NWPR Books

NWPR Books
4:03 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Family, Intolerance And Dealing With Disaster In 'Burgess Boys'

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How often does the family car really kill one of its regular passengers? It's a recurring trope in literary fiction — the parent's moment of inattention that changes a household's fate forever — but in Elizabeth's Strout's novel The Burgess Boys, her follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize–winning Olive Kitteridge, that accident is flipped on its head. Here, it's the father who's been killed, at the hand of a child lured by the tempting gearshift, and the lives of the children that are changed forever.

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NWPR Books
4:03 am
Thu March 28, 2013

Exclusive First Read: Kate Atkinson's 'Life After Life'

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On a snowy night in 1910, a baby girl is born — and dies before she can take her first breath. She is born — and grows up to become an assassin who eliminates Hitler before he can take power. She is born — and lives a handful of different lives in a Britain descending into war; the book jumps from one narrative to another with a dreamy sort of logic. "Time isn't circular," she tells a therapist at one point. "It's like a ... palimpsest. ...

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NWPR Books
11:09 am
Wed March 27, 2013

The Apathy In 'A Thousand Pardons' Is Hard To Forgive

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Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 1:32 pm

Jonathan Dee likes to write about rich, good-looking people falling apart — and who among the 99 percent of us can't enjoy that plot? In The Privileges, the dad of the family was a Wall Street trader, tempted by existential boredom into larceny; in A Thousand Pardons, the dad of the family is a partner in a New York law firm, tempted by existential boredom into a disastrous workplace affair.

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NWPR Books
10:18 am
Wed March 27, 2013

Learning 'Life' Lessons With McCorkle's Seniors

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Amid a literary landscape increasingly rife with metafictional and postmodern high jinks, Jill McCorkle's sixth novel, Life After Life, is as resolutely down to earth and unpretentious as the hot-dog franchise owned by one of her characters. For her first novel in 17 years, McCorkle has dared to write a heartwarmer that takes place largely in a retirement home and stresses the importance of good old-fashioned kindness.

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NWPR Books
12:59 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

You're So Dumb, You Probably Think This Book Is About Getting Slapped

Oxford University Press

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 2:58 pm

William Irvine is a philosophy professor by day, but he has an unusual sideline: He's also a collector of insults. Irvine has gathered some of his favorite jibes into a new book called A Slap in the Face: Why Insults Hurt — And Why They Shouldn't.

Irvine tells NPR's Audie Cornish that one of his favorite masters of insult is Winston Churchill. "Nancy Astor [said] to Winston Churchill, 'if you were my husband, I would put poison in your coffee,' " Irvine says, to which Churchill replied, " 'If you were my wife, I would drink it.' "

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NWPR Books
10:33 am
Tue March 26, 2013

'Angry Days' Shows An America Torn Over Entering World War II

Before Pearl Harbor, aviator Charles Lindbergh was so vocal about his opposition to U.S. involvement in World War II that he became an unofficial leader of America's isolationist movement.
AP

Originally published on Tue March 26, 2013 12:30 pm

During the debate over whether to invade Iraq, or whether to stay in Afghanistan, many people looked back to World War II, describing it as a good and just war — a war the U.S. knew it had to fight. In reality, it wasn't that simple. When Britain and France went to war with Germany in 1939, Americans were divided about offering military aid, and the debate over the U.S. joining the war was even more heated. It wasn't until two years later, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and Germany declared war against the U.S., that Americans officially entered the conflict.

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NWPR Books
7:20 am
Tue March 26, 2013

Exclusive First Read: Meg Wolitzer's 'The Interestings'

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Meg Wolitzer returns with The Interestings, a big and deliciously complicated novel that follows a group of summer-camp friends through the decades. Jules, Ash, Ethan and Jonah first dubbed themselves "the Interestings" as teenagers in the sweltering confines of Boys Teepee 3 at the artsy camp Spirit-in-the-Woods. All of them are bright, talented kids — artists, musicians, actors — but what happens to close friendship and early promise when you grow up? For the Interestings, that question will have very different answers.

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NWPR Books
4:03 am
Tue March 26, 2013

Can This Hypercomplex 'Leopard' Change Its Spots?

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 4:39 pm

What's a reader to believe, especially when confronted with an unreliable narrator? Which of the many versions spun by the self-confessed liar and aspiring writer in Kristopher Jansma's far-flung, deliberately far-fetched, hyper-inventive first novel, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, should we buy? Does the seductive actress he pines for marry a) an Indian geologist on the edge of the Grand Canyon; b) a Japanese royal; or c) a Luxembourg prince?

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NWPR Books
12:30 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

In A World That's Always On, We Are Trapped In The 'Present'

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Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 2:59 pm

By now, you've probably heard people call themselves "slaves" to their phones or their computers. We all know what that means — but why are we allowing ourselves to be slaves to the very instruments of technology we've created?

Douglas Rushkoff, who spends his days thinking, writing and teaching about media culture, says it's time for people to stop chasing every ping and start using technology in a way that makes us feel more free. Rushkoff's latest work is called Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now. He joined NPR's Audie Cornish to talk about the book.

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NWPR Books
9:39 am
Mon March 25, 2013

How And Why The Hollywood Star Machine Made 'Gods Like Us'

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Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 11:25 am

As a film critic for The Boston Globe, Ty Burr has met a lot of movie stars and is often asked what they're really like. What he has realized is that often, the actor's image has little to do with their actual personality, but that's not what interests him; Burr is more curious about why we ask that question to begin with. Burr wants to know "why we respond to these people who we think are larger than life [and] that are — especially in the classic days — manufactured and all their irregularities sanded off and presented to us as some kind of perfection."

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