Arts & Life

Arts and lifestyle coverage from around the globe and Illinois.

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JENNIFER LUDDEN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Jennifer Ludden.

The motion picture Blue Caprice seems to be about a boy who's been abandoned by his mother and aches for a father. He meets a man who can no longer see his own children, and who longs for a son. They find each other — but what follows is anything but a happy ending.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Koren Zailckas' latest book is the novel Mother, Mother.

The fourth grade blessed me with "the cool teacher." I've long since forgotten his name, but I haven't forgotten the sound of him tearing into the teacher's parking lot every day on his Harley Davidson. In memory, Mr. Cool towered over me at six-foot-something, his death-metal hair offset by a wiry goatee, his Air Jordans a bright counterpoint to his spider web tie.

From Norvelt to Nowhere is a book that begins in the shadow of nuclear annihilation, during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. The first few paragraphs also disclose that nine elderly women in the town of Norvelt are dead by poison.

Did we mention it's a kids' book, too?

There's a certain kind of joy in breaking the overnight fast by biting into a bagel: crackling crust, chewy center, smooth and silky cream cheese, sharp smoked salmon. For some, capers and onions join the ritual.

But just who invented this breakfast staple, which has become as American as apple pie?

Jeff Garlin is a Chicago-born comedian who became well-known playing Larry David's manager on Curb Your Enthusiasm. He's got a new sitcom on ABC called The Goldbergs and a new film, Dealin' with Idiots, which he wrote, directed and stars in.

When somebody enters a 12-step program to deal with addiction, it's meant to be an all-encompassing, life-changing process — and one we don't always hear about.

But in Stuart Blumberg's romantic comedy Thanks for Sharing, which hits theaters this weekend, the 12-step program is front and center. In this case it's for people struggling day to day with sex addiction, forging bonds with their fellow addicts and sponsors.

Brazil is known for its music and distinctive dances, not necessarily for its paintings or photography. But that is changing. Not only are Brazilian artists now getting big play in major museums around the world, but something new is happening inside Brazil: There's a burgeoning appetite for art.

Nicole Holofcener's Enough Said is her most conventional comedy since her 1996 debut, Walking and Talking. I don't love it as much as her scattershot ensemble movies Friends With Money and Please Give, but it has enough weird dissonances and hilarious little curlicues to remind you her voice is like no other. I love it enough.

Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson's biography of the eponymous tech icon, appears at No. 7.

Midwives and record salesmen face job woes in Michael Chabon's Telegraph Avenue, appearing at No. 8.

Billy Crystal reflects on aging and his career in Still Foolin' 'Em, debuting at No. 3.

Jonathan Lethem's tale of two leftist generations, Dissident Gardens, debuts at No. 8.

NPR Bestsellers: Week Of September 19, 2013

Sep 20, 2013

The lists are compiled from weekly surveys of close to 500 independent bookstores nationwide.

What do the books "The Catcher in the Rye," "Invisible Man" and Anne Frank's diary have in common? They've all been banned from libraries. On Sunday, the American Library Association begins its annual recognition of Banned Books Week. Tell Me More host Michel Martin talks to former ALA president Loriene Roy about targeted books, and efforts to keep them on shelves.

Is Public Numb To Mass Shootings?

Sep 20, 2013

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

What Makes A Good Story?

Sep 20, 2013

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Framing The Story.

About Andrew Stanton's TEDTalk

How Do Book Covers Tell Their Own Stories?

Sep 20, 2013

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Framing The Story.

About Chip Kidd's TEDTalk

Chip Kidd doesn't judge a book by its cover; he creates covers that embody the books — and he does it with a wicked sense of humor. Kidd showcases the art and deep thought of his cover designs.

About Chip Kidd

How Do You Find A Story In A Painting?

Sep 20, 2013

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Framing The Story.

About Tracy Chevalier's TEDTalk

When writer Tracy Chevalier looks at paintings, she imagines the stories behind them: How did the painter meet his model? What would explain that look in her eye? She shares the story of Vermeer's most famous painting that inspired her best-selling novel "Girl With a Pearl Earring."

About Tracy Chevalier

What Are The Dangers Of A Single Story?

Sep 20, 2013

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Framing The Story.

About Chimamanda Adichie's TEDTalk

Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

About Chimamanda Adichie

What Are The Clues To A Good Story?

Sep 20, 2013

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Framing The Story.

About Andrew Stanton's TEDTalk

Filmmaker Andrew Stanton shares what he knows about storytelling — starting at the end and working back to the beginning. Earlier this episode, Stanton shared a story that does exactly that.

About Andrew Stanton

You might think that if the driving scenes in your auto-racing movie are the least interesting thing about it, that's a problem. But it's far from a sign of engine trouble for Rush, a swift-moving, character-rich biopic whose kinetic Grand Prix sequences are constantly being overshadowed by genuinely riveting scenes of ... people talking.

But then in a film written by Peter Morgan — of The Queen and Frost/Nixon -- maybe it's no wonder that questions like why they drive, why they want to win and who they want to beat take center stage.

This week's show finds me, Stephen, Trey and Glen together again in the studio, but due to a scheduling tweak, finds us in Historic Studio 45 instead of Historic Studio 44, so we hope you can all still follow the conversation.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

Want to visit Paris and Venice in the same afternoon?

You can, if you're in China.

Chinese developers have for years built residential communities that mimic famous European cities and towns. They are the subject of a new book, Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China.

On Tuesday, famed evolutionary scientist and atheist Richard Dawkins' new book — a memoir called An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientistwill be published here in the United States. (It came out in the United Kingdom on September 12.) Spanning the years from Dawkins' birth in Kenya in 1941 to the publication of his bestseller The Selfish Gene in 1976, the book tells the story of how Dawkins fell in love with learning and then science.

Somewhere between Tim Robbins' angry assumption about his wife's pain pills and Pink's ecstatic-dance excursion with the guy from Book of Mormon, I realized that the dealing-with-addiction drama Thanks for Sharing really, really wanted to tell me everything it knows about life in recovery. As a critic, I've gotta acknowledge the problems that kind of crowding creates for a storyteller. As a person, I've gotta admire the generosity it bespeaks.

A 'Shot' In The Gloom, And All Hell Breaks Loose

Sep 19, 2013

Watch enough TV or movies these days, and you're likely to witness a throat getting slit. Not off-screen, or in a flash, but performed in full view of an unflinching camera. Call it authenticity, call it chutzpah or call it sadism, it takes only a few episodes of, say, Boardwalk Empire or Breaking Bad to realize that our visual storytellers are increasingly going for the gore.

It was writer-director Nicole Holofcener's good fortune, and her bad luck, to have snagged James Gandolfini for Enough Said, her comedy about two imminent empty-nesters dipping their toes into fresh romantic waters. Given his untimely death, the film is likely to be remembered less for its own modest virtues than as a last chance to say a bittersweet farewell to its star.

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