Arts & Culture

Interviews and stories about art, culture, music, books, food / dining and sports.

In the event of a zombie attack, author Max Brooks will be ready. His books The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z are fictional manifestations of his own fears and anxieties — and his impulse to overcome them by preparing for the worst.

"The notion of learning how to survive when the old world rules no longer apply ... pretty much sums up everything I write about," Brooks says.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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So-called “White Nationalists” demonstrating in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend told reporters they felt emboldened by the election of Donald Trump last fall, and his calls to “take America back.”

Lake Effect essayist Jim Spangler has been thinking about the America to which some would like to return:

There is much talk these days about what old timers call the “good old days.” Now all that has been coopted by some fellow in Washington D.C. as “Make America Great Again.”

Jamila Woods and Chance The Rapper have a new video to counter Chicago's image as a hotbed of guns and gang violence. The two homegrown artists challenge this one-dimensional caricature of the city with innocent scenes of children, families and loving communities.

Kamila Shamsie's Home Fire opens with a scene that will likely be familiar to any Muslim who lives in, or has traveled to, the West. Isma Pasha waits in a British airport while security officers check her luggage, go through the browser history on her laptop, and demand "to know her thoughts on Shias, homosexuals, the Queen, democracy, The Great British Bake Off, the invasion of Iraq, Israel, suicide bombers, dating websites."

Wilco has released a new song against ignorance and violence in the wake of last weekend's unrest in Charlottesville, VA. The track, called "All Lives, You Say?" is a short country shuffle that takes aim at the slogan "All Lives Matter," designed as a counter-protest to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Many a singer has sung of mustering the strength to overcome hardship; it's the stuff of blustery power ballads, irrepressible empowerment anthems and aggressively aggrieved rock sing-alongs. But it's a simpler thing to narrate that act through lyrics than it is to embody that experience through a vivid performance.

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The thing that makes actor Bruce Campbell a cult favorite has less to do with his output (which includes such cheeseball epics as Bubba Ho-Tep and Man with the Screaming Brain) and more to do with his input – that is, the quality he can be counted upon to bring to even the schlockiest table: It's an artisanal cocktail of Dad-joke corniness, jockish swagger, withering derision and a willingness – nay, a palpable need – to come off looking like a jerk.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

There are a lot of artists, singers and writers who make us see the world a little bit differently, but not many who inspire a brand new color.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PURPLE RAIN")

PRINCE: (Singing) Purple rain, purple rain.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Back when Amazon first introduced the Kindle, and e-books were all the rage, a lot of people thought printed books and the stores that sell them were going the way of dinosaurs. But a decade later, print is outselling digital, and many independent bookstores are thriving. Even Amazon is opening brick-and-mortar stores (seven so far).

A Bootstrapped British Invasion

Aug 15, 2017

Guest DJ Randy Newman

Aug 15, 2017

Note: This week we're featuring select episodes from our Guest DJ archives. Today we've got a conversation with Randy Newman. The singer, composer and pianist recently released his 11th solo album. It's called Dark Matter. Bob Boilen originally spoke with Newman back in 2008 when Newman released his previous record, Harps And Angels.

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