For the next couple of weeks, I'll be writing from the Television Critics Association Press Tour, where a couple hundred critics convene in a giant hotel ballroom to question producers, writers, network executives, actors, and sometimes other folks about what's coming up on TV. It can bring out both the punchy and the grumpy in many folks you know who write about all this: Tim Goodman at The Hollywood Reporter calls it the Death March With Cocktails. (A little later on, my NPR colleague Eric Deggans will be here, too.)
I'm deeply conflicted about how to review this book. On the one hand, I literally laughed and cried from one page to the next and devoured the whole in a brief sitting.
On the other hand, I've also read Rainbow Rowell's other books, and this one pales in comparison.
So I could review it straightforwardly and say that it's funny, clever, charming, endearing, and all that would be true — but I could also review it and say that in some ways it's the least of the books of hers I've read so far, and that would also be true.
Crime writer Ann Cleeves puts it best in her novel Dead Water:"Shetland didn't do pretty. It did wild and bleak and dramatic."
The Shetland Islands are a damp and rocky place, with endless miles of green and gray. Humanity seems to cling to the land here like a few tenacious barnacles. "I love the idea of long, low horizons with secrets hidden underneath," Cleeves says.
Before the crowds descend on the Whisky Jewbilee, a kosher alcohol tasting event in Manhattan, David and Dorit Nahmias stand behind their vendor table, getting psyched up.
"This is like the big game," Dorit Nahmias says.
Events like these are a key tool for getting the word out about their tiny distillery, and the Nahmiases attend half a dozen of them per year. The product they're trying to sell is one few people have heard of: mahia. Dorit rehearses her pitch:
Improving the classics is not an easy task. I, for one, have for years been trying to add a kickstand to my burritos to make them stand upright, but the technical challenges prove insurmountable. Big & Littles in Chicago has done better with its update to the grilled cheese, however: It battered and deep-fried it.
Robert: All I need is a bowl of deep-fried tomato soup and it's a complete meal.
This is FRESH AIR. The actor Meshach Taylor died on June 28 at the age of 67. We're going to remember him by listening back to our 1990 interview. Taylor was best known for his role on the TV sitcom "Designing Women" playing Anthony Bouvier, an ex-convict who's a deliveryman for a company of women interior designers in Atlanta. He eventually became their partner in the company.