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Enter The Legend: 'Dragon' Turns 45

Aug 17, 2018

When the seminal martial arts film Enter the Dragon premiered in August 1973 — 45 years ago this weekend — it was exactly what Bruce Lee had been waiting for: A starring role in a Hollywood production.

Well, it's safe to say Netflix giveth and Netflix taketh away.

Only a week after the Grand Takething that was Insatiable, the streamer brings along To All The Boys I've Loved Before, a fizzy and endlessly charming adaptation of Jenny Han's YA romantic comedy novel.

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When I began reviewing books and movies many years ago, I recall the editor at the magazine where I freelanced telling me that the rule of thumb was not to say too much about any given title. This was long before reviews appeared with the word "spoilers" at the top; the age of ink on paper.

Director Crystal Moselle made waves three years ago when her documentary The Wolfpack won the grand jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival. The film told the true story of six brothers growing up in confinement in Manhattan's Lower East Side — and it all began from a chance encounter Moselle had with the brothers on the street.

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The first time you see 'sand piracy,' it might sound surreal — a misguided Pixar villain whose lackeys race down the beach with empty buckets and sinister intent, doomed to fail in the face of a resource that spans the whole ocean.

Then you find out about someone stealing 1,300 feet of sand from a beach in Jamaica, or the many sand miners whose dredgers suck sand from the ocean floor by the ton and, suddenly, it doesn't sound as funny — or as impossible — as it did before.

Kate Walbert's most powerful novel yet is a case study in the perversities of power imbalances. This slim but by no means slight novel continues Walbert's explorations of how society's sexual biases and constraints have hampered women, a theme that has driven all six of her books, including A Short History of Women (2009) and her most recent, The Sunken Cathedral (2015). But with a timeliness so acute it feels ripped-from-the-headlines, His Favorites amps up the outrage and packs a punch far greater than its weight class.

The history of jazz in the 20th century is well known, but the course of the genre in the 21st century is still being charted. According to Nate Chinen, music critic for NPR Music and WBGO, jazz in the new millennium has enjoyed a type of Renaissance thanks to some key players.

I first saw Crazy Rich Asians at an advance press screening at a small, newish theater in Manhattan's Chinatown, and let me tell you: I arrived a little anxious and skeptical.

If you've spent more than five minutes with me, you'll know that I am predisposed to those two emotions. It did not escape me that the theater holding the press screening could be considered still another gentrifying force in rapidly changing Chinatown. The fact that I and the friend I brought were one of the few Asian-Americans in the theater also did not escape me.

Nico Walker is in jail for robbing banks.

He can use the pay phone for 15 minutes at a time, and then he has to wait a half-hour. It took a while to do an interview.

That's also sort of the way he wrote his debut novel, Cherry — on a typewriter, with a hundred-or-so other guys looking over his shoulder.

"It was something that I was doing when I was locked up," he says. "Something to pass the time. But I didn't — I wasn't planning to write a novel, you know, autobiographical or anything like that."

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I've been a fan of Kevin Wilson's writing since 2011, when I read his debut novel The Family Fang. That novel delved into the life of a husband and wife pair of performance artists who worked their young children into their pieces. Without being pat about it, Wilson drove home the realization that every family constitutes its own rag-tag troupe of performance artists and that children are mostly at the mercy of their parents' "acts."

When film critic Roger Ebert left the Cannes Film Festival premiere of Do the Right Thing in 1989, he had tears in his eyes. Few film-going experiences, he reflected in a 2001 essay, rivaled that first viewing of the Spike Lee classic.

In the early '90s, scarring kids for life became big business. R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike became brand name industries, minting money and traumatizing children. Stine had his Fear Street and Goosebumps series, while Pike turned out a seemingly endless line of young adult novels about teenagers killing teenagers, ancient dinosaurs disguised as teenagers killing teenagers, ghost teenagers killing non-ghost teenagers, and Greek gods reincarnated as teenagers killing teenagers. But this was simply the final development in decades of YA horror.

David Joy's new novel The Line That Held Us begins with a terrible accident.

Darl Moody is looking to poach a deer in the woods, when he accidentally kills another man — Carol Brewer, who is himself poaching for ginseng roots. Both are "working-class rural people who are just kind of doing what they have to do in order to survive," as David Joy says in an interview.

'Baghdad Noir' Presents A City Of Diverse Experiences

Aug 12, 2018

Just when you think the Noir Series from Akashic Books has gone everywhere — Lagos, Montana, and earlier this year, Prague — editors Tim McLoughlin and Johnny Temple (the publisher of Akashic) find a new city or country or locale. The latest entry, Baghdad Noir, edited by Samuel Shimon, identifies neighborhoods and places in which the stories happen, with a frontispiece map showing city districts.

Perhaps best known for his novel A Bend in the River, V.S. Naipaul was a controversial figure in the literary world. The Nobel Prize-winning writer died on Saturday at his London home, the author's agent confirms to NPR. He was 85.

His wife Nadira Naipaul, who was at his side when he passed, said he was "a giant in all that he achieved and he died surrounded by those he loved having lived a life which was full of wonderful creativity and endeavor," The Associated Press reports.

A new movie from director Spike Lee has a premise that's almost impossible to believe.

It's 1978 and a black police detective in Colorado Springs, Colo., manages to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan. He not only gets a membership card straight from Grand Wizard David Duke, but he's also asked to lead a local chapter because he's everything they are looking for — loyal, smart and a true believer.

He establishes a relationship with David Duke over the phone. And for meetings in person, he recruits a white co-worker to go in his place.

First, Nell Stevens wrote Bleaker House, a memoir about failing to write a novel. Now, in The Victorian and the Romantic, she has written a memoir about struggling to write her doctoral dissertation.

Writing about how writing is hard tends to be solipsistic and dreary, but these procrastination-born books have, instead, a kind of truant charm — like they know they should really be the other, more serious thing, the great work, but we're all here now so we may as well go get a drink.

This week we recorded our show in Chicago's Millennium Park, and invited Illinois native Jeff Tweedy to play our quiz. As a kid Tweedy lied about knowing how to play the guitar, but he must have figured it out eventually because he went on to form the bands Uncle Tupelo and Wilco.

Tweedy will play a game called "A Yankee, a hotel, and a foxtrot" — three questions about the namesakes of one of Wilco's most beloved albums.

Click the audio link above to see how he does.

When we first meet Yi Jin, the lithe heroine of Kyung-Sook Shin's atmospheric, tragic novel The Court Dancer translated by Anton Hur, she stands at a ship's helm beside "a tall Frenchman, his pale face covered in a mustache," while she holds "a hat embroidered with roses and a coat to wear later when the wind blew," with a "light blue dress that rustled like lapping waves." That last image is appropriate, since Jin is gazing out on the ocean for the first time.

Ling Ma was in the last months of a tedious office job when she began writing her first novel. The company was downsizing, and as her coworkers got laid off, the office became "silent and desolate," Ma recalls.

Eventually Ma lost her job, too. The first few weeks were liberating — she called her unemployment check her "arts fellowship" — and she turned her attention to her debut novel.

To tell how the nation's first black beer festival came to be held in Pittsburgh, you might start with a beer.

Maybe it was that introductory Sam Adams Boston Lager that longtime Michelob and Heineken guy Mike Potter drank more than a decade ago. "It had a completely different profile, a completely different taste, you know, completely different aroma," he says. "It just elevated my curiosity."

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