Arts & Life

In 1921, my grandmother moved from the Yorkville neighborhood of Manhattan to Rochester, New York to get married. There she lived until her death at age 109, outlasting my mother by eight years.

Nana lived in a high rise close to Mom's childhood home, a home I came to know after Mom died. Rochester was a stark and lonely place for me.

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Here We Are: My Friendship with Philip Roth


“Here We Are: My Friendship with Philip Roth” 

Author: Benjamin Taylor 

Publisher: Penguin Books 

Pages: 171 

$26.00 (Hardcover) 

Readers should be aware that “Here We Are” is not the full biography of novelist Philip Roth. That volume is being written by Blake Bailey, the biographer of John Cheever and Richard Yates. 

“Here We Are,” a memoir, is the story of a friendship. 

When the Internet Archive announced that it was creating a "National Emergency Library," temporarily suspending wait lists to borrow e-books amid the pandemic, a crowd of writers and publishers made their outrage clear. Now, their complaint has made it to court.

The killing of George Floyd has inspired protests across the U.S. and around the world, with crowds evoking the names of other black men and women who have died in police custody — including

Brit Bennett's first novel, The Mothers, was the sort of smashingly successful debut that can make but also possibly break a young writer by raising expectations and pressure. Four years later, her second, The Vanishing Half, more than lives up to her early promise. It's an even better book, more expansive yet also deeper, a multi-generational family saga that tackles prickly issues of racial identity and bigotry and conveys the corrosive effects of secrets and dissembling.

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Americans are suddenly consumed with multiple crises. Even before the outbreak of social unrest following yet another African American's death in police custody, the ravages of COVID-19 and economic free fall had disrupted the national life.

All of which means conditions are ripe for President Trump to assume more power and move closer to the status of autocratic ruler, says New Yorker writer Masha Gessen in a new book Surviving Autocracy.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.


One of the characters that comes to the fore in the second half of Brit Bennett's new novel, The Vanishing Half, is a young actress named Kennedy Sanders. She's an attractive blonde pushing 30, who, after years of trying to make it in the serious theater, lands a role on a soap opera.

Bennett writes that when Kennedy calls her parents to tell them about her big break, she assures them that "There was nothing wrong with melodrama, . ... In fact, some of the greatest classic actresses — Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo — trafficked in it from time to time."

Artist Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, who was known for creating monumental works of art that played off of their environment in cities around the world, died Sunday at his home in New York City, according to the artist's representatives. He was 84 years old.

Imagining your place in the universe can make you feel pretty small and insignificant, and in the midst of a global pandemic? Well, even more so.

"I think this moment that we are living through reminds us how fragile our species is, living on this small rock in the vastness of the cosmos," says astrophysicist Ray Jayawardhana. But he doesn't think that the universe should necessarily make you feel alone. It's inspiring, he says, to remember the "intimate and enduring connections that we have with the rest of the cosmos."

This year my grandfather turned 90 and my family planned to celebrate with a big birthday bash. It's not often that my whole family comes together, and I was excited. But then the coronavirus pandemic came. My grandparents isolated at home, the birthday party got canceled and a general anxiety about the health of the older generation exploded all over the world.

A picture is worth a thousand words in Meryl Wilsner's debut novel, Something to Talk About.

A queer romance set in Hollywood, Something to Talk About aims its spotlight at love in the workplace in a story that draws much of its plot from newspaper headlines (and the tabloids).

Rutger Bregman begins his new book Humankind: A Hopeful History with what he calls this "radical idea" that most people deep down are pretty decent.

Bregman is a historian and writer for The Correspondent in the Netherlands and author of the previous bestseller Utopia for Realists.

Rainy Day Dog Play

May 30, 2020
Eli Christman [Flickr]

Some dogs don't mind the rain, while others seem to really dislike going outside in wet weather.  But almost all dogs like to play.  Positive interaction between dog and human is good for everyone involved, and can reinforce the relationship between the two - even indoors when the weather is bad!


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A friend and I were talking the other day about having our kids at home all the time, and yes, we complained about messes and fights (I mean, MESSES AND FIGHTS), and about how many snacks they seem to need, and the endless dirty dishes and laundry, etc., etc. Why rehash it all when you surely understand what I mean?

But as we were talking, we came upon something else: We are grateful.

Ramy Youssef

May 29, 2020

Actor and comedian Ramy Youssef started his career in New York City's comedy scene. He frequented stand-up showcases, performed sketch comedy and took acting classes before landing his first major role in the Nick At Nite sitcom See Dad Run. He later had a recurring role in the USA Network drama Mr. Robot. In 2019, his hour long stand-up special titled Feelings premiered on HBO.

To Thinkpiece Or Not To Thinkpiece

May 29, 2020

Maria Bamford (Lady Dynamite) and Jackie Kashian (The Jackie and Laurie Show) update the titles of Shakespeare plays as search engine-friendly, clickbait-y headlines.

Heard on QuaranTV: Ramy, Space Force And Lady Dynamite.

Plus Ones

May 29, 2020

Comedians Maria Bamford and Jackie Kashian join musician Jonathan Coulton for a game that ruins bands by adding an extra letter to form a new name. Coulton discovers the game's concept is a little hard to explain.

Heard on QuaranTV: Ramy, Space Force And Lady Dynamite.

World's Smallest

May 29, 2020

Space Force stars Roy Wood Jr. and Jimmy O. Yang guess their way through this game about some of the smallest things in the world.

Heard on QuaranTV: Ramy, Space Force And Lady Dynamite.

Celebrity Tutorials

May 29, 2020

Comedians Roy Wood Jr. (The Daily Show) and Jimmy O. Yang (Silicon Valley) take a deep dive into the world of quarantine-era celebrity tutorials.

Heard on QuaranTV: Ramy, Space Force And Lady Dynamite.

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Reinvention.

Imagine surrounding yourself with images and sounds, in order to set old ideas in a new context. OK Go's Damian Kulash describes the process that has inspired the band's hits and viral videos.

About Damian Kulash

When I was in high school, the best way I could describe myself was as a parent's worst nightmare: I didn't care about my education, didn't do homework, and was known to sleep in class. My SAT score was so bad that I still don't know how I did! My very frustrated mom threw that letter in the trash.

Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson is not letting the pandemic slow him down. The Roots drummer, DJ, author and entrepreneur is still performing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, DJ'ing live on Instagram, and he and his Roots' bandmate Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter recently signed a production deal with NBC. As if that weren't enough, tonight he's hosting Questlove's Potluck, a virtual dinner party on the Food Network.

Addiction is often a family affair. Sometimes those growing up in families with addiction overcome their circumstances and find a sustainable way to be a person in the world. Sometimes they don't.

Mikel Jollett did.

In times of crisis, we find it easy to create false idols. In this week’s Keepin’ It Real commentary, Cam Marston evaluates whether his first cup of coffee each day has become an idol for him...   

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.


Check the hashtag #quaranzine on social media and you'll see thousands of mini books — called zines — that people are making to document their lives in the pandemic.

Read the comic to find out how you can make one yourself — including how to fold your zine and what to write about. All you'll need is a sheet of paper, a pen, 30 minutes and a little creativity.