Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 4:43 pm
John Steinbeck's Dust Bowl saga has been on required reading lists for decades, but somehow a lot of us at NPR Books have never read it. (We know! We know!) So when we realized the 75th anniversary was coming up on April 14, we thought: What better way to pay tribute to Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize-winning epic than to actually crack it open?
That is to say: We're hosting a Grapes of Wrath book club and you're all invited to join.*
Fantômas begins as many a good tale begins: with listeners crowding around a fire. In this case, guests of the venerable Marquise surround a retired magistrate who, with relish, tells of the terror that is Fantômas. Fantômas, the criminal mastermind — I would love the book just for the mystery of the name, though in fact, the name isn't even his: it is given to him by rumor, or maybe the police. We know nothing of Fantômas: he is believed to take on the identity of others, sometimes famous others, sometimes several at once.
As part of a new series called "My Big Break," All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click and people leap forward into their careers.
Before Mike Rowe was the host of Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel, he was selling knick-knacks on the QVC cable network in the middle of the night. He got the job after winning a bet in a Baltimore bar.
Actor Hank Azaria wasn't sure he wanted to become a father.
"I am not a children kind of person," he says in the first episode of Fatherhood, his new AOL documentary series. "I feel about kids the way I feel about most people. Which is, most of them are annoying. Children are no exception — they're just annoying short people."
So Azaria set out to document his quest for parental wisdom, quizzing his friends, poker buddies and experts about why they chose to become parents.
On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is called "One, Two, Three — Flip!" The answer will come in the form of two words, and for each word you'll get a clue beforehand. Reverse the order of the first three letters of the first word to get the second word. Example: Cavalry sword and more villainous = SABER, BASER.
The first generation of animators to attend Walt Disney's California Institute of the Arts in the 1970s is profiled in Vanity Fair magazine. NPR's Rachel Martin speaks with Nancy Beiman, who was part of that first class.
Martin Scorsese fell in love with Polish movies when he was in college.
"The images have stayed in my head for so many years, since the late '50s," he says. "I close my eyes, I see them, especially from Ashes And Diamonds, from The Saragossa Manuscript. They're very vivid, expressive, immediate."
In the fall of 1944, the United States and its allies launched a secret mission code-named Operation Paperclip. The aim was to find and preserve German weapons, including biological and chemical agents, but American scientific intelligence officers quickly realized the weapons themselves were not enough.
They decided the United States needed to bring the Nazi scientists themselves to the U.S. Thus began a mission to recruit top Nazi doctors, physicists and chemists — including Wernher von Braun, who went on to design the rockets that took man to the moon.
Many writers used their romantic partners as inspiration for characters and plot lines: Tolstoy's courtship of his wife, Sophia, became the model for Levin's wooing of Kitty in Anna Karenina, while Gustave Flaubert shamelessly infused intimate details about his mistress into the titular Madame Bovary. But some scribes owe much more to their significant others. These career-defining books might never have graced our shelves if it weren't for writers' strong-willed other halves.