Arts

Book Reviews
3:37 pm
Wed September 5, 2012

Was Zadie Smith's Novel 'NW' Worth The Wait?

British author Zadie Smith in 2005.
Sergio Dionisio AP

Zadie Smith wrote her last novel On Beauty seven years ago — a long time in the anxious world of publishing. Her new novel NW was released in the U.S. on Monday. Critic Maureen Corrigan asks: Was it worth the wait?

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Book Reviews
7:03 am
Wed September 5, 2012

How Christopher Hitchens Faced His Own 'Moratality'

Christopher Hitchens, who died in December 2011 from complications related to esophageal cancer, was a columnist for Vanity Fair, and the author of Hitch-22 and God Is Not Great.
Brooks Kraft Corbis

Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 8:55 am

When a consummately articulate, boundlessly bold journalist stricken with stage 4 esophageal cancer reports from the front lines about facing what he calls, among other things, "hello darkness my old friend," you sit up and pay attention. Mortality, by virtue of its ultimate unavoidability, raises questions about the very meaning of life, making it as challenging a subject as any tackled by Christopher Hitchens in his brilliant career. It is, in fact, one of the subjects, right up there with love, and you can count on Hitchens to eschew weak-kneed sentimentality.

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New In Paperback
7:03 am
Wed September 5, 2012

New In Paperback Sept. 3-9

Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 10:44 am

Fiction and nonfiction releases from Jeffrey Eugenides, Sebastian Barry, Jodi Kantor, David Margolick and Simon Garfield.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Kitchen Window
2:23 am
Wed September 5, 2012

No-Bake Desserts? No Sweat

Dave Scantland for NPR

Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 7:26 am

I was once known among my friends as the queen of desserts. OK, maybe that's an exaggeration, but I was at least the bringer of desserts. My circle of friends hosted frequent dinner parties, but my tiny apartment made entertaining any more than a couple of guests impossible. To make up for that, I always offered to bring a contribution. While I preferred appetizers, the day came when a friend asked for a dessert. With some trepidation, I complied. I have no idea what that first dessert was, but it was a hit. My fate was sealed.

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Author Interviews
4:35 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

An Individualist Approach To The Hebrew Bible

Hebrew scripture is a "message in a bottle," says Yoram Hazony, and in The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture, he tries to decipher that message. Hazony's new book makes the case for a different reading of the ancient texts — and argues that the Hebrew Bible is a work of philosophy in narrative form.

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Movie Reviews
2:32 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

Chilling Future Awaits 'Girl Model' Recruits

Nadya Vall, a 13-year-old Russian girl who is sent off to Tokyo to become a model, is hoping to satisfy her parents' desire to afford a larger home.
First Run Features

Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 4:38 pm

In Girl Model, an alarming documentary about the trafficking of Russian child models to the Japanese fashion market, a garrulous modeling agent explains his philosophy: To expiate his own past bad behavior, he says with papal solemnity, he approaches model recruitment as a religious calling, not to mention a fatherly responsibility to do right by the girls, give them a better life than they have now and protect them from harm.

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Author Interviews
2:15 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

Mickey Edwards On Democracy's 'Cancer'

Mickey Edwards served as a Republican congressman for Oklahoma's 5th Congressional District from 1977 to 1993.
Gia Regan Yale University Press

Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 2:48 pm

In his 16 years in Congress, Republican Mickey Edwards came to a strong conclusion: Political parties are the "cancer at the heart of our democracy," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

In his new book, The Parties Versus the People, the former Republican congressman from Oklahoma details how party leaders have too much control over who runs for office, what bills make it to the floor and how lawmakers vote.

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Author Interviews
1:34 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

Conservation Biologist Explains Why 'Feathers' Matter

Thor Hanson's own cast of Archaeopteryx lithographica presents what he calls the "ancient wing written in stone."
Thor Hanson Basic Books

Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 2:11 pm

It was the absence of feathers that got conservation biologist Thor Hanson thinking about the significance of them. Hanson was in Kenya studying the feeding habits of vultures, and he noticed the advantages that vultures had relative to other birds because of their bare, featherless heads.

"Having lost their feathers allows [vultures] to remain much cleaner and more free from bacteria and parasites and disease," Hanson tells Fresh Air contributor Dave Davies.

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Book Reviews
7:03 am
Tue September 4, 2012

'Wilderness Of Error' Indicts U.S. Justice System

Army doctor Jeffrey McDonald, shown here in a 1995 photo, was convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and two daughters in the 1970s. He maintains that they were killed by a band of hippies.
Shane Young AP

On Feb. 17, 1970, physician Jeffrey MacDonald called the police to his Fort Bragg, N.C., home. He told the responding officers that he had been assaulted by a group of "hippie" intruders, who had also bludgeoned and stabbed his wife and two young daughters — ages 2 and 5 — to death. MacDonald suffered a concussion and collapsed lung but survived.

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Author Interviews
3:20 am
Tue September 4, 2012

'Children Succeed' With Character, Not Test Scores

Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 12:38 pm

A child's success can't be measured in IQ scores, standardized tests or vocabulary quizzes, says author Paul Tough. Success, he argues, is about how young people build character. Tough explores this idea in his new book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character.

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