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Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

The middle of summer is when the surprises in publishing turn up. I'm talking about those quietly commanding books that publishers tend to put out now, because fall and winter are focused on big books by established authors. Which brings us to The Dream Life of Astronauts, by Patrick Ryan, a very funny and touching collection of nine short stories that take place in the 1960s and '70s around Cape Canaveral, Fla.

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As Deep Cuts Loom, Continued Appeals For A Deal, Finger-Pointing

Feb 24, 2013
Originally published on February 25, 2013 10:01 am

With less than a week before the across-the-board-spending cuts go into effect, Republicans and Democrats are sounding off about the sequestration.

"There's easy ways [sic] to cut this money that the American people will never feel," Rep. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said on Fox News Sunday. "What you hear is an outrage because nobody wants to cut spending ... and it will be somewhat painful, but not cutting spending is going to be disastrous for our country."

But Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned of the consequences of the cuts as a result of sequestration.

"We're not making this up to put pain on the American people," he said on NBC's Meet the Press. "We are required to cut a billion dollars and we're going to do that unless congress gets together and works together."

The nation's governors, meeting in Washington, called for a last-minute deal to stave off the cuts.

"There can't be any question. This is something that nobody wants," said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat. "It's not a balanced, thoughtful compromise or a set of choices."

Pat McCrory, North Carolina's Republican governor, said President Obama and Congress must work together to fix the budget.

"We want Washington to fix its problem and right now I want to ask the president, along with congressional leaders, to get in a room and do what governors are doing across this nation and start reading their budgets and making the tough decisions as opposed to across-the-board cuts," he said.

The cuts could have far-reaching effects. As NPR's Tom Bowman reported last week, Pentagon officials have notified Congress that they will furlough some 800,000 civilian defense contractors for one day per week should sequestration kick in on March 1.

Speaking on CNN's State of the Union, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said across-the-board cuts "are the worst and most cowardly way to approach this situation."

He added: "Republican leaders should be saying to the president along with Democratic leaders, let's sit down and work this out. That's the way we've avoided crises in the past."

News of the sequester is also dominating the newspapers. The Washington Post has a timeline on its website that details the sequester's origins. And The New York Times is reporting on the blame game both sides are playing for bringing the country to this point.

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