Arts & Life

Don't read this.

I'm serious.

Not a single person says "shhh!" during Frederick Wiseman's three-hour-plus tour of New York libraries. In fact, Ex Libris: New York Public Library immediately introduces garrulous author, scientist, and atheist Richard Dawkins, and there are a half-dozen other talky authors waiting in the wings. In this documentary, chatter among the stacks is encouraged.

Shh. Listen! Hear that faint scampering sound outside your window? The pitter-patter of tiny paws and huge, undiscerning appetites? The screech of a potential disease-carrier? Do you live in a city? It's probably a rat. But try to resist the urge to freak out, fellow citizen — at least until you watch the superb new documentary Rat Film, and can determine for yourself who between us is the true parasite of society.

It's an oft-told tale, in Hollywood: A good man wracked by his envy of others he deems more successful than he at scoring the usual American-Dream jackpots of money, status, and fame. He eats himself alive over this at self-defeating length that's both funny and sad. At the climax other, mostly female, not-rich salts of the earth swoop in to persuade him that, OMG, it's a wonderful life just as it is.

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People who write jokes on a freelance basis are losing a precious customer - "Saturday Night Live's" "Weekend Update." Here's NPR's Elizabeth Blair.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: Late-night comedy shows burn through a lot of material.

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The film First They Killed My Father begins in 1975 Cambodia, during the rise of the Khmer Rouge. The hard-line communist regime aimed to deport an entire nation into the countryside and form an agrarian utopia — but their experiment failed. People were forced to work, and they were also tortured, starved and executed. In the end, around a quarter of the country's population — roughly 2 million people — died.

The Man Booker Prize rolled out its 2017 shortlist on Wednesday, delivering a list of six nominees showcasing a hefty dose of literary heavyweights and a pair of newcomers. Of the six novels on the list, just one will go on to win this year's prestigious literary prize at gala ceremony next month in London.

Nicole Krauss' fourth novel, a cerebral, dual-stranded tale of disillusionment and spiritual quest, proves heavy going for its characters — and its readers. Her two protagonists, a powerful, 68-year-old Manhattan attorney and philanthropist named Jules Epstein, and a celebrated novelist on the cusp of 40 named Nicole, have come to question the aridity of their lives. Both believe they'll find relief and transformation in Israel, a land of "never-ending argument" that also offers them abundant time and light in which to examine things more deeply.

'World Without Mind' Is An Urgent, Personal Polemic

Sep 13, 2017

Jason Heller is a Hugo Award-winning editor and author of the forthcoming book Strange Stars (Melville House). Twitter: @jason_m_heller

Ever since the early days of Pop Culture Happy Hour, we've set aside the occasional block of time to champion a few of our favorite entertainers in a segment we call People We're Pulling For. We keep the criteria pretty loose: They can be little-known up-and-comers, major stars at a crossroads, or anything in between. The important thing is that we're rooting for them, and we think others ought to root for them, too.

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About halfway through Claire Messud's new novel The Burning Girl, our narrator, a 12-year-old girl named Julia, makes this pronouncement:

Sometimes I felt that growing up and being a girl was about learning to be afraid. Not paranoid, exactly, but always alert and aware, like checking out the exits in the movie theater or the fire escape in a hotel. You came to know, in a way you hadn't as a kid, that the body you inhabited was vulnerable, imperfectly fortified.

During Donald Trump's campaign for president, there were times at his rallies when he singled out one reporter for criticism. Katy Tur, who covered the Trump campaign for NBC News and MSNBC, remembers those instances vividly.

In this riveting detective story, Vancouver writer Deborah Campbell goes undercover in Syria in 2007. At first, she is a journalistic sleuth: On a tourist visa in Damascus, her aim is to collect the stories of Iraqis fleeing to Syria as the brutal war in Iraq drives more than a million civilians across the Syrian border, stories that depict the legacy of the U.S. invasion.

It will be four years before Syria begins to come apart — but the signs are there, as past and future conflicts converge.

Legendary theater director Sir Peter Hall might have ended up the grand old man of British theater, but he came from modest beginnings — Hall was born in 1930 in Suffolk, England to a father who was a railway clerk, and his family lived in a house without electricity.

Hall went on to run two of the most important theater companies in England — the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre — and directed Waiting for Godot and Amadeus, among dozens of plays, old and new.

Months after the world watched her endure a brutal humiliation, Hillary Clinton walks into her study. She sits down at her computer, sighs, pinches the bridge of her nose.

"OK, everyone. Shut the hell up and listen," she mutters.

And then she types feverishly for weeks — or however long it takes to pound out 469 pages.

Hillary Clinton's final campaign for office ended in a shocking defeat. But she isn't going quietly into the night.

"I think the country's at risk, and I'm trying to sound the alarm so more people will at least pay attention," Clinton told NPR.

That said, her career as a candidate is over.

"I'm done. I'm not running for office," Clinton said. But for those, including Democrats, who would like her to just go away? "Well, they're going to be disappointed," she said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, says the White House is approving federal emergency aid for the state of Alabama ahead of the arrival of Irma. These dollars will supplement state, tribal, and local response efforts due to the emergency storm conditions in the area starting from last Friday. Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.

Journalist Franklin Foer worries that we're all losing our minds as big tech companies infiltrate every aspect of our lives.

In his new book, World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech, Foer compares the way we feel about technology now to the way people felt about pre-made foods, like TV dinners, when they were first invented.

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Comic book writer and editor Len Wein has died. He helped create a lot of famous characters during his nearly 50-year career.

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Like Storm, the white-haired X-Man who controls the weather.

“Man in the Blue Moon”

Author: Michael Morris   

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers

Pages: 377

Price: $13.99 (Paperback)

Michael Morris, who now lives in Birmingham, is a fifth-generation native of Perry, Florida, and it is there, in the Panhandle, that “Man in the Blue Moon” is set, in a little fictional town called Dead Lakes, just outside of Apalachicola, during 1917 and 1918. WWI is raging, but at a distance.

Mark Katkov is an editor at NPR. He was the CBS News Moscow Bureau producer during the Gorbachev and Yeltsin years.

What, exactly, is The Orville supposed to be?

Is it, as some promotional ads on Fox suggest, an in-your-face satire of classic Star Trek-style science fiction shows – with trash-talking starship officers and a gelatinous blob of a life-form played by Norm MacDonald – crafted by the guy who created Family Guy and Ted?

'OMG' Turns 100

Sep 9, 2017

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The band Arcade Fire may have been formed in Montreal, but founder Win Butler isn't even Canadian — he was raised in Texas. So the next time you hear choral harmonies, ethereal instruments and angsty lyrics about feelings, remember: That's the Texas sound.

We've invited Butler to play a game called "I've got Pac-Man fever!" Three questions about surprising arcade games.

Click the audio link above to see how he does.

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