Posts Tagged: NPR

Novelist Brings Slavery to California

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In an interview with NPR, novelist and funnyman Paul Beatty discusses his novel The Sellout, and what’s on his mind when creating a world where plantation culture is reborn in California. The novel focuses on Bonbon, an African American man who reacts to the accidental shooting of his father by the LAPD by re-segregating his hometown and taking on a personal slave—an elderly man famous for his role in Little Rascals.

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This Week in Short Fiction

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Leave it to The Toast to give us a story told by a mermaid as opposed to a story about one. And leave it to The Toast to find a very good mermaid storyteller indeed. On Wednesday, they released “Mermaids at the End of the Universe: A Short Story” by Kendra Fortmeyer, featuring illustrations by Stephanie Monohan.

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Stories That Must Be Told

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To read Alejandro Zambra is to engage with someone who writes as though the burden of history were upon him and no one else — the history of his country of Chile, of literature, and of humanity’s shared experience. You get it from his pages, a sense that a story must be told, intimately and without reservation.

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This Week in Short Fiction

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It’s only February, but 2015 is already proving to be a treasure trove of big happenings in the world of short stories. Take this past Tuesday, when Kelly Link, Charles Baxter, and Neil Gaiman all released new collections, undoubtedly making the world a few orders of magnitude weirder, smarter, and spookier.

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Digitizing Reels of History

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The British Library says it has a window of 15 years to preserve an invaluable cache of sound recordings, but unless fundraising can help pick up the pace, the archives could take as many as 48 to complete. The artifacts represent a range of obsolete formats, some of them long dead; from wax cylinders of Florence Nightingale to open reel recordings of children’s songs, and of course countless classic author interviews and readings.

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Hacking Away at Old Saws

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In an interview with NPR about his new book, It’s Been Said Before: A Guide to the Use and Abuse of Cliches, Orin Hargraves acknowledges the utility of well-worn shorthand even as he counsels against its use. Clichés work because their prepackaged meaning is immediately accessible, making them ideal tools for journalists trying to convey information quickly but counterproductive for the creation of fresh, resonant prose.

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The Rumpus Interview with Gina Nahai

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Gina Nahai talks about her fifth novel, The Luminous Heart of Jonah S., Iran and Los Angeles, and the possibility of a long-sought-after peace in the Middle East. ...more

Serial: A Rumpus Roundup

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This American Life spinoff Serial is a nonfiction podcast told over multiple episodes. Premiering back in October, Serial explores the case of Adnan Syed, who has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. Much of the intriguing drama around the story stems from the fact that many aren’t convinced Syed actually murdered Lee—or at the very least, that the prosecution didn’t prove him guilty.

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Anderson Doesn’t “Cut and Paste”

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In an interview for NPR, director Paul Thomas Anderson shares his experience adapting Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice for the big screen:

I approached it in the most straightforward but laborious way I could come up with. I transcribed the dialogue… And there were multiple times when I thought, “Why don’t I just call the publisher and get a PDF and cut and paste this on the computer?” But there was something about typing it out again that made me — it made me get to know the book, you know, really deeply.

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Jacqueline Woodson and the End of the World

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I think I was pretty nervous about it as a kid. I think I did [have] that fear of the world coming to an end. I think also it’s kind of how kids exist anyway, you know? You’re always fearing change; you’re always fearing the wrath of a parent; you’re always fearing that something is going to go wrong somewhere.

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If Scarlett O’Hara had a Cell Phone

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For NPR, Neda Ulaby sits down with Mallory Ortberg to talk about Texts from Jane Eyre, Ortberg’s new book that speculates what literature’s best-known characters might text if they owned cell phones.

“I just immediately thought, ‘Oh God, Scarlett O’Hara with a cell phone would be horrifying,'” Ortberg says, clearly as amused as she was horrified.

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Witch Hunts, Past and Present

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In the new Penguin Book of Witches, Katherine Howe assembles documents from three centuries of witch hunts—including arrest warrants, trial transcripts, and even apologies from a judge and jury in Salem. Per Genevieve Valentine at NPR, the historical record opens up to reveal that, far from being a spooky anomaly or simple mirror of McCarthyism, the echoes of the witch hunts are immediately present in coverage of the unrest in Ferguson, MO, where journalists struggled to present nuanced reporting amid a wave of impassioned social unrest.

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Mastering the Short Story

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…short stories [are] a venerable form, but it’s diabolically hard to master. There’s a lot of apprenticeship in writing stories. And sometimes a story can take such a long time to write — I mean, months and months. … It’s only 10 or 15 pages, but still you got to get it right.

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This Week in Short Fiction

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On Tuesday, Margaret Atwood released Stone Mattress, a collection of “wonderfully weird short stories.” Stone Mattress is Atwood’s eighth collection of stories, not to mention her 14 novels and other formidable volumes of poetry, children’s literature, and nonfiction.

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A Floating Library Comes to New York City

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NPR reports that floating library pop-up is coming to New York City in the Hudson River. The Floating Library is the work of artist Beatrice Glow and will feature books and chapbooks of underrepresented authors and poets as well as an outdoor reading room. The project will run from Saturday, September 6th through October 3rd and will be housed on an old steamship.

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Fine the Way You Are

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Homogeneity in the literary scene isn’t a recent development. Earlier this year, Junot Diaz caused a stir by branding the unbearable too-whiteness of his workshop experience. Justin Torres and Ayana Mathis couldn’t help but contribute:

“One of the characters is sort of referred to as having something like almond skin, something that would identify the character as black.

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