Long before singer and pianist Michael Feinstein became famous in his own right, he had the privilege of working closely with legendary songwriter Ira Gershwin, as his archivist and cataloger. In his new book, The Gershwins and Me: A Personal History in Twelve Songs, Feinstein writes firsthand about the musical world of the American composers and brothers, George and Ira Gershwin.
Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 12:53 pm
Everywhere you go, you are data. You purchase an apple and suddenly ones and zeros are racing through the clickstream like they're wearing superhero capes. Someone, somewhere now knows more about when people eat apples, the likelihood that you will purchase one again, how they correlate to your longevity, your salary, your risk of disease. You shape the universe as you go.
What happens to underground artists after they step, blinking, into the harsh, flat light of the upper world? If they are Robert and Aline Crumb, not a whole hell of a lot — at least, not in their approach to their art. As amply demonstrated in Drawn Together, which collects comics the two cartoonists have created together since the late '70s, their specific subjects may change, but how they go about depicting those subjects — their shared impulse for autobiographical, self-deprecating logorrhea — remains constant.
Dellarobia Turnbow, the smart-mouthed heroine of Barbara Kingsolver'sFlight Behavior, is frustrated by her marriage to Cub, the boy who got her pregnant in high school, and by the grinding privation of life on her in-laws' failing farm. Kingsolver mixes a story of personal awakening with themes of environmental stewardship and climate change as a freak natural phenomenon begins to transform Dellarobia's life. This exclusive excerpt exhibits one of the book's pleasures — Kingsolver's closely observed depictions of rural life — as it introduces the main characters.
Hilary Mantel, winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, poses with her prize shortly after the award ceremony in London Tuesday. Mantel, won the 50,000 British pounds (approximately $80,000) prize with her book <em>Bring up the Bodies</em>.
We Killed: The Rise Of Women In American Comedy is a sprawling oral history that grew out of a Marie Claire piece. It has the loose structure of most similar books (of which there are more and more), though the introduction unfortunately ties it to the tired "women aren't funny" assertions that apparently we're not through talking about yet.
Writer and illustrator Lane Smith teamed up with author Jon Scieszka on the books <em>The Stinky Cheese Man</em> and <em>The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.</em>
Credit Roaring Brook Press
In <em>Abe Lincoln's Dream,</em> the 16th president checks in on the U.S. to see how the nation is doing after the Civil War. A little girl who gets lost on a White House tour reassures the troubled ghost that the country is doing OK.
With the country mired in a civil war, Abraham Lincoln had a lot on his mind, so it's not surprising that the 16th president experienced vivid, troubling dreams.
"He was haunted by his dreams," says author and illustrator Lane Smith. In one dream, Lincoln found himself aboard an indescribable vessel moving toward an indistinct shore, Smith tells NPR's Robert Siegel. "He had these dreams apparently several times before momentous events of the Civil War, and in fact he had it the night before he was assassinated."
The Budapest String Quartet has always been my standard-bearer for chamber music. I grew up listening to their recordings, and especially admired not only their gorgeous sound, but also the uncanny interaction among all four players, even when there were changes in personnel. They had a way of playing as if they were speaking to each other, expressing deep and sometimes complicated feelings.
You might think that Bridget Lancaster and Jack Bishop — two of the culinary talents behind the public television shows America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country — would have their cooking techniques pretty much figured out. Think again.
For the new Cook's illustrated book The Science of Good Cooking, Bishop and Lancaster tested principles they assumed were true — and as Bishop tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "Things that we thought were actually accurate turned out to be, perhaps, more complex."
Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 11:42 am
After 17 years molding the Los Angeles Philharmonic into one of the smartest and most adventurous U.S. orchestras, music director Esa-Pekka Salonen called it quits in 2009. Among his reasons for leaving the ensemble was to devote more time to composing.
Louise Erdrich's debut novel, <em>Love Medicine</em>, won a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1984. Her other books include <em>The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse</em> and <em>The Plague of D</em>oves<em>.</em>
I've devoted many hours in my life to reading, and among these hours many of them belong to the creations of novelist Louise Erdrich. In more than a dozen books of fiction — mostly novel length — that make up a large part of her already large body of work, Erdrich has given us a multitude of narrative voices and stories. Never before has she given us a novel with a single narrative voice so smart, rich and full of surprises as she has in The Round House. It's her latest novel, and, I would argue, her best so far.
In late summer 2010, at the end of a morning briefing, one of President Obama's security advisers said, "Mr. President, Leon and the guys at Langley think they may have come up with something." The adviser was referring to then-CIA Director Leon Panetta, and to a possible lead on the country's most wanted terrorist: Osama bin Laden.
We have a review now of a new novel set in the American Southwest. It's called "Finding Casey" by Jo-Ann Mapson. Our reviewer Alan Cheuse says it's a messy, sprawling ensemble story and well worth the read.
Jerusalem is known for its bitter politics, a divided city where decades of religious and political strife have torn away shared spaces. But as British-Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi tells NPR's Melissa Block, if there's one place in which Jerusalemites of all stripes still stand united, it's in their love of food.
Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 10:10 am
H.W. Brands is a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author of The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace.
Every year, I have my graduate students read the great works of history, from classical times to the present. They gamely tackle Tacitus, ponder Plutarch, plow through Gibbon. Then they get to Thomas Carlyle and feel like Dorothy when she touched down in Technicolor Oz.
Sixty years ago, the book Charlotte's Web first appeared in print. This children's classic is often seen as a story of a spider and a pig. But when E.B. White recorded a narration of the book, he said something different: "This is a story of the barn. I wrote it for children, and to amuse myself."
Journalist Chrystia Freeland has spent years reporting on the people who've reached the pinnacle of the business world. For her new book, Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, she traveled the world, interviewing the multimillionaires — and billionaires — who make up the world's elite super-rich. Freeland says that many of today's richest individuals gained their fortunes not from inheritance, but from actual work.
Guest host Celeste Headlee reads an excerpt from a standout submission to our Three-Minute Fiction contest, Garage Sale Savior, by George Medicus of Stevensville, Md. George's full story can be read below and others can be found at wwww.npr.org/threeminutefiction.
He was tired. It was late. The president stood up, stretched and went looking for a cup of coffee from the Marines, the Secret Service having been sublet to Ireland.
Two years ago, he had been hosting "Garage Sale Savior," a highly rated reality show on which the host and his wizards used the "genius algorithm" to rescue folks from bankruptcy by holding garage sales. On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, the head wizard made a crack that what this country needed was a "good 5 cent garage sale."
He's an 80s teen heartthrob who turned to travel writing — and now soul searching. A few years ago, Andrew McCarthy decided to confront the fears that had followed him his whole life. As he prepared to marry the women he loved, he headed out around the world to find the part inside of himself that just kept saying "no" to everything good in his life.
McCarthy spoke with weekends on All Things Considered guest host Celeste Headlee about his new memoir, The Longest Way Home.
Mary Oliver is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet whose body of work is largely filled with imagery of the natural world — cats, opossums crossing the street, sunflowers and black oaks in the sunshine. Her most recent collection is entitled A Thousand Mornings.
This is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee, in for Guy Raz.
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HEADLEE: You know what that means. It's time for Three-Minute Fiction, our contest where listeners come up with original stories in under 600 words. The challenge this round was to write a story that revolves around a U.S. president - fictional or real. Our judge, the writer Brad Meltzer, will be deciding the winner in just a few weeks. Until then, here's an excerpt from one standout story.
The race for the Republican nomination of 1860 was one of the great political contests of American history. It was Abraham Lincoln versus Salmon Chase, versus William Seward.
Author Walter Stahr spoke with Weekends All Things Considered host Guy Raz about his new biography, Seward: Lincoln's Indispensable Man. He describes how a man who was Lincoln's fiercest and most critical opponent eventually became his most loyal and trusted adviser.
President Williams sits nursing a beer in his private quarters. He feels confined, like a goldfish in a bowl. Between the Secret Service, his aides and the constant presence of the media pool, he rarely has a moment to himself. And now he's up for re-election. He truly cares about the American people and wants to promote their well-being, but in this partisan cesspool, nothing gets done. He often feels like a puppet with strings being pulled willy-nilly. He wishes he could have just one day where he could disappear for a few hours.
The people who host NPR programs are often credited with — or accused of — being knowledgeable.
But really, the most important bit of knowledge they have is just a four digit extension that connects to Kee Malesky in the NPR Reference Library. If you want the names and contact numbers for every left-handed plumber in Kuala Lumpur, she'll fix you up. She's the longest-serving member of a stellar company of reference librarians who check, double-check and mine miles of information, urban legend and spin for cold, hard, glittering facts.
Michael Feinstein, the singer and pianist known as the "ambassador of the Great American Songbook," has a serious pedigree to back up that title: a real-life connection to one of America's greatest songwriting teams. It's the subject of Feinstein's new memoir, The Gershwins and Me: A Personal History in Twelve Songs. (A CD of Feinstein singing those songs also comes with the book.)
This fall, as our younger listeners settle into their classrooms, it's time to reunite the Backseat Book Club. Each month, we pick a book to read along with our school-age listeners. Next up: a children's classic, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.
We'll talk about the book with novelist Jane Smiley, who, in addition to winning a Pulitzer Prize for grown-up literature, has written kids' books starring horses.
Send an email with your thoughts and questions about Black Beauty to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm Celeste Headlee and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the European Union. We'll check in with an expert in Oslo to find out more about that surprising choice. That's in just a few minutes.