This summer, you can expect to be profoundly haunted by some of the best works of speculative fiction the season has to offer. The protagonists in these novels are mobbed by the ghosts of history, by the re-awakened dead, and by their recollections of traumas so formative that they transcend personal experience to become species memory. They are also, somewhat humorously, dogged by all the secret truths that have been edited out of Wikipedia entries.
The quintessential American superhero — the one who forged the genre — returns to the multiplex this weekend: Superman. The latest big-screen iteration, called Man of Steel, explores the birth of the character (played as an adult by British actor Henry Cavill), delving into why he came to Earth, his inner conflicts growing up, and how he resolves them.
Originally published on Fri June 14, 2013 11:43 am
What it came down to in the end were "the beautiful, gorgeous things."
That's how Marc (Israel Broussard) explains the Bling Ring, a gang of teens who, over a span of 10 months in 2008 and 2009, robbed a series of celebrity homes, including those of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Orlando Bloom. Along the way, they accrued more than $3 million worth of jewelry, clothing and accessories — not to mention that inevitable tabloid-headline nickname.
The school year is drawing to a close, but NPR's Backseat Book Club has plenty of reading lined up for the summer. Our June pick is The One and Only Ivan, a Newbery Medal-winning book by Katherine Applegate. It tells the story of a gorilla who spent 27 years in a shopping mall in Tacoma, Wash. — and it's based on a true story.
An amiably shaggy combination of science lesson, whimsical musing and alarm bell, More Than Honey isn't as urgent as its eco-catastrophic subject — the possible destruction of the world's critically important honeybee populations — might seem to require. But the documentary's most memorable vignette is suitably unnerving: a visit to northern China, where the threatened disappearance of bees has already come to pass, leaving workers to pollinate fruit trees ... by hand.
Take heart, ye spandex-haters: Zack Snyder's steroidal yet sensitive Man of Steel is not a superhero film.
Full disclosure: Over the past two years, this reviewer has spent a great deal of time thinking about superheroes in general and Superman in particular. Less than some, perhaps, but more — it's safe to say — than most of you reading these words, as you debate whether or not to duck out of the heat this weekend to take in Snyder's latest summertime smash-em-up.
Jeremy Jackson's grandma Mildred was famous for her strawberry cake. Legend has it that one of the families in her small Missouri town loved the dessert so much, they "commissioned" her to make it for them once a week.
Jackson is the author of Good Day for A Picnic: Simple Food that Travels Well. He shared two versions of his Strawberry Cake for All Things Considered's Found Recipes series.
As a columnist for the Miami Herald and a prolific novelist of books such as Strip Tease, Lucky You and Star Island, Carl Hiaasen has a subject: Florida. Hiaasen grew up in the state during the 1950s and has lived and worked there his entire life, watching it morph from a rural backwater with abundant natural beauty and resources to one struggling with the effects of development and tourism.
Born in Israel in 1930, Yoram Kaniuk wrote novels and articles that explored war, the Holocaust, Israel, and the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians. He was an outspoken proponent of the need for Israelis and Palestinians to understand that both groups of people deserve sovereignty.
"Both sides are right, and both sides are so strong about the rightness," he told Fresh Air's Terry Gross in August 1988. He believed that arguing over "who suffered more" wasn't productive.