a chewy, lived-in feel. The motion of the words themselves, from one tongue to another — from one brain to another, one mouth to another — alters them fundamentally.

In '2140,' New York May Be Underwater, But It's Still Home

Mar 19, 2017

Early in New York 2140, two boys jump into their inflatable boat to begin the day's business, scavenging through the canals of a half-drowned New York. Since the weight of the engine threatens to sink the stern, the older boy sits up front to balance it out.

Ashamed, Confused And In The Closet

Mar 18, 2017

Dear Sugar Radio is a weekly podcast from member station WBUR. Hosts Steve Almond and Cheryl Strayed offer "radical empathy" and advice on everything from relationships and parenthood to dealing with drug problems or anxiety.

Today the Sugars hear from a man who is married to a woman and thinks he's gay. He says his marriage to his wife is fulfilling in every way except for their sex life. Now he doesn't know what to do. What should his next step be?

For more than 40 years, Paul Shaffer has been providing the soundtrack for late night TV. He was on the first generation of Saturday Night Live and appeared for 30 years with David Letterman. He was the band leader who could play any song and would laugh at any joke. He's just released an album called Paul Shaffer & The World's Most Dangerous Band.

Routines

Mar 18, 2017
Army Medicine [Flickr]

Pets (and many people) are happier when they have a regular routine.  Sometimes, though, things happen that disrupt or adjust our routines, and it may take a little time to adapt to the change.

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The St. Patrick's parade is over and the Irish (and honorary Irish) have gone home to sleep off their annual bout of intemperance, but the multi-generational marchers of the Italian-American St. Joseph Society in New Orleans are only just dusting off their tuxedos and straightening their bow ties. Once the shamrocks and shenanigans have vanished from the narrow streets of the French Quarter, and the keg of green beer is empty, another parade — in honor of an entirely different saint — is beginning to gear up.

If you've been out of loop on the American contemporary art scene, the Whitney Biennial is here to catch you up. This year's show opened Friday, and features 63 different artists and many new works that have never been shown before. Some artists are responding to the most pressing issues of our time, while others are tackling mammoth projects on a tight deadline. Photographer An-My Lê and artist Raúl de Nieves represent the range of this year's contributors.

Elif Batuman is on record as disliking "crisp" fiction, fiction that streamlines, that asks to be compared to apples, or whips. "Write long novels, pointless novels," she urges in an essay for n+1. And she has. The Idiot is a long wander, a vague rummage, "as simultaneously absorbing and off-putting as someone else's incredibly long dream," as her narrator, Selin, says of Bleak House.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

20 years ago, a low-budget film with a great soundtrack (Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Blur) became a huge hit. And then a lot of people ended up with a poster on their bedroom wall featuring an epically profane rant that began, "Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family ..."

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF "OVERTURE/AND ALL THAT JAZZ")

At a ceremony in New York on Thursday, one of America's most celebrated writers had a new reason to celebrate. Louise Erdrich won the 2017 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction for her novel LaRose, the story of an accidental shooting — and the fraught tale of family and reparation that follows.

On Friday, the streaming service Netflix unveils the entire first season — all 13 episodes — of its newest children's series, called Julie's Greenroom. It stars Julie Andrews, who also is its executive producer along with her daughter, children's book author Emma Walton Hamilton.

Toy Joy

Mar 17, 2017

Did Twister ever give you a blister? Or chess give you stress? In this game, every answer is a toy or game paired with a word that rhymes with that toy. So if we asked, "What's the game where the first player to get rid of their cards wins a trip to the capital of Alaska?" the correct answer would be "Juneau Uno."

Heard on Judy Gold: Very Special Episodes

Judy Gold: Very Special Episodes

Mar 17, 2017

For comedian Judy Gold, having older parents meant that feedback in her household was often quite negative. "I remember the first time I did the Tonight Show. My mother leaves me a message, 'So...I...watched...and there are so many commercials! I mean, I waited and waited...' I'm like, 'Hello! Are your other kids doing the Tonight Show?'" she told host Ophira Eisenberg. "But you don't appreciate it until you're old...and they're dead."

Mr. Shouty

Mar 17, 2017

Hollywood's most famous yeller, Samuel L. Jackson, finally stars in his own game! Contestants must identify movies starring Mr. Jackson just from clips of him shouting.

Heard on Judy Gold: Very Special Episodes

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Zero G

Mar 17, 2017

In this final round, every answer is a two-word phrase where the first word ends in "I-N-G" and the second word sounds like the first word, with the last G removed. But don't worry, it's not as complicated as it seems! For example, the answer to "Brushing dirt off of the actor Hoffman" is "Dusting Dustin."

Heard on Judy Gold: Very Special Episodes

Mystery Guest

Mar 17, 2017

This episode's Mystery Guest, Autumn Stanford, just started an interesting late-night business. Can you figure out what it is before Ophira and Jonathan?

Heard on Judy Gold: Very Special Episodes

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Literal Songs

Mar 17, 2017

Jonathan Coulton makes songs with one-word titles even more straightforward, by changing their lyrics so that each song is quite literally about the title. Contestants buzz in to identify the song.

Heard on Judy Gold: Very Special Episodes

This, That Or The Other

Mar 17, 2017

In this week's edition of This, That or the Other, contestants are given the title of a book and must guess if it was written by an FBI agent, an Olympic athlete, or a participant on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette.

Heard on Judy Gold: Very Special Episodes

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