Books

NWPR Books
11:58 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

In 'Alphabet' Mysteries, 'S' Is Really For Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara County Courthouse, a Spanish-Moorish landmark, was built in 1929.
Anna Fox (harshlight) Flickr

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 6:27 am

Novelist Sue Grafton is a real hoot. She's just as likely to talk, in that native Kentucky drawl of hers, about her prized silver-coin mint julep cups as about a juicy murder mystery. But she does have a crime writer's imagination.

"I always say to people, 'Don't cross me, OK? Because you will be so sorry,'" she says. "'I have ways to kill you you ain't even thought of yet.'"

Read more
NWPR Books
3:03 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

Heading West: The Gritty, Luminous 'Son Of A Gun'

Justin St. Germain teaches at the University of New Mexico.
William Bledsoe

Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 5:17 pm

My parents married young — both were still undergraduates — and so by the time my father started graduate school in mathematics, he and my mother were the harried parents of three small children. They wanted us to see America. And so my father chose the University of Arizona — about as far as you could go from our West Virginia home without falling off the country's opposite edge. On our way, we stopped in Tombstone.

Read more
NWPR Books
10:07 am
Mon August 12, 2013

Addictive 'Infatuations' Takes A Metaphysical Look At Crime

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 10:48 am

If you're like me, you probably feel exhausted just thinking about how much cultural stuff is out there. A friend recently told me he was reading an acclaimed Hungarian novelist whose books I've never opened. "Please tell me he stinks," I begged, "so I don't have to read him."

"Actually, he's great," came the reply, and I groaned. This was something I didn't want to know.

Read more
NWPR Books
9:50 am
Mon August 12, 2013

Behind 'The New Black': The Real Piper's Prison Story

Taylor Schilling plays Piper in Netflix's Orange Is the New Black, which is based on Piper Kerman's memoir of her year in prison.
Jessica Miglio Netflix

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 8:18 am

Piper Kerman was a 24-year-old Smith College graduate in 1993, when she flew to Belgium with a suitcase of money intended for a West African drug lord.

This misguided adventure started when she began a romantic relationship with a woman who was part of what Kerman describes as a "clique of impossibly stylish and cool lesbians in their mid-30s." That woman was involved in a drug-smuggling ring, and got Kerman involved, too, though Kerman left that life after several months.

Read more
NWPR Books
12:39 pm
Sun August 11, 2013

'Dressing Constitutionally': When Fashion And Laws Collide

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 7:19 am

How short is too short, according to the law? Wardrobe choices, or lack thereof, raise all sorts of issues — from First Amendment concerns to questions of equality, sexuality and control.

Ruthann Robson's new book, Dressing Constitutionally Hierarchy, Sexuality, and Democracy from Our Hairstyles to Our Shoes, examines anecdotes throughout history demonstrating the ways fashion and laws can conflict or influence one another. Robinson talks with Jacki Lyden, host of weekends on All Things Considered, about some of those examples.

Read more
NWPR Books
9:29 am
Sun August 11, 2013

Author, Feminist, Pioneer: The Unlikely Queen Of Sci-Fi

Stephen Burt latest book is the poetry collection, Belmont.

We can go to science fiction for its sense of wonder, its power to take us to far-off places and future times. We can go to political fiction to understand injustice in our own time, to see what should change. We may go to poetry — epic or lyric, old or new — for what cannot change, for a sense of human limits, as well as for the music in its words.

Read more
NWPR Books
4:43 am
Sun August 11, 2013

Contested Memories Find Common Ground In 'The Storied South'

For four decades, William Ferris tracked down some of the most inspirational artists and historians of the American South. He sat down with Eudora Welty, Alice Walker, Pete Seeger, Bobby Rush and Alex Haley, capturing their reflections on tape and their images on camera.

Read more
NWPR Books
2:20 am
Sun August 11, 2013

The Beauty And Calm Of 'Thinking In Numbers'

Inga Ivanova iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 11:09 am

There are numbers all around us. They are in every word we speak or write, and in the passage of time. Everything in our world has a numeric foundation, but most of us don't see those numbers. It's different for Daniel Tammet. He's a savant with synesthesia, a condition that allows him to see beyond simple numerals — he experiences them.

Tammet drew attention around the world about a decade ago when he recited, from memory, the number pi. It took him five hours to call out 22,514 digits with no mistakes.

Read more
NWPR Books
4:03 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Magic And Politics Beyond The Portal In 'Guide'

It's one of the most familiar stories in fantasy: someone from our world stumbles on a gateway to a world entirely other — usually magical, sometimes dangerous, and always ripe for a great adventure. But despite the iconic image of a paradise just beyond the doorway, the portal fantasy is often, at heart, a cynical work. After all, some of folkore's most notable archetypes were supernatural threats who crossed from their world to ours to beleaguer us.

Read more
NWPR Books
1:31 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Libraries' Leading Roles: On Stage, On Screen And In Song

Poor Donna Reed: Her Mary would have ended up working in a library — shudder — if not for the matrimonial intervention of Jimmy Stewart's George Bailey. Happily, 1946's It's a Wonderful Life isn't the only lens through which pop culture assesses the worth of the institution and those who make it tick.
RKO Pictures Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 1:04 pm

When I was 9, I spent a lot of time at a public library just down the street; I was already a theater nerd, and it had a well-stocked theater section. Not just books, but original cast albums for Broadway shows old and new. One day, an addition: The Music Man, about a salesman who was crazy about a girl named, as one song put it, "Marrrrrrrion, madam librarian."

Read more

Pages