Arts & Life

Book Reviews
6:03 am
Wed April 22, 2015

'Vermilion' Finds New Magic In The Old West

Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 1:29 pm

History may be written by the victors, but alternate history is written by anyone with a lust for the past — both established and imagined. Molly Tanzer's imagination is keener than almost anyone's. Her new novel, Vermilion is a work of alt-history that finds a fresh kind of magic in the mingling of fact and fantasy. In the book's wild vision of 1870, the North won the Civil War with the help of a race of intelligent, talking bears. A similarly endowed species of sea lion keeps shop in the streets of San Francisco.

Read more
The Two-Way
5:52 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Remembering Pat Dowell, Longtime Film Reporter For NPR

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 8:33 am

Pat Dowell, a freelance film reporter for NPR, died on Sunday. Dowell had been dealing with health issues for some time, but her death came as a surprise. She was 66 years old.

Pat was a freelancer for us for close to 30 years. Before that, she was a film critic for a number of publications and first appeared on our air in that capacity in 1974, when she talked to then-All Things Considered host Susan Stamberg about the TV series Rhoda and feminism.

Read more
NPR Ed
4:47 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Teaching Students To Hear The Music In The Built World

Architecture professor Diana Agrest evaluates her students' work during a class critique at Cooper Union in New York.
LA Johnson NPR

Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 8:31 am

What makes a great teacher great? That's the question at the heart of 50 Great Teachers, from the NPR Ed Team.

Diana Agrest believes architecture is so much more than a marriage of form and function. For more than four decades, she's been trying to get her students to believe that too.

Read more
Author Interviews
2:25 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

After 20 Years On The Job, NYC Police Officer Tells His Intense Stories

Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 5:46 am

In his 20 years as a New York City police officer, Steve Osborne made thousands of arrests. He says that when he was in uniform, it wasn't unusual to handle 20 jobs a night. And in plainclothes, in the anti-crime unit, his teams would make several felony collars a week, mostly robberies, assaults and gun arrests.

Read more
Book Reviews
2:25 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Revisiting A Suburbia-Gone-Sour In Ross Macdonald's Crime Fiction

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 3:54 pm

Ross Macdonald had a smart answer to the tedious question of why he devoted his considerable talents to writing "mere" detective stories: Macdonald said that the detective story was "a kind of welder's mask enabling writers to handle dangerously hot material." Like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler (the great hard-boiled masters whom he revered), Macdonald set out to excavate the dark depths of American life, but to find his own "dangerously hot material" Macdonald descended into uncharted territory.

Read more
The Salt
11:54 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Tea Tuesdays: Tea, Tao And Tourists — China's Mount Hua Is Three-Part Harmony

You can get a cup of tea at Cuiyun Palace on the west peak of Mount Hua.
Courtesy of James Guo

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 11:56 am

Imagine yourself clinging to a cliff face with nothing but uneven, worn wooden planks and chains to keep you from plummeting 7,000 feet to your untimely demise. Don't worry: You can rent a little red safety harness for $5. No one will make you wear it, though.

Oh, and you will probably encounter someone coming the other way, in which case you will have to maneuver around your neighbor as if playing a deadly game of Twister. Someone has to go on the outside, so I hope you're good at not blinking first.

You wouldn't do this for all the tea in China, you say?

Read more
Movie Reviews
11:07 am
Tue April 21, 2015

'Tangerines': Enemies On Neutral Territory In A Time Of War

Lembit Ulfsak in Tangerines.
Samuel Goldwyn Films

The fighting in Georgia can be hard to follow from afar, but it traces a theme that has been recurring ever since the Soviet Union shattered into 15 countries in 1991. Georgia was one of those lands that gained independence, but it soon degenerated into a war in the northern region of Abkhazia, where Russian-backed separatists carved out a piece of territory they claim and hold until this day.

Read more
Book Reviews
6:43 am
Tue April 21, 2015

'One Of Us' Is A Difficult, Unforgettable Look At Tragedy

Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 11:29 am

One of Us opens with a girl running for her life. She and her friends are being stalked, hunted by a young man in a police officer's uniform on the small Norwegian island of Utøya. They lie down in the woods, pretending they're dead, hoping the man will see them and move on. He doesn't. He shoots the girl in the head, shoots her friends in their heads, point-blank, execution-style. In search of new victims, the man moves on. But almost four years after that July day when 77 people, many of them children, were slain in cold blood, the nation of Norway still struggles to move on.

Read more
Author Interviews
2:51 am
Tue April 21, 2015

No Demons, No Angels: Attica Locke Aims For Black Characters Who Are Human

Attica Locke's other books include Black Water Rising and The Cutting Season.
Jenny Walters Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 1:40 pm

It's a warm evening in 1996 and a young woman is waiting for a ride on a street corner. She's alone, it's way too late and she soon realizes she is being watched. When the woman disappears, the crime is linked to the family of a local man running for mayor.

Read more
The Salt
2:40 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

Appetite For Gulf Seafood Is Back, But The Crabs And Oysters Aren't

Blue crabs brought back to Tony Goutierrez's dock in Hopedale, La. For the past few years, his traps have been coming up empty. "It's sad to see it go, but it's going — this way of life is going to disappear," he says.
Laine Kaplan-Levenson for NPR

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 12:55 pm

In 2010, just after the BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, seafood restaurants were bombarded with questions from concerned diners: "How bad is the spill?" "Is this from the Gulf?" "Is it safe?" Demand for Gulf seafood tanked.

"You have to remember, that was literally weeks and months on end when you could turn on the TV at any time of day and see an oil well leaking unabatedly into the Gulf of Mexico," says Brett Anderson, feature food writer for Nola.com.

Read more
Author Interviews
2:06 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

'I Regret Everything': Toni Morrison Looks Back On Her Personal Life

Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 11:15 am

Now that she's in her mid-80s, celebrated author Toni Morrison feels aches, pains and regret.

She tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "When I'm not creating or focusing on something I can imagine or invent, I think I go back over my life — I don't recommend this, by the way — and you pick up, 'Oh, what did you do that for? Why didn't you understand this?' Not just with children, as a parent, but with other people, with friends. ... It's not profound regret; it's just a wiping up of tiny little messes that you didn't recognize as mess when they were going on."

Read more
Code Switch
1:03 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

George Takei And Company To Hollywood Gatekeepers: Fix Your Diversity Problem

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 10:54 am

Remember that Deadline article from a few weeks back? In which the writer pointed out that Hollywood is diversifying — and claimed that's a bad thing?

At least one good thing may come of it:

Read more
Book Review
8:00 am
Mon April 20, 2015

The Hotel Monte Sano

Title: The Hotel Monte Sano
Author: Charles Farley

Transcript and audio to be added soon.

Read more
Strange News
4:34 pm
Sun April 19, 2015

Like 'Dynasty' On Ice: The Nancy Kerrigan And Tonya Harding Museum

Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding at a practice session at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.
Pascal Rondeau Getty Images

Why would a couple of comedians build a museum in their Brooklyn apartment hallway dedicated to figure skaters Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan?

Viviana Olen and Matt Harkins were only 6 and 7 in 1994, when Harding's ex-husband and his friend plotted to wallop Kerrigan on the knee with a baton, knocking her out of the national championship.

"We remember a very Disney version of the story," says Olen. "You know, this crazy, trashy person beat up the beautiful ice princess."

Read more
Author Interviews
4:20 pm
Sun April 19, 2015

Unsettling Tales Of Strange Suburbia Echo Through 'The Night'

Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Sun April 19, 2015 7:16 pm

A town that experiences a sudden suicide epidemic, a mysterious traveling salesman who sells a magical mirror polish, a mermaid who washes up on shore: What happens to a small town when something strange and supernatural takes over?

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Steven Millhauser explores that intersection of familiar life and disturbing, often bizarre events in his new short story collection, Voices in the Night.

Read more

Pages