Arts & Life

Grapefruit's bitterness can make it hard to love. Indeed, people often smother it in sugar just to get it down. And yet Americans were once urged to sweeten it with salt.

Ad campaigns from the first and second world wars tried to convince us that "Grapefruit Tastes Sweeter With Salt!" as one 1946 ad for Morton's in Life magazine put it. The pairing, these ads swore, enhanced the flavor.

This year, the National Book Awards ceremony comes at a time when the nation has rarely seemed more divided. The bitter presidential campaign exposed a fault line in the United States that will not easily be repaired. And while there's no one simple answer, Lisa Lucas, head of the National Book Foundation, recommends one way to understand the other side: read.

"My life is small" she says, "and I think books are a way to make your life larger."

Editor's note: We identified Slave Punk and Sunset Park as already published; they were announced in 2015 but are not yet out.

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

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

When the Cubs won the World Series on Nov. 2 — remember that? — the person who told the world it had happened was sportscaster Joe Buck. He has been broadcasting the NFL on Fox since 1993 and Major League Baseball since 1995. He has now written a memoir about his life in broadcasting, called Lucky Bastard: My Life, My Dad, and the Things I'm Not Allowed to Say on TV.

We thought everyone could use a little distraction this week, so we've invited Buck to play a game called "It's all just kittens and rainbows!"

bfishadow [Flickr]

The reason this little cat (along with its fellow shelter residents) has a chance for a new forever home and a loving owner is because the shelter workers are there to feed her and take care of her until her new owner finds her.  That's something to appreciate! 

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Since 1996, sportscaster Joe Buck has been announcing Super Bowls, golf tournaments, bass fishing, motorcycle jumps and, of course, baseball. In fact, he did the play-by-play for seventh game of the World Series this year between the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Cubs — a game that drew the largest audience in a generation.

Even a well known story depends on where you begin to tell it.

In the summer of 1955, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American boy visiting Mississippi, was lynched by white men who said he'd flirted with a white woman. Till's body was returned home to Chicago where his mother insisted on an open casket. Photos were wired around the globe and the world saw his mutilated body. His murderers would be free within a month.

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

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

"I'll never be able to speak their words!"

That cry of frustration comes from linguistics professor Louise Banks in the new movie Arrival. Banks, played by Amy Adams, is confronted with a hard jolt of reality in a fantastic situation: Aliens have arrived from outer space and we have no idea how to talk to them.

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

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. Film critic David Edelstein has a review of the new sci-fi drama "Arrival" starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker, co-star.

All My Exes Live In Texas

Nov 11, 2016

Gear up for a final round where every answer contains the letters "E-X," in that order. For example, "our neighboring country to the south" is "Mexico!"

Heard on Brooklyn Decker: Two Truths And A Lie, Lie, Lie

Brooklyn Decker would have been named Brooke--after her mom's best friend's horse--but her dad decided to spice it up and go with Brooklyn. "He's the epitome dad joke guy," the actor explains. Though now it's considered a trendy name, she told host Ophira Eisenberg at the Majestic Theater in Dallas, Texas that she was teased for it while growing up in North Carolina. She even ended up living in Brooklyn for a time, "which was a thing in itself."

I Love The 1880s

Nov 11, 2016

Ophira and Jonathan dig deep into Dallas history with this trivia game about the rocking 1880s.

Heard on Brooklyn Decker: Two Truths And A Lie, Lie, Lie

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

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Billies Seen

Nov 11, 2016

In this music game, Jonathan Coulton reworks Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" to be about other people--both real and fictional--named Billie.

Heard on Brooklyn Decker: Two Truths And A Lie, Lie, Lie

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

Mystery Guest

Nov 11, 2016

Mary Walker is kiiiind of a big deal — find out why when host Ophira Eisenberg and Jonathan Coulton become the contestants in this Dallas installment of Mystery Guest!

Heard on Brooklyn Decker: Two Truths And A Lie, Lie, Lie

Texas Towns

Nov 11, 2016

Texas is the second largest state in the Union, so there's bound to be a unique town name here and there. Guess which town is fake in this Texan trivia game.

Heard on Brooklyn Decker: Two Truths And A Lie, Lie, Lie

Franchise Rebranding

Nov 11, 2016

North American pro sports teams are getting a revamp in this word game. Each team's imagined owner wants to change the name by adding one letter. So, if we said, "LensCrafters bought this Texas hockey team," the answer would be "The Dallas Stares!"

Heard on Brooklyn Decker: Two Truths And A Lie, Lie, Lie

Lazy Eye, writer/director Tim Kirkman's unhurried two-hander romantic drama, opens with Dean, a Los Angeles graphic designer played by Lucas Near-Verbrugge, being prescribed trifocals. "It's perfectly normal for vision to change in middle age," his optometrist assures him. But Dean's eyes remain expressive enough to register his alarm at the phrase middle age. When he gets an out-of-the-blue e-mail two scenes later from Alex (Aaron Costa Ganis), an ex- who left him without explanation 15 years ago, Dean's first impulse is to tell him to get lost.

Like the most dreaded Secret Santa at the office holiday party, Hollywood is a shameless re-gifter, passing off the same ensemble comedy-drama every year or two in lieu of a more thoughtful present.

At the fancy Christmas dinner she hosts in her posh Paris home, a stylish entrepreneur named Michele, played to impassive perfection by Isabelle Huppert, verbally abuses her heavily Botoxed elderly mother and her mother's very-much-younger consort. She inflicts injury on the very-much-younger girlfriend of her former husband. She pokes fun at her ineffectual son, his partner, and their baby. She takes a covert swipe at her pretty Christian neighbor while initiating a game of footsie with that neighbor's handsome husband, a broker.

Unlike most horror flicks, The Monster offers solid performances and a real-world subtext. But those virtues aren't enough to keep the movie from getting stalled in some big bad woods, miles short of profundity.

The tale's Little Red Riding Hood is Lizzy (Ella Ballentine), a tween whose relationship with her single mom, Kathy (Zoe Kazan), has become irreparable. The fault is not Lizzy's. Kathy is an alcoholic whose mothering ranges from simply neglectful to overtly abusive. So the two set off, not to grandma's house, but to dump Lizzy with her father.

Close encounters get a whole lot closer with Arrival, a furiously intelligent sci-fi film descending into cinemas from somewhere far, far beyond our current realm of understanding. Its premise instantly solves one of the hardest things to swallow about the traditional movie alien: the fact that it usually acts so much like an Earth-bound creature. After all, it's hard to conceive of extraterrestrial life if we have, well, no concept of it.

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

“Perfume River: A Novel”

Author: Robert Olen Butler   

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press

Pages: 273

Price: $25.00 (Hardcover)

“Perfume River” is, pardon the pun, a confluence of several themes that Robert Olen Butler, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for “A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain,” has explored in previous works and is as smart and eloquent as anything he’s done before.

“A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life”

Author: Pat Conroy   

Publisher: Nan A. Talese/ Doubleday

Pages: 291

Price: $25.00 (Hardcover)

As his millions of fans know, Pat Conroy passed away early this spring. When any great writer dies, the same question is asked: Are there unpublished manuscripts still to come? In the case of Hemingway, there were reams of work, beginning with “A Moveable Feast” and “Islands in the Stream.”

“Bettyville; A Memoir”

Author: George Hodgman   

Publisher: Viking     

Pages: 276

Price: $27.95 (Hardcover)

George Hodgman had an up and down career as a book and magazine editor in New York City, working at different times for “Vanity Fair,” Simon and Schuster and other organizations. He had become neither rich nor famous but New York had become home. Through the years, he visited his mother and father, Big George and Betty, in his home town of Paris, Missouri, but certainly never planned to return there to live.

"Troublemaker" By: Linda Howard

Nov 10, 2016

“Troublemaker”

Author: Linda Howard

Publisher: William Morrow  

Pages: 384                     

Price: $26.99 (Hardcover)

I will admit, I was only vaguely aware of the romance writer Linda Howard. That is until I received in the mail her latest novel, “Troublemaker,” along with a very slick press kit that describes her as “the queen of romantic suspense,” a writer of “stunning sensuality” who “meshes hot sex, emotional impact, and gripping tension.” So far, so good.

“Go South to Freedom: Based on a True Story”

Author: Frye Gaillard

Publisher: NewSouth Books          

Pages: 80

Price: $17.95 (Hardcover)

There's a tendency to approach a posthumous collection of work by an esteemed "writer's writer" with respectful courtesy, but Stanley Elkin's essays demand a rowdier response from readers. They're weird and spirited, full of literal piss and vinegar. Pieces of Soap is the name of this collection and writer Sam Lipsyte, in his introduction, rightly says that reading Elkin makes you realize "how lazy most writing is."

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