Books

Martinis And Manuscripts: Publishing In The Good Old Days

Aug 19, 2013

Elissa Schappell is the author of Blueprints for Building Better Girls.

In the good old, bad old days of book publishing, screaming matches happened in public, not online; the boss' philandering was an open secret never leaked to the press, and authors actually had to turn in their manuscripts in order to get money out of their publisher.

A Dystopian View Of America's 'Fallen' Suburbs

Aug 18, 2013

The suburbs can be a creepy place. And they are at their creepiest in Patrick Flanery's new novel, Fallen Land. Set outside an unnamed American city, this dark and complex thriller plays out in a half-built subdivision where construction ground to a halt during the housing crisis.

Go to your nearest paperback rack, and odds are, you'll see two or three, or four, or — well, a lot of books by Debbie Macomber, an author The Sacramento Bee has dubbed "the reigning queen of women's fiction."

Macomber has 170 million books in print; the newest, Rose Harbor in Bloom, has just been released. Her publisher, Random House, celebrated Macomber's selling power earlier this month with a fan retreat at the Gaylord Opryland resort in Nashville, where 400 women gathered for a weekend of tea, knitting and literary friendship.

Author David Ewalt was in the fourth grade when he got hooked on Dungeons & Dragons.

"I was at one of my friends' houses on a weekend after school. And he broke out this weird game," Ewalt tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "[He] said 'hey, do you guys want to fight some monsters and explore a dungeon?'"

Now a grown man, Ewalt still can't help but spread the good word about the game. He's written a new book about it, called Of Dice and Men.

Before abolitionist and Harpers Ferry raider John Brown became a hymn, he was a flesh and blood human being: Bible-thumping, rifle-toting, heroic and maybe more than a little unhinged.

When Dylan Dethier graduated from high school a few years ago, he didn't go on to the local college, join the Army or hitchhike cross-country. He hit golf courses, on a trip across America to play a round of golf in each of the Lower 48 states.

He played the posh course at Pebble Beach, yes; but mostly public courses across the country, including one in hard-hit Flint, Mich., another in North Dakota and one in a corner of Alabama. Over the course of a year he slept with an ax under his car seat, lost his virtue, and looked at America from green to shining green.

Tales of Jesse James's exploits have grown to almost mythological proportions since the actual man and his gang galloped over the plains stealing horses, holding up trains, and robbing banks in the years after the Civil War. Shot All To Hell: Jesse James, The Northfield Raid, and the Wild West's Greatest Escape is a new book about the legendary man.

Part of our summer reading series Island Reads, highlighting authors from the Caribbean

Andrea Stuart was curious about her family's history in Barbados. And through years of careful research, she found that her bloodline includes both slave owners and slaves. She has written about her own family, as well as a detailed history of slavery in the Caribbean, in her book Sugar in the Blood. Guest host Celeste Headlee talks with Stuart about her family history, the moral complexity of slavery and finding roots in the past.

What happens in our brains while we're asleep? That's one question neuroscientist Penelope Lewis is trying to answer. She directs the Sleep and Memory Lab at the University of Manchester in England. Her new book is The Secret World of Sleep: The Surprising Science of the Mind at Rest.

Lewis joins Fresh Air's Terry Gross to talk about how sleep affects memory, and how REM sleep can affect depression.


Interview Highlights

On how sleep makes memory stronger

In the world of book publishing, ravaged though it may be, the name Farrar, Straus & Giroux still bespeaks literary quality. It's a publishing house that boasts a roll call of 25 Nobel Prize winners and heavyweights like Susan Sontag, Carlos Fuentes, Joan Didion, Philip Roth and Jonathan Franzen. A lot of writers, past and present, have turned down higher advances for their books from other publishing houses for the honor of being an FSG author.

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