Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

YA Author Wisdom: Sandra Cisneros

1 hour ago
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Have you ever been to a party where you knew, beyond all shadow of a doubt, that everyone was smarter than you? Like maybe you accidentally wandered into some meeting of past Nobel winners, a MENSA cocktail hour where no one could talk about anything but his IQ, a conclave of artists who spoke so completely in their own cant that it sounded to your ear like code?

China Miéville's newest novel, The Last Days Of New Paris, is exactly that, but in book form.

Rarely has an actor not seen or heard made such a big impact.

Kenny Baker, the actor who played R2-D2 in six of the Star Wars films, died Saturday, his agent confirms to NPR.

Standing at 3 feet 8 inches tall, the British actor also appeared in The Elephant Man, Time Bandits and Flash Gordon, among other films.

"He was just a lovely guy," said agent Johnny Mans, "and I shall miss him terribly."

Katie Couric has done it all in broadcast journalism — she's hosted the Today Show and her own daytime talk show, she's anchored CBS Evening News, and has been a correspondent for 60 Minutes. Now, she's working on a brand new podcast.

Graham Moore's new novel opens in 1888 with a jolt: Its main character, Paul Cravath, witnesses a Western Union worker being electrocuted in the sky above Broadway while trying to repair a live wire. Blue flame shoots from his mouth and his skin falls from his bones.

Later that day, Paul meets Thomas Edison, an inventor who is racing against archrival George Westinghouse to electrify the United States from coast to coast. The success of Edison's inventions hinges on the U.S. adopting DC electricity, while Westinghouse's innovations rely on AC power.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


In 'Harmony,' Women Are Mysteries, Men Are Open Books

Aug 13, 2016

Carolyn Parkhurst's fourth novel, Harmony, is told entirely from female perspectives. Alexandra Hammond and her two daughters each get their own chapters to develop the story: Alexandra fills in the past, while prosaic 11-year-old Iris narrates the present. And Tilly, a mercurial 13-year-old on the autistic spectrum, invents wild futures where the Hammonds have become the subjects of wild theorizing and lost lore. But the strange and fascinating thing about Harmony is how it uses its female points of view to turn the male characters into evocative mysteries.

Jake Reiss, owner of Alabama Booksmith in Homewood, Ala., recommends James McBride's Kill 'Em and Leave, Don Keith's Mattie C.'s Boy: The Shelley Stewart Story and Joshua Hammer's

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There's nothing more luxurious than time - time to just dig into that stack of books that have been waiting for you. To help build the perfect stack, we're talking to booksellers from all over the country this summer to help you Pack These Pages.

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


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


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


The perils of misplaced confidence animate the story of Florence Foster Jenkins, both in real life and in the various fictions built around her.

Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Part Zwei

Aug 12, 2016

The German language has a lot of long, crazily specific words. For example, "kummerspeck" literally means "grief bacon," and refers to the weight you gain from eating your feelings. We give contestants words and their definitions, and they have to figure out: are these real German words, or words we made up?

Heard On Ira Sachs, Jennifer Ehle, Garance Doré: New York Or Paris?

The New York Review Of Children's Books

Aug 12, 2016

Contestants guess the piece of classic children's literature based on imagined hoity-toity reviews.

Heard On Ira Sachs, Jennifer Ehle, Garance Doré: New York Or Paris?