Arts & Culture

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I've shed many of my physical books during my various moves, but one that I still have is Bill Walsh's Lapsing Into A Comma. Its subtitle: A Curmudgeon's Guide to the Many Things That Can Go Wrong In Print — and How to Avoid Them. I either loaned it to someone at some point or I intended to, because I wrote on the dedication page: "A book I read and loved, that it takes a grouchy writer to appreciate."

That comma should not be there, so that's embarrassing.

"Swimmer Among the Stars," the title story of Kanishk Tharoor's debut collection, tackles one of the trickiest subjects for fiction writers: using language to discuss language itself. In it, a team of ethnographers track down an elderly woman in a remote village who's believed to be the last living speaker of a soon-to-be-extinct language. As they record her speech, hoping to capture enough of it to reconstitute and preserve it for archeological posterity, things go sideways.

The resistance is real in the world of Amazon Video's original series The Man in The High Castle, based on the award-winning book by Philip K. Dick. Set in 1962, the show imagines a history where Germany and Japan actually won World War II and, 17 years after the loss, the United States is split between Nazi Germany (the East Coast) and Imperial Japan (the West Coast). In the midst of it all, a resistance movement has been formed in a neutral zone to fight for freedom.

Daymé Arocena must be an old soul. She's a bright, young singer with a surprisingly mature voice that's deep and dynamic. Her spirit is exuberant and her style is rich, steeped in Cuba's African rhythms and Santería culture and influenced by Whitney Houston, North American pop and jazz.

When Stephen Bosio of Pasadena, Calif., fed his 9-month-old son a pasty, the act felt, by his assessment, more important than it should have.

"Teddy is a fifth generation pasty-eating man," Stephen told me.

Amid truck horns and the distant sounds of Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It," the All Songs Considered team gathered outside of Stubb's BBQ to recount a day overflowing with new musical discoveries and old favorites. On Wednesday night, NPR Music hosted its annual showcase at Stubb's. That event at that place has become as ritual as tacos and crowded streets for this crowd, but the show still astonished them. Stephen Thompson fell for Sylvan Esso's new songs.

'Inexplicable Logic' Maps A Teen Boy's Complicated Mind

Mar 16, 2017

In the realm of young adult literature, the biggest tomes are usually fantasies, the kind that require several hundred years of history, culture, and politics to ground an intricate plot. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life has the word count of a book with worlds to build, but rather than using its pages to explore the confines of an imaginary land, it delves deeply into the complex inner world of one teenaged boy.

If you've ever spent an afternoon with "Under the Sea" or "A Whole New World" or "Be Our Guest" stuck in your head, you can thank composer Alan Menken.

Menken scored The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and many other Disney classics. He says he prefers his songs "to be hum-able."

For more than a decade, singer-songwriter Sera Cahoone has specialized in a shy, introverted kind of folk music: She started her career at the back of the stage, playing drums for Carissa's Wierd and Band Of Horses, and the solo songs that followed reflected the gently unassuming nature of a singer who couldn't showboat in the spotlight if she tried.

It was all too easy to paint the recent era of carousing country jams with a broad, dismissive brush. Reworking familiar tropes has always been central to country songwriting, so it wasn't merely the presence of repetition that rankled.

Kelly Lee Owens' self-titled debut is a folk-pop album – kind of like how Arthur Russell, a longtime hero of the singer/songwriter/producer for whom she names the collection's wonderful second track, is a folk-pop artist. That is, completely and not all. Its melodies are effortless, romantic and repetitive; its atmosphere replete with pastoral open spaces and the kind of spiritual longing at the heart of human intimacy.

At the end of 2014, Geneviève Castrée and I were writing back and forth to each other about domestic life, baking bread, and the forthcoming records by both her own Ô Paon project (Fleuve) and and that of her husband Phil Elverum: Mount Eerie's Sauna.

The new movie Life, which opens March 24, is about astronauts who discover an alien life form and live to regret it. You could say exactly the same thing about Alien: Covenant, which was originally scheduled to open the following Friday — until someone realized that was a recipe for box-office disaster. Alien: Covenant will now open in early May, and that close call, crazy as it is, isn't uncommon in Hollywood.

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