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....more
Posts Tagged: NPR
Folk tales are a shared genealogy. To read them is to recognize where one story descends from another, to learn the preoccupations of the storytellers and their communities, to make note of universal tales whose concerns are eternal, and to see where trade across borders has shared as many ideas as miles of road.
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....more
The Marvel universe is about to get a much-needed dose of perspective when G. Willow Wilson’s all-female team of Avengers arrives this May. NPR talked to Wilson about gender, identity, and ladies who draw:
If we’re going to have an all-female team, let’s really push the envelope and talk about what gender means… Can you choose to be human?
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.
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....more
Jynne Dilling Martin’s new collection of poems, We Mammals in Hospitable Times, was written in large part through a grant from the National Science Foundation, which sent the poet to the far reaches of Antarctica to shadow scientists and soak up history....more
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....more
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....more
I think there’s a lot of dissonance for women, where there’s how we want to live, and how we want to see ourselves, and then what our real circumstances are. And I think the more we can close that distance between who we want to be and who we really are—the happier we are.
With the Canadian publication Descant announcing it will come to an end this month, Juan Vidal reflects on the state of literary magazines for NPR....more
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....more
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.
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.
The Oxford Dictionaries “Word of the Year” has been announced, and young people around the world will be called upon to explain the word “vape”—and its significance as part of cultural shifts surrounding marijuana and tobacco—to their older relatives in the coming days....more
(n.); the moral appended to the end a story or fable; from the Greek epi (“upon”) + muthos (“story, fable”)
“Once upon a time there was a princess who went out into the forest and sat down at the edge of a cool well.
Millennials may love their listicles, memes, and Internet kitsch, but they also love books. A new Pew study has shown the Millennials are more likely to read than older generations. And all those books are fodder for less serious content, like spoof rap videos, with books as their muse....more
“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.
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....more
Lena Dunham launched her collection of personal essays, Not that Kind of Girl, yesterday. At NPR, the filmmaker, actress, and author discusses oversharing, sexual assault, and pornography. Dunham did not get through the week without controversy, though. Gawker wrote up a click-bait attack on Dunham criticizing her book tour....more
…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.
“It’s sort of like comparing making a fire and building a house,” he says. “A song is fire. You react to it primarily, instantly. You don’t have to decide whether you like it, and you don’t really have to sit down and think about it much after you’re done listening to it.
The words we never think about reveal a lot about what we’re saying. Filler words—this, though, I, an, and, that, and there—are so common we never really think about them, but they give away a lot of information....more
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....more
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.