Israeli graphic novelist Rutu Modan's deceptively clear and simple line work — she can conjure a face in two dots and a single, expressive pen stroke — is a deliberate artistic choice. Narratively, Modan's work (including the acclaimed Exit Wounds andher Jamilti and Other Stories) lives in the realm of the indistinct, the undefined and the hotly disputed. In her books, conflicts between family members, lovers and nations all occur in the context of Jewish cultural history.
An elaborate cake exactingly modeled from the work of a Dutch minimalist painter. A piece of literary criticism as interesting and expansive as its subject. A photograph of an eerie, antlered hat sculpted from feathers and tulle. Art criticism, written with a novelist's eye. Here are five books that traverse genre and medium, while keeping the same aim: to analyze, celebrate and re-imagine beautiful works of art.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. When you looked in the closet this morning, what did you pick out, and why? The power suit, the blouse that fits just right, the jeans and the boots? Even if you wear a uniform or overalls, we all make decisions about what we look like and why. Hair says a lot. So do accessories. But any message is also open to misinterpretation. What we hope to say doesn't always come across that way.
What makes Don Draper dashing is the suit, especially. And the hat, the jaw, the hair, the voice, the way he fixes his attention on a woman. But what makes Don Draper seductive as a person and not just a sexual partner is that he is perpetually a whisper away from being a better man. If he were just dashing, he would be harmless; it's that he's seductive that makes him dangerous. It's how close he seems to becoming better that makes him toxic.
Walter Mosley fooled us: We thought he'd killed off Easy Rawlins, the protagonist of his much-loved series. But it turned out Mosley just needed a break from the work — a long break. Six years later, in May, he came back with Little Green, possibly the best Easy Rawlins to date. Like the rest of the books in the series, it's strongly influenced by Los Angeles, the city that helped shape Mosley himself.
Louise Monaghan's journey to Syria to rescue her kidnapped daughter begins years ago at a club in Cyprus. It was there she met a Syrian man named Mostafa, whom she would marry.
"I was smitten from the first second," she tells NPR's Jacki Lyden. "I felt he was what I needed. He made me feel safe."
But Monaghan was not safe. Mostafa was verbally abusive and beat her. They married, and the couple had a daughter named May. When they divorced, Mostafa was given visitation rights, but he wanted more.