Arts

Arts and culture

As a teenager, James Alan McPherson worked as a passenger-car waiter on the Great Northern Railroad. The experience shaped him as a man and as a writer; he would spend his life producing short fiction and essays exploring race and class in America — the gulf separating white privilege from the black experience. One of his first published stories, "On Trains," included in his fiction collection Hue and Cry, chronicles a white woman's unthinking treatment of black waiters and porters on a train, and subtly reveals its lingering effects on all involved.

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QUIZ: How Much Do You Know About Presidents And Food?

8 hours ago

It's convention season, which means the presidential election is in full swing.

There has always been a lot to divide politicians, but we at The Salt are interested in what brings them together: They all have to eat.

So we paged through our archives for stories about U.S. presidents and their predilections for — and embarrassing mishaps with — certain foods. How much do you know about presidents and food? Take our quiz to test your credentials.

Minicomics May Be Small, But They Pack Big Thrills

9 hours ago

Shouldn't minicomics be obsolete by now? Printed by their creators in tiny batches and sold for a few bucks at "alternative" comic shops and conventions, they're as cumbersome to produce as they are to obtain. It would be much more sensible for the artists to just put up their work online — right?

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

You don't hear the word jingle much in advertising anymore, but there was a time when the jingle was king. Once ad agencies came up with their concepts or slogans, they needed music to make their sell.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Now that the latest season of Game of Thrones has ended, fans may be feeling a little untethered — and some publishers would like to fill that gap with serialized books. As TV dramas get better and better, book publishers are hoping to convert binge TV watchers into binge readers.

The baristas have spoken, and Starbucks is listening: The company says it's loosening its dress code for in-store employees. Yes, the green aprons remain, but you may begin noticing more personal flair underneath.

A company announcement invites baristas "to shine as individuals while continuing to present a clean, neat and professional appearance."

Novelists have always put their heroines through awful ordeals. But over time, these tribulations change. Where the 19th Century was filled with fictional women trapped in punishing marriages — think of Middlemarch or The Portrait of a Lady — today's heroines face trials that are bigger, more political, and more physically demanding. They fight in hunger games.

The Television Critics Association is ... okay, that's the easy part. It's an association of people who write about television, mostly as critics, although many function, either instead or in addition, as reporters. I'm in it, as is NPR's full-time TV critic Eric Deggans, as are a couple hundred other people. And twice a year — once in the summer and once in the winter — we gather in the L.A. area for what's referred to as either "press tour" or "TCA," so that we can hear about what's coming up on TV and get a chance to talk to the people who make it.

The Panopticon, the 2013 debut by Scottish author Jenni Fagan, dealt with the tribulations of adolescence against a highly charged backdrop, a home for juvenile offenders that turns out to be more insidious than it seems. Adolescence also plays into Fagan's follow-up, The Sunlight Pilgrims, but that's only part of the picture.

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