Arts and culture

Stars Line Up To Reimagine Laura Nyro

Sep 6, 2014
Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit



In the 21st century, it's no longer a debate: Geeks rule. From industry to politics to pop culture, those with a quirky, obsessive passion for specialized knowledge are the uncontested leaders in their fields. Two of those notable geeks, Vikram Chandra and Randall Munroe; have written new books — Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty and What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, respectively.

Ian McEwan's novels tend to be so well-made that they ought to come with a literary equivalent of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. You know you never have to worry about the writing; it's always first-rate. And the structure of a McEwan novel tends toward near-perfection too, with careful attention paid to the shape — and shapeliness — of the book. And you always feel the whole thing was put together by an unusually sharp intelligence. So when reading a novel by McEwan, you can probably take for granted that all of that will be in place.

Jihad. The slicing off of heads. That is something from battlefields of old, where storks came to gorge themselves. To get a fresher sense of the Middle East, you have to step back. I recommend a brisk read of The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron.

I was a sneaky child. Sneaky and hungry and — occasionally — vengeful. When I was 8, we moved from Cleveland to London, and my little sister was born. Poor thing — her perfect skin was marked by my secret vampiric experiments: What happens when you suck really hard on a juicy little arm? One afternoon, my mother, understandably, as I see it now, flustered by adapting to a foreign city with two sullen Midwestern grade-schoolers and a newborn, sent me to the bakery on the high street to buy a loaf of bread. It was 1984, when people still did that kind of thing. She was too trusting.

Folk singer Loudon Wainwright III has just released his 22nd studio album, called Haven't Got the Blues (Yet). We've invited him to answer three questions about other notable thirds: King Richard III, Albert Gore III and psychologist Russell D. Clark III.

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If you spend enough time on Twitter, you've probably run across tweets from people who are ostensibly writing a novel but manage to leave a digital trail that indicates they may be doing anything but:

Artist and computer programmer Cory Arcangel started noticing these aspirational tweets and began collecting them in his @WrknOnMyNovel Twitter feed. He's now curated that collection into a book called Working on My Novel.

Are We Training Dogs All Wrong?

Sep 5, 2014

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Animals and Us.

About Ian Dunbar's TED Talk

Animal trainer Ian Dunbar says we need to see the world through the eyes of our dogs if we want to really communicate with them.

About Ian Dunbar

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Animals And Us.

About Jon Mooallem's TED Talk

Writer Jon Mooallem tells the story of the teddy bear, and considers how the tales we tell about wild animals have real consequences for a species' chance of survival — and the natural world at large.

About Jon Mooallem