Writers & Writing

Author interviews, poetry and storytelling.

Editor's note: This post is about chefs and they can be quite coarse when they talk. Don't be surprised by a little foul language.

In these acrimonious times, many restaurants are treading the fine line between hospitality and politics. Anxiety-inducing though it might be, restaurants have found themselves in this awkward position before.

Just ask Jeremiah Tower, one of America's most influential chefs, who faced a similarly sticky situation four decades ago.

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Dani Shapiro's new memoir, Hourglass, opens on a scene from a marriage: On a winter's day, Shapiro looks out a window of her old house in Connecticut, and spots her husband. Now pushing 60, he is standing in the driveway in his bathrobe, his pale legs stuffed into galoshes, aiming a rifle at the woodpecker, who for months has been jackhammering holes into the side of their house.

Radio Diaries: Being Loved

10 hours ago

My first year in college I met a fellow who was a couple years older—a good-looking, take-charge kind of guy who made me feel special and cherished.  Soon, he persuaded me to go steady and then began talking marriage.

I was dazzled by his attention—so dazzled that I couldn’t see clearly, couldn’t see him at all—his interests and goals—and whether we were really compatible.  But I convinced myself that I loved him—and much later realized I was only in love with being loved.

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Novelist Ann Brashares' parents divorced when she was young. "It wasn't an amicable split ..." she says, "And in some way the divisions just kept going, even to this day they do." Those experiences inspired Brashares — who wrote the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series — to write her new novel, The Whole Thing Together.

After years working as a nurse in critical care units, Anne Webster found herself lying in the hospital struggling to get well. She had been given the wrong dose of a chemotherapy medication to treat Crohn's disease. The mistake had caused her bone marrow to shut down, and she'd developed pneumonia.

As she lay in the hospital, she thought, "If I live, I'm gonna write about this."

After three weeks, she recovered. And the experience led Webster to write Chemo Brain, a poem about how the drug scrambled her thinking.

Speeches in book form have become a reliable cash cow for publishers. The usual formula is this: Find a commencement speech that's gone viral on YouTube, publish it with illustrations in a small hardcover format, and watch as it gets snapped up by the target demographic (in this case, that would be "people who realized they forgot to buy a present while driving to their nephew's high school graduation").

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In the early days of the 20th century, the United States Radium Corporation had factories in New Jersey and Illinois, where they employed mostly women to paint watch and clock faces with their luminous radium paint. The paint got everywhere — hair, hands, clothes, and mouths.

They were called the shining girls, because they quite literally glowed in the dark. And they were dying.

Wanting More From 'Imagine Wanting Only This'

Apr 22, 2017

Imagine Wanting Only This is both a puzzle and a letdown. It may be a debut graphic novel, but its author has no shortage of experience as a writer and artist — she's contributed to, among others, the New Yorker, the Oxford American and the Daily Beast, besides serving as the film and video editor at TriQuarterly magazine and the managing editor of Sarabande Books. And yet in this work, Radtke gropes for something to say and fills her pages with rudimentary, schematic art.

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Tyehimba Jess was awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for poetry with his collection, 'Olio.' In it, he tells the stories of early African American performers.
Tyehimba Jess

Tyehimba Jess is an African American poet from Detroit. He recently won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for his collection of poetry called, Olio. The poems are inspired by blackface minstrel shows.

Minstrel shows were variety acts – skits, dances, music, comedy, and were popular in the 1800’s and well into the 1900’s. Performers would paint their faces black, and act out routines that often denigrated African Americans.

Tim Wharton bristles at being called a "foodie," with its connotation of lush, sumptuous "food porn." He prefers "gastronaut," a label popularized by late British television chef Keith Floyd, for its evocation of intrepid culinary exploration.

Beans, beans, the magical fruit

Healthy, tasty

And useful, to boot!

Save that canned water,

And whip it to foam

It's an egg-white replacement

Made right at home!

OK, so it's not the playground rhyme you grew up with. But with the avid following that canned bean water — more appetizingly known as "aquafaba" — has gained in just a few short years, maybe it's time that rhyme got rewritten.

'Tender' Stories Are A Feast Of Ideas

Apr 20, 2017

Sofia Samatar's duology of novels, 2013's A Stranger in Olondria and last year's The Winged Histories, took place in a mythic land of Olondria — a place where words are equal to religion, politics, and magic in the power they hold over people. It's one of the most dreamlike and far-flung settings in contemporary fantasy, and it's netted Samatar a World Fantasy Award, a British Fantasy Award, and the John W. Campbell Award.

In one of my favorite paintings of Joan of Arc — created by Jules Bastien-Lepage at the end of the 19th century — a disheveled, flush-faced teenager stares into the middle distance in the tangle of a garden. Behind her, faint images of saints emerge from the foliage. Unlike so many other paintings of Joan in which she's clad in armor and wields a sword, this one shows the time and place where her mind opened, and she encountered the thing that would both define and destroy her.

In 2017 alone, Merriam-Webster added more than 1,000 words to its dictionary.

CANDIDA: Can we bring back those days again?

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been at the forefront of progressive politics over the last year.

She has sparred with President Trump on Twitter, and she was reprimanded by Republicans on the Senate floor earlier this year. Now she has written a new book, This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle To Save America's Middle Class.

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Former Obama staffer Alyssa Mastromonaco is well acquainted with the privilege — and sleeplessness — of working in the White House: "I basically ran on adrenaline, almost, for six years," she says.

Mastromonaco began as President Obama's director of scheduling and advance, then became his deputy chief of staff for operations. Her responsibilities ran the gamut from overseeing the confirmation process for Cabinet secretaries to managing the president's daily schedule and foreign travel.

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