Arts & Life

Growing up, twin brothers Ross and Matt Duffer loved movies — especially Tim Burton's Batman. In fact, the creators of the Netflix series Stranger Things 2 credit Burton — and his over-the-top style — with inspiring them to try their hands at filmmaking.

"Tim Burton — he's not exactly a subtle filmmaker," Ross Duffer says. "I mean that in a good way. ... I remember as a kid even you can go, 'Someone is behind all of this. It's the same person who is doing Beetlejuice, who's doing Batman.'"

Before I finally picked up and read Louise Erdrich's new novel, called Future Home of the Living God, there was a mighty obstacle that had to be faced — an obstacle called The Handmaid's Tale. After Margaret Atwood's magisterial achievement, is there really room for another dystopian feminist novel about the overthrow of democracy by a Christian fundamentalist regime that enslaves fertile women and reduces them to simple vessels of procreation?

The somewhat unsettling answer is "Sure!"

The provocative title is hard to ignore, and so is the book's cover. Seen from afar, it appears to be called Why I'm No Longer Talking About Race, which is intriguing enough on its own. You have to look closer to see To White People hiding underneath it in debossed letters. It's a striking visual representation of white people's blindness to everyday, structural racism — one of the central ideas that British journalist and feminist Reni Eddo-Lodge presents in her debut collection of essays.

Louise Erdrich is, without a doubt, one of America's greatest novelists. Her genius was evident early in her career — her 1984 debut novel, Love Medicine, drew considerable critical acclaim and earned her a National Book Critics Circle Award. In the following years, she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for The Plague of Doves, and won a National Book Award for The Round House.

Jeff Melton is an unabashed fan of professional wrestling.

As part of Morning Edition's exploration of how fandoms help shape identity, our producers spent a night amid the smoke, strobes, spandex and screaming fans at a pro wrestling match with Melton, 40, and his friend Adrian Rohr, 42, who had traveled four hours from Charlotte, N.C., to Atlanta.

It hit him one day riding his bicycle on the hard sand at the beach during a family vacation. He had taken this ride plenty of times before.

But this time was different for Joe Biden.

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“The Handmaid’s Tale”

Author: Margaret Atwood  

Publisher: Random House

Pages: 311

Price: $15.95

“The Handmaid’s Tale,” published originally in 1985, was more than a successful novel, winning several prizes and short-listed for the rest; it was and continues to be a phenomenon.

There have been a feature film (1990), a radio play, a stage play, an opera and a ballet based on the book, and the first season of the TV adaptation, ten episodes, won an Emmy.

Becoming a fan of something often means becoming a part of a community. And finding that group of like-minded people can feel like finding a place you truly belong. Other times, that community isn't all that welcoming.

Liz Smith, the longtime gossip columnist whose stories earned her a celebrity that rivaled many of the A-listers she covered, died on Sunday of natural causes, Smith's literary agent Joni Evans confirmed to the Associated Press. She was 94.

Smith started her own column, titled "Liz Smith" that ran in the New York Daily News from 1976 to 1991, and ultimately drew millions of readers when it was syndicated nationwide.

It's no secret that the United States is going through a "post-truth" or "fake news" moment.

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In the new movie Wonder, Julia Roberts plays the mother of a child named August Pullman who was born with severe facial differences. It's prevented Auggie from going to a mainstream school until now, when he's about to enter fifth grade at the local elementary school.

Wonder is based on a novel of the same title by R.J. Palacio. Roberts says she was attracted to the project because she loved the book, and shared it with her three children.

Writer Tracy Baptiste was born in Trinidad where she grew up on fairy tales and the spoken folk tales of the island, including stories about creatures called jumbies. The mythical monsters inspired her to write her own Caribbean folk tale for middle schoolers.

If you only know Robert B. Reich as a former secretary of Labor, frequent TV commentator and author of numerous books on economic policy, you're missing out. Turns out, he's also got a remarkable knack for wielding a Sharpie.

Dave Parker [Flickr]

Until we are able to control the pet overpopulation problem, we will have a need for animal shelters, and for the dedicated people who work or volunteer there.  

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Paul Hollywood is all about the bake. He grew up in a flat that always smelled of bread, above his father's bakery in Merseyside; became a baker in his teens, then head baker at five-star London hotels, then off to resorts in Cyprus, and ultimately became a judge — the one with a twinkle in his piercing blue eyes — on The Great British Bake Off. His new book is Paul Hollywood: A Baker's Life.

When songwriter David Yazbek, whose mother is Jewish and father Lebanese, decided to write a musical that fused his two cultural backgrounds, he knew he didn't want it to be about tribal conflict.

His new Broadway show, The Band's Visit, attempts to do something that seems almost unfashionable: look at two historically antagonistic cultures and tell a story about their commonality.

Life on the moon is no bed of roses. The coffee is weak (because water boils at a low temperature) and the food is rank (because it's hard to grow much more than algae).

The first human colony on the moon, Artemis, is essentially a small, frontier mining town and tourist trap. It's a place that attracts misfits who hope to strike it rich, including a young woman who grew up there named Jazz.

Lee Unkrich has helped make many Pixar movies, including the Academy-Award-winning Toy Story 3, which he directed. He's followed up a movie where he almost killed a beloved group of toys by making one in which almost everybody is already deceased — his new movie Coco centers around the Mexican holiday Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Since Coco pays homage to actual Mexican culture, so naturally, we wanted to quiz him about the opposite of that: Taco Bell.

Click the audio link above to see how he does.

To be human is to wonder where we are. We look at the the ocean and imagine the far shore; we look into the night sky and imagine someone waving back. Life is uncertain and frightening. Our fears need maps. We want to understand what we're looking at.

For just one more night, the facade of Notre Dame de Paris will display a light show for the ages, designed to celebrate both the cathedral's enduring majesty and the centenary of World War I.

Browsing through a weighty new anthology called The Annotated African American Folk Tales is a journey across space and time. In one chapter called "Defiance and Desire," there's a section devoted to flying Africans, where there's a lyric that I was familiar with from a song Paul Robeson recorded many years ago — "All God's Chillun Got Wings."

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This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN LAURENCE: What kind of fighting is it going to be?

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Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET

After five female comics accused Louis C.K. of inappropriate behavior involving masturbation, the comedian has admitted that the "stories are true."

C.K. expressed remorse and said he used his power "irresponsibly." His statement, and other elements of this post, contain language some may find offensive.

In 2003, Adam Davidson and Jen Banbury were living in Baghdad, working as reporters covering the Iraq War. And they were falling in love.

They went on vacation to Aleppo. This was before the city became the symbol of the devastation of the Syrian civil war, back when you might actually go there on vacation.

A friend put them in touch with a local photographer named Issa Touma. And Issa said, "While you're here, you have to go to this sandwich shop."

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