Writers & Writing

Author interviews, poetry and storytelling.

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"I'm not saying it's proper or right to love a student, and I'm not going to pretend I never did anything about it, because I did, but I can say I didn't do much," says the narrator of Deb Olin Unferth's title story, "Wait Till You See Me Dance."

"All I did was to bring the office assistant to the dance and threaten to kill her."

Unferth knows how to change direction. Her absurd and tender story collection is full of sentences like clear glass doors, and you, reader, are the bird.

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LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

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

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Looking at Claire Rosen's photographs can feel like walking into someone else's dreams. One of her images shows a young girl about to be dragged into the sky by a pack of flying toy horses. Another series shows horses, hedgehogs, cockatoos and camels posed before different sumptuous feasts, as if having their own last suppers.

Christina Ricci's film career began early — at just 10 years old, she played the adorably malevolent Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family. From there, she went on to play fascinating and often dark and damaged characters, making a name for herself as an actress who could tap into complex roles.

Duncan Hines, traveling salesman and future purveyor of boxed cake mix, considered himself an authority on a great many things: hot coffee, Kentucky country-cured ham and how to locate a tasty restaurant meal, in 1935, for under a dollar and a quarter.

By the 1950s, Hines' name would be plastered on boxes of cake mix; housewives would turn to his products for consistent quality and superior taste. Newspaper photographs featured Hines clad in a white chef's apron, hoisting a neatly frosted cake or thoughtfully dipping a spoon into a mixing bowl.

Tale As Old As Time: The Dark Appeal of 'Beauty And The Beast'

16 hours ago

In the introduction of Beauty and the Beast: Classic Tales of Animal Brides and Grooms, Maria Tatar talks about how to classify a fairy tale using the Aarne-Thompson system. Developed and refined since the early 20th century, it's a massive taxonomy that cross-references our fundamental stories by subplots and themes.

Washington, D.C.'s Capital City Public Charter School feels like a mini United Nations. Many of the school's 981 students are first-generation Americans with backgrounds spanning the globe, from El Salvador to Nigeria to Vietnam. So when the staff of the literacy non-profit 826DC began a book-publishing project with the junior class, they picked a topic everyone could relate to that also left room for cultural expression: food.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The Women in the Castle, the new novel by Jessica Shattuck, tells the story of three women, and their children, who take refuge in the ruins of a Bavarian castle at the end of World War II. The women are war widows — war resistance widows, really — whose husbands paid with their lives for the July 1944 plot against Adolf Hitler.

'Girl In Disguise' Is A Spunky Spy Saga

Mar 25, 2017

Pluck. Kate Warne, the heroine of Greer Macallister's detective romp, Girl in Disguise, personifies the attribute (I hear an echo here of Mr. Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, informing Mary she has "spunk," before dropping the other shoe. "I hate spunk.") Warne was in real life the first woman hired by the famed Pinkerton National Detective Agency, back in 1856 — and in this historical novel, she sets herself immediately to solving the crime of what took them so long.

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DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Painfully Funny.

About Kevin Breel's TED Talk

The image of the "sad clown" can seem like a cliche. But for Kevin Breel, it's very real. He describes how he struggled with depression while performing as a standup comedian.

About Kevin Breel

Negin Farsad: Can Humor Fight Prejudice?

Mar 24, 2017

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Painfully Funny.

About Negin Farsad's TED Talk

Comedian Negin Farsad traveled all over the U.S. to clear up misconceptions about Islam while making people laugh. She calls this form of activism "social justice comedy."

About Negin Farsad

Radio Diaries: Never Give Up

Mar 24, 2017

When my daughter was ten years old, I left my marriage and turned her life upside down.  Sara was furious with me, justifiably furious.   

Often, when she was at her dad’s house, I called to check in with her.  Sara would come to the phone but not talk to me.  So I carried on a conversation as if she were part of it, then told her I loved her and said good-bye.

John Scalzi's novel The Collapsing Empire kicks off a new series set in — you guessed it — an interstellar empire teetering on the brink of collapse. The Interdependency sprawls across light-years of space, held together by a strange dimension called the Flow, which enables humans to span the immense distances between planets. But the Flow is failing, changing, fluctuating — cutting off some planets forever (including Earth). And in the Interdependency, no planet can survive without supplies from the others. So what's an emperox to do?

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now we have the story of a red brick building in Cambridge, Mass. Not so impressive from the outside, but downstairs underground, you could find books from all over the world. Those who went there include Charlie Porter (ph), a customer at Schoenhof's Foreign Books.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Is any story more appealing than the paradise disrupted? Read enough campus novels, and you'll think colleges are little idylls rife with tennis sweaters and conspiracy. Green quadrangles, caps and gowns, dim libraries, "a group of red-cheeked girls playing soccer, ponytails flying ... trees creaking with apples ... ivied brick, white spire ..." That's Donna Tartt's The Secret History, the New England campus novel par excellence, fat with exclusion and glamour and wealth and Plato and erudite murder.

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