Forest Whitaker turns in a reserved performance as Cecil Gaines, butler to eight U.S. presidents, including Robin Williams' Dwight D. Eisenhower, in a Lee Daniels drama based on the true story of a White House veteran.
Credit Glen Wilson / Open Road Films
Ashton Kutcher and Josh Gad stand in for Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in Joshua Michael Stern's biographical drama Jobs, which covers the tech visionary's early career but stops short of his latter-day triumphs.
Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 6:59 pm
In their approaches to history, Joshua Michael Stern's Jobs and Lee Daniels' The Butler could hardly be less similar. The former is an example of Victorian-style great-man biography, updated for the iThings era. The latter observes monumental events, mostly involving the civil rights movement, from an Everyman's perspective.
In the world of book publishing, ravaged though it may be, the name Farrar, Straus & Giroux still bespeaks literary quality. It's a publishing house that boasts a roll call of 25 Nobel Prize winners and heavyweights like Susan Sontag, Carlos Fuentes, Joan Didion, Philip Roth and Jonathan Franzen. A lot of writers, past and present, have turned down higher advances for their books from other publishing houses for the honor of being an FSG author.
What happens in our brains while we're asleep? That's one question neuroscientist Penelope Lewis is trying to answer. She directs the Sleep and Memory Lab at the University of Manchester in England. Her new book is The Secret World of Sleep: The Surprising Science of the Mind at Rest.
Lewis joins Fresh Air's Terry Gross to talk about how sleep affects memory, and how REM sleep can affect depression.
Part of our summer reading series Island Reads, highlighting authors from the Caribbean
Andrea Stuart was curious about her family's history in Barbados. And through years of careful research, she found that her bloodline includes both slave owners and slaves. She has written about her own family, as well as a detailed history of slavery in the Caribbean, in her book Sugar in the Blood. Guest host Celeste Headlee talks with Stuart about her family history, the moral complexity of slavery and finding roots in the past.
Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 2:25 pm
A few years ago, Julie Elman, an associate professor at Ohio University, was stuck in a creative rut. As a design educator and illustrator, most of her work was done on the computer. She wanted to begin a tangible project — remember those? — but didn't really know where to start.
Then she realized there was one emotion she was strangely preoccupied with: fear. "I thought fears would go away as we get older," she remembers thinking. "I'm in my 50s. Why do I still have fears?"
On the second page of his debut novel Snow Hunters, Paul Yoon vividly depicts the last moments before his protagonist Yohan is liberated from a prisoner of war camp on the Korean peninsula, "where there was always a wind that carried the smell of soil and sickness" from the animals at a nearby farm. Yohan is about to catch a boat to Brazil and start a new life as a Japanese tailor's apprentice – and as he rides away in a UN truck, he "shut his eyes and dreamed of castles."
Novelist Sue Grafton is a real hoot. She's just as likely to talk, in that native Kentucky drawl of hers, about her prized silver-coin mint julep cups as about a juicy murder mystery. But she does have a crime writer's imagination.
"I always say to people, 'Don't cross me, OK? Because you will be so sorry,'" she says. "'I have ways to kill you you ain't even thought of yet.'"
Imagine a ship carrying goods in containers that, if lined up, would stretch around 11,000 miles long, or nearly halfway around the planet. Rose George spent several weeks aboard one such ship as research for her new book, Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car and Food on Your Plate.
When Madeleine L'Engle won the Newbery Prize for A Wrinkle in Time, she ended her speech with the thought that a book "can be a star, 'explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly,' a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe."