Arts & Life

Book Reviews
9:03 am
Thu January 8, 2015

Sound And Fury (And Then A Little More Fury) In 'Against The Country'

There are a fair number of people out there who've been waiting for this novel for a good, long time. Because of who Ben Metcalf is (an outspoken essayist, the former literary editor for Harper's Magazine, an all-around light of the word-slinging world), there were a lot of people waiting to hate it. Maybe an equal number waiting to love it. The good news? Both sides are going to be happy.

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Book Reviews
6:36 am
Thu January 8, 2015

Try On 'Black Suit' For A Beautifully Real Approach To Grief

Jason Reynolds' debut When I Was the Greatest put him on the radar of many YA readers looking for fresh new voices. His latest, The Boy in the Black Suit, begins in a place we've seen before: the senior lockers, the first day back at high school.

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Remembrances
5:17 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Remembering 'Generation Mex' Writer And Proud Outsider Michele Serros

Serros, pictured here in February 2014, got her big break as a college student in 1993.
Rachel Buchan AP

When Michele Serros burst onto the literary scene in the 1990s, she was a new kind of Latina writer: She didn't speak much Spanish, she listened to ABBA and she was a vegan who liked to surf and skateboard. Her success as a writer, poet and comedic commentator made her an inspirational voice for Chicanas of her generation and beyond.

Serros, who Newsweek once hailed as a "Woman to Watch for the New Century," died of cancer Sunday at her home in Berkeley, Calif. She was 48 years old.

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Television
12:26 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Matt LeBlanc Has Quietly Made 'Episodes' A Must-See Comedy

In Episodes, Matt LeBlanc plays an exaggerated version of himself, a self-centered womanizer who uses celebrity and money to coast through life, much like Larry David does in Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Des Willie Courtesy of Showtime

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 2:14 pm

After the holidays, it didn't take any time at all for TV to get back into the swing of things, at least on Sunday nights. Last Sunday, both The Good Wife on CBS and Downton Abbey on PBS returned with strong new episodes to start the New Year — and ABC premiered an odd little musical comedy series, called Galavant. All those shows are back with fresh episodes this Sunday, and this weekend, they're joined by a handful of returning cable series as well.

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Monkey See
10:59 am
Wed January 7, 2015

'Empire': A World Of Unbuttoned Shirts And Dishy Music Stories

Jamal (Jussie Smollett) welcomes home his mother (Taraji P. Henson), but she has about as much more on her mind as this look makes it seem like she does.
Chuck Hodes Fox

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 12:04 pm

Empire comes to Fox with an interesting pedigree: It was created by Danny Strong (who's written multiple award-winning projects for HBO) and Lee Daniels, who made Precious and The Butler — both films with a sheen of prestige, but both films to which people reacted in complex ways. It stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, who are both past Oscar nominees. The executive music producer is Timbaland, who's worked with all kinds of folks, including Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake.

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Television
10:07 am
Wed January 7, 2015

Fox's 'Empire' Sets 'Dynasty'-Style Soap Opera To A Hip-Hop Beat

The stars of Fox's new drama Empire (clockwise from left): Bryshere Gray, Trai Byers, Jussie Smollett, Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson.
Michael Lavine Fox

Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 2:02 pm

At times, Fox's new hip-hop centered family drama Empire feels like Dynasty by way of Jay-Z and Beyonce — or Glee with a beat.

Especially during scenes like the moment that pops up early in Wednesday night's debut episode, when two brothers improvise a song together during a house party that winds up sounding like it was pieced together over weeks in a Los Angeles recording studio.

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Arts & Life
8:07 am
Wed January 7, 2015

Frigid cold is coming, Mercedes Benz abandons New Jersey for the South

North Alabama’s thermometers may bottom out as a hard freeze is expected to hit the state this evening into tomorrow. Forecasters are warning of a prolonged period of sub-freezing temperatures as an arctic cold front moves into the state. Tim Troutman is the lead forecaster for the National Weather Service in Huntsville. He says temps will be much cooler than normal…

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Book Reviews
6:03 am
Wed January 7, 2015

Confident Tales Of 'Small Mammals,' Funny Videos And Childhood Ghosts

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 10:40 am

The first small mammal in Thomas Pierce's short story collection is Shirley Temple Three, "waist-high, with a pelt of dirty-blond fur that hangs in tangled draggles to the dirt." Shirley is a dwarf mammoth, a member of a species that hasn't been around for millennia, cloned for the sake of a television show called Back from Extinction.

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Arts & Life
4:29 am
Wed January 7, 2015

Art Installation Opens Passage To A Different World

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 3:00 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Book Reviews
3:54 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Book Review: 'Descent' By Tim Johnson

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 5:36 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The premise of "Descent," a new novel by Tim Johnston, is a familiar one. A teenaged girl disappears; her family agonizes over her fate. But reviewer Alan Cheuse says this is much more than your typical thriller.

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Code Switch
2:28 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Rewatching 'The Wire': Classic Crime Drama Seems Written For Today

Detectives Lester Freamon (Clarke Peters, left) and Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West) kneel beside a body, befuddled.
Nicole Rivelli AP

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 2:36 pm

Like many devoted fans, I jumped on the release of newly reconfigured, high-definition versions of HBO's classic cop series The Wire, binge-watching much of the show's five seasons on the HBO GO streaming service over the holidays.

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Monkey See
12:48 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Small Batch: 'The Bachelor' Farms Iowa For Fresh Meat

Carly tries a song to charm The Bachelor, Chris Soules, on the premiere of ... well, The Bachelor, obviously. This really happened, see? We weren't lying.
Rick Rowell ABC

From the time we started Pop Culture Happy Hour, Stephen Thompson and I have occasionally heard a plaintive cry: "Why do you guys mention The Bachelor?" And it's true: we do. It comes up from time to time as a strange example of perplexing television, but we would never let it run roughshod over an entire episode.

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Author Interviews
12:36 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

D.C. Author George Pelecanos Writes What He Knows In 'The Martini Shot'

George Pelecanos is a crime novelist who was a writer and producer for the HBO series The Wire and Treme.
Rosa Pelecanos Courtesy of Little, Brown and Co.

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 2:46 pm

When writer George Pelecanos was growing up in Washington, D.C., he was chased by the police several times.

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Arts & Life
12:22 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

First Listen: Anonymous 4, '1865'

Anonymous 4's new album, 1865, comes out Jan. 13.
Dario Acosta Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 9:38 am

Four a cappella voices making divine music: This has been the heart of Anonymous 4's mission for nearly three decades. And as the group bids farewell this season, they're saying goodbye in a poignant way — with the release of an album that couldn't feel more timely. It commemorates the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War and the beginning of Reconstruction.

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Arts & Life
7:26 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Freezing cold is coming, death sentence halted

The National Weather Service is looking into damage from last weekend’s storms in Alabama. APR’s Alex AuBuchon reports, forecasters are also looking ahead to some brutally cold weather starting tonight…

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