Arts & Life

In 2014, Cohen surprised the Manhattan audience of a closed listening session of Popular Problems, his newest album at the time, by popping in not to sing, but simply say hello and look at everyone like they were aliens. At the time, I remember thinking that everything seemed to be a Very Serious Lark to Leonard.

Two years later, Cohen died. But just before that, he had put the finishing touches on a final book, The Flame, which was released on Oct. 2. It comes with an audio version of the works inside it, read by stars of film and literature.

What if — instead of compulsively reaching for your phone — you could reach for a book? A kind of comfort object that could keep you company all day long.

That's exactly what illustrator Jonny Sun says he wanted to do in his new collaboration with Lin-Manuel Miranda (yeah, that Lin-Manuel Miranda).

On this week's episode of "Keepin' It Real," Cam Marston shares his feelings about snacks at children's events...

Edited by Jalen Hutchinson

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "TINGLER")

The rollout plan for the new TV series The Romanoffs is unusual for Amazon — just as the drama series itself is an unusual experiment for the show's creator, Matthew Weiner.

Feel free to judge this book by its cover, anyway. Or, at least, rest easy in the knowledge that its cover offers an unambiguous glimpse of exactly what you're in for.

The sequel to 2017's My Brother's Husband Volume One, which translated and collected the first half of Gengoroh Tagame's popular manga series, first published monthly in Japan between 2014-17, concludes the tale that the first book left so tantalizingly unfinished.

This piece contains mild spoilers about the Season Four premiere episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which airs Friday, October 12th on the CW.

Lisa Spinelli loves small children — their innocence, their enthusiasm, above all their promise. But The Kindergarten Teacher's protagonist, achingly played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, knows that most 5-year-olds don't grow up to be particularly creative or even interesting. Exhibit A: herself.

The second Civil War will be fought over Thanksgiving. That's the devilish concept at the heart of The Oath, the new dark comedy from Ike Barinholtz that imagines families tearing at each other's throats over the latest machinations of the U.S. government. It doesn't have to imagine too hard. Written and filmed in a white-hot rage over the last year, The Oath barely bothers to mask the inspiration for its dystopia.

What if you were trapped in the middle of a traditional addiction narrative forever?

In a traditional fictional addiction narrative, the person with the addiction begins the story able to coexist with it, if indeed it even has emerged. The addiction deepens, loved ones discover it and there is a single lowest point. Then there is a surrender by the person suffering and a willingness to get help. Or, sometimes, there is not, or there is another fall and then there is death.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

'Bitter Orange' Keeps The Tension Simmering

Oct 11, 2018

All horror is rooted in claustrophobia, the tight confines of the grave, the no-way-out precincts of the haunted house, the airless nightmare from which one cannot awake. In her finely crafted psychological thriller Bitter Orange, the devilish novelist Claire Fuller turns this concept upside down, giving us a sunny, summery, open backdrop that nevertheless becomes a vise tightening around the throats of both the main character and the reader.

"You're bouncing off the atmosphere."

Early in director Damien Chazelle's First Man, this is one of the cautions given to Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) during his pilot training, years before he walked on the moon. That idea of the barrier between Earth and space, the violence of making the journey through it and the almost mystical experience of being on the other side of it forms the spine of the film.

Alyssa Edwards (née Justin Dwayne Lee Johnson) is a lot.

She has to be; she's a drag queen. Being a lot comes with the lace-front wig. A drag queen who isn't a lot is no drag queen at all; she's food without flavor, art without color, Cher without Auto-tune. It's the difference, more specifically, between a fierce and fabulous queen like RuPaul and that one jock in high school who slapped on a Halloween store wig and stuffed himself into his girlfriend's cheerleading outfit for school spirit day.

On July 20, 1969, an estimated 530 million people watched on live television as Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong became the first human to step upon the surface of the moon. Nearly 50 years later, Academy Award-winning director Damien Chazelle revisits Armstrong's "giant leap for mankind" — but with a more intimate lens. First Man, starring Ryan Gosling, focuses on the personal sacrifices behind Armstrong's monumental step.

The selections were winnowed down from 1,637 books.

On Wednesday, the National Book Foundation announced the 25 books that remain in the running for the National Book Awards, now in its 69th year.

The writers come from such places as Pittsburgh, Norway, Iran and Poland, and many of them have delved into some of the most pressing conversations of our time: racism, masculinity, addiction, the destruction of indigenous culture, class divides and corporations.

And for the first time since the 1980s, the judges will also honor a work in translation.

When writer and poet Lacy M. Johnson was in her 20s, a man who she had recently broken up with kidnapped and raped her.

She wrote about her escape and recovery in the 2014 memoir The Other Side. As she began speaking about the book in public, a pattern emerged: Readers she encountered suggested that Johnson must want her rapist killed, or imprisoned, or tortured.

"You probably want him dead, strangers tell me," Johnson writes in the essay that opens her tour de force follow-up, The Reckonings.

No, Johnson says. She wants a reckoning.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Light And Dark, Characters Shine In 'Blanca & Roja'

Oct 10, 2018

Sisters Blanca and Roja del Cisne have always known that one of them is doomed to become a swan. It's been this way for generations and generations of their family — there is always a "good" sister who will live out her human life, and the other, darker sister, who will fly away, never to see her family again. The strange and magical nature of their family keeps them apart from the rest of the town where they live, and it's so difficult for them to assimilate that their parents eventually take them out of high school.

It's hard to make a show about high school football in 2018, even seven-plus years after the end of Friday Night Lights. FNL was so revered, so satisfying, so good, that a show that asks us to care about 17-year-old running backs faces a steep climb.

Everyone is familiar with the official film genres, like the Western or the romantic comedy. But most of us divide movies into less intellectual categories.

There are movies that everybody has to see, like A Star is Born. There are movies you couldn't pay me to see; in my case, that's anything with the word "Saw" in its title. And then there are movies we know we ought to see but dread having to go.

StoryCorps

In this StoryCorps interview, Angela Jordan speaks with her daughter Vivienne and her husband Chris about the "Christmas tornado" that hit their home in 2012. They discuss their memories of that destructive time and what their neighborhood looks like now...  

Edited by Kierra Wright

In his latest book, Michael Beschloss details the windup to eight wars — and the executive branch involvement in each.

With the exception of the Korean War, all of these wars received either a formal congressional declaration of war (the War of 1812; the Mexican-American War in 1846; the Spanish-American War in 1898; WWI in 1917; and WWII in 1941-42) or some form of congressional authorization (Civil War in 1861 and the Vietnam War in 1964).

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

"All this is based on what I've heard from other people or worked out for myself. It may not be entirely true, though I for one believe it."

"The first time I saw my father do coke, I was about six," author (and occasional NPR critic) Juan Vidal writes in his new memoir, Rap Dad: A Story of Family and the Subculture that Shaped a Generation. "Batman Underoos in full effect. I didn't know what the powder was on his stache, but I remember wishing he'd take me to see the snow."

He never did. Vidal's father faded in and out of his life, eventually disappearing entirely, in a cloud of guns, drugs and other women. But he's still the spirit that haunts this poetic chronicle of beats, rhymes and life.

You know that joke-ish, brain-teasery thing about the doctor who says "I can't operate on my own son," but you're told the doctor isn't the patient's father, and the answer turns out to be that the doctor is a woman? It works, to the feeble extent it does, because it rests on our unconscious, culturally programmed preconceived notions — the kind of sexist background radiation that bombards us every day. You just assume the doctor is a man, for no clearly definable reason.

'Beautiful Things' Is A String Of Little Apocalypses

Oct 7, 2018

Every story in the slim new Simon Van Booy collection, The Sadness Of Beautiful Things, is about the end of the world.

In none of them does the world actually end. In none of them does it even come close. But that doesn't change the fact that these are stories of apocalypse. Even the quietest of them shakes the ground and darkens the sky.

An Abundance Of Jacobs

Oct 7, 2018

The Jakes and Jacobs of the world have teamed up and are playing football for the University of Washington. Well, maybe not all of the Jakes and Jacobs, but several have made the team's roster.

The Huskies currently have four quarterbacks named Jake or Jacob. And if that doesn't make things confusing enough, two more Jacobs – a linebacker and a tight end – are suiting up for the purple and gold as well.

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