Arts & Life

I'm about to rave about two audacious works of historical suspense fiction: I say "audacious" because you have to have some nerve to tackle the subject of whaling after Melville, or to structure your story around a painting, after so many other novelists — most recently, Tracy Chevalier and Donna Tartt — have kick-started their own tales with the same device.

We're a ways into The Phenom, Noah Buschel's tense drama about a young pitcher named Hopper Gibson, Jr. (Johnny Simmons) who's been busted down to the minors after a sudden case of the yips, when Hopper comes home and encounters his father, Hopper Sr. Senior is played by Ethan Hawke and has returned after being gone a while and not being missed. We have been told about him, enough to know he's bad news, and enough to know that he's obsessed with Hopper's baseball career as well as his own wasted promise as an athlete.

Every day, people get more and more connected — thanks mostly to technology, which has increasingly drawn humanity together in a way that's both heartening and not. In Steve Toutonghi's debut novel Join, he probes those technological connections between individuals in a science-fiction setting, a vision of America where citizens routinely connect to each other using a medium called the quantum personality matrix. Through surgery and science, two or more people are able to fuse their psyches into a single, shared identity, called a join.

Back in 2014, archivists were combing through Pablo Neruda's files when they came upon some previously unpublished works. Those writings by the Nobel prize-winning Chilean poet will soon be released in English in Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda. Forrest Gander, the Brown University professor who translated the poems into English, likens the discovery to finding a trove of new sketches by Michelangelo.

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"Don't touch that!"

"Don't eat that!"

These phrases are well known to children of a certain age.

Little kids don't quite get why eating ice cream for breakfast five days a week is not a good idea. They may be confused about why, exactly, potatoes are food while rocks are, well, not something to put in your mouth. I mean, take a moment to consider that both come from the ground, both are covered in dirt, and both have a shape that could rightly be described as "potato-y."

Editor's note: This week, to mark the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, we will be running a series of stories examining the links between food and the Bard. Oh, and in case the headline didn't clue you in, this post contains sexually explicit language.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

One of the best things about covering film festivals — like the Tribeca Film Festival, where I'll be for a couple of days — is seeing people's work with very little context around it. By the time films are released in theaters, particularly when they're being heavily marketed, I usually know a lot about them. I know something about what to expect, I know a good bit about the directors and actors, and very often, the film has been on various planning calendars for months.

Graham Swift's slim, incantatory new book is one of those deceptively spare tales (like Julian Barnes' The Sense of an Ending) that punch well above their weight. Mothering Sunday, more novella than novel, zeroes in on a time of seismic change in English society and a turning point in the life of a woman who against all odds becomes a famous author.

James Brown always wanted to take the stage last.

When Newbery award-winning author Kate DiCamillo talks to kids about how she became a writer, she sometimes shows them a photo of her own family.

"I would put up this picture of my mother, my brother and me and I would say to them, 'Who's missing?' " she tells NPR's Kelly McEvers. "Clearly it's my father." And kids get that right away.

DiCamillo was always getting sick as a child, and when she was 6 years old, her family moved from Philadelphia to Florida in hopes that it would help her get healthy.

The city of Boston and the friends and family members of the marathon bombing victims will never forget the day when two explosions ripped through the crowd at the race, killing three people and injuring more than 200. Neither will the family of Sunil Tripathi, but for very different reasons. Their story is told in the documentary film Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi.

Editor's note: This week, to mark the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, we will be running a series of stories examining the links between food and the Bard.

Anyone who has ever spent Thanksgiving with family knows that the table is a great place for drama. We talk, we shout, we love, we fight — or sit in silence and seethe. And we're all stuck there, gnawing on our turkey legs, playing out our usual roles, unable to just walk offstage.

That is the very idea William Shakespeare exploited to fill theaters.

#NPRpoetry Moment: Of Spirit And Bone

Apr 17, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Returning to a book you've read multiple times can feel like drinks with an old friend. There's a welcome familiarity — but also sometimes a slight suspicion that time has changed you both, and thus the relationship. But books don't change, people do. And that's what makes the act of rereading so rich and transformative.

In Everybody Wants Some!!, high school baseball star Jake arrives at college for his freshman year. He moves into the team house where there's a lot of sitting around, drinking and Ping-Pong.

For this group of guys, the first couple of days before the school year starts are all about meeting girls and figuring out who they're going to be for the rest of the year ... and maybe the rest of their lives. But, really it's about meeting girls.

Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen's most beloved novel, and now it's getting an update. The new book, Curtis Sittenfeld's Eligible, is the result of a match made by The Austen Project, which pairs popular authors with Austen's books. When the project reached out to Sittenfeld about rewriting Pride and Prejudice, she says she felt like she'd won the lottery.

If Jeopardy!'s Alex Trebek gives the appearance of someone who has been hosting game shows all his life — that's because he has. Trebek's first hosting gig was in 1966 on a show for Canadian high schoolers called Reach for the Top. "We discovered that I was fairly good at that," he tells NPR's Rachel Martin.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Horrors Pile Up Quietly In 'The Other Slavery'

Apr 17, 2016

"I preferred a country where I should be absolute master."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

We're recording in Milwaukee this week, so we've invited champion NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth — a Wisconsin native — to the show. Since he specializes in driving things that go very, very fast, we've invited him to play a game called "Get a move on, pal!" Three questions about golf carts.

doug_wertman [Flickr]

While you cannot claim your pet as a dependent on your income tax return, there are some legal pet-related deductions you can take - if you do it right and keep good records!

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#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. Each weekend, we highlight some of the best stories.

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