Originally published on Sat March 14, 2015 9:23 pm
Jane Hirshfield is one of our country's most celebrated poets. She's been a Guggenheim fellow. The Academy of American Poets bestowed her a fellowship for her "distinguished poetic achievement," an honor shared with Robert Frost and Ezra Pound.
Oh, and she's an ordained lay practitioner of Zen.
"I'm [also] a Universal Life minister, but that was just so I could marry some friends," she laughs.
Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 9:58 am
People don't talk about psychiatrists the way they talk about neurologists, dentists or vets. In fact, there are those who call psychiatry voodoo or pseudoscience; and, to be fair, the specialty does have a history of claims and practices that are now considered weird and destructive.
Originally published on Sat March 14, 2015 5:20 pm
Chicago's reputation for dramatic crime and corruption predates Al Capone and Prohibition — by decades. In May, 1889, Dr. P.H. Cronin, an esteemed physician, was found in a sewer. He was naked, dead, and savagely beaten.
The investigation and trial caused an international sensation, and one of the world's first media circuses, over a story that involved Irish revolutionaries and reactionaries, secret societies, and even a French spy. Or was he British? All at a time when Chicago had been burned down, and was reborn as the fast-growing city in America.
Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 8:00 pm
There's a certain type of supporting character that author James Hannaham has always wanted to put into the spotlight. Critics call this character the "Magical Negro" — and you may recognize him from movies or TV shows. He's someone who "has incredible abilities and has been through some kind of hardship but it's usually a little vague ..." Hannaham tells NPR's Audie Cornish. "Whenever I see that character, I want the book or the movie or the TV show to take a detour and tell me that story."
Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 11:44 am
Editor's Note: A version of this story originally ran in March 2010.
In the mid-19th century, Britain was an almost unchallenged empire. It controlled about a fifth of the world's surface, and yet its weakness had everything to do with tiny leaves soaked in hot water: tea. By 1800, it was easily the most popular drink among Britons.
The problem? All the tea in the world came from China, and Britain couldn't control the quality or the price. So around 1850, a group of British businessmen set out to create a tea industry in a place they did control: India.
"I think there's only one interesting story ... and that's struggle," says writer Thomas McGuane. Loners, outcasts and malcontents fill the pages of McGuane's latest book — a collection of short stories titled Crow Fair. There's a divorced dad who takes his young son out for an ill-fated day of ice fishing; A restless cattle breeder who takes a gamble on a more lucrative and dangerous line of works; A guy who abandons his blind grandmother by the side of a river to go get drunk, and chase after a corpse he's spotted floating by.
Antonio Ruiz-Camacho's new book Barefoot Dogs is billed as a collection of short stories, but it could easily be called a novel. Each piece provides a perspective on one horrific event: the abduction of the patriarch of a wealthy Mexican family by a drug gang.
Throughout the book, readers see how this affects children, grandchildren, mistresses and others, as the tragedy follows the family through exile in the United States and Europe
Originally published on Sun March 8, 2015 10:03 pm
Los Angeles has been good to Scott Budnick. He arrived more than 15 years ago as an aspiring film producer. He found a home in comedy, and eventually became the executive producer of the Hangover trilogy — the wildly popular, profane buddy movies that are still the highest grossing comedy franchise ever made.
Now, he lives in the Hollywood Hills. He drives a fancy car, lives in a beautiful house and has lots of famous friends.
But in 2013, Budnick decided to leave Hollywood for a very different field: prison reform.