Arts

7:19am

Fri September 13, 2013
The Two-Way

Book News: National Book Awards' '5 Under 35' Picks Are All Women

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 8:44 am

Amanda Coplin received her MFA from the University of Minnesota, and now resides in Portland, Ore.
Corina Bernstein HarperCollins

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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7:03am

Fri September 13, 2013
Book Reviews

Atwood Imagines Humanity's Next Iteration In 'MaddAddam'

With her weird, wistful new novel MaddAddam, Margaret Atwood completes the apocalyptic trilogy she began with Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. Like its predecessors, MaddAddam is a blend of satiric futurism and magic realism, a snarky but soulful peek at what happens to the world after a mad scientist decimates humanity with a designer disease. That mad scientist is the brilliant bioengineer Crake, whose story is retold in this novel by the Crakers, the post-humans he designed to experience no sexual jealousy, and to eat nothing but plants.

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7:03am

Fri September 13, 2013
Book Reviews

Death And The Aging Hipster: A Tale Of Intolerable Men

Norman Rush's other books include Mating, Whites and Mortals.
Michael Lionstar Courtesy Knopf

What happens when hipsters grow up? Do they become less insufferable with age? Do they learn to contribute something useful to the society they've long scorned, and in turn were scorned by? Maybe they, like Norman Rush's deceased character Douglas, leave New York City and go live in a castle somewhere, work on secret projects for the Israeli government, get a trophy wife and raise a child who opts to worship Odin and live wild in the surrounding forest.

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3:05am

Fri September 13, 2013
The Salt

The Secret To Making It Through A Yom Kippur Fast? Kreplach

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 12:11 pm

Kreplach, a special Jewish holiday dish that can be made essentially out of leftovers.
Courtesy of Caren Alpert

To mark the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, Jews fast from sundown to sundown. But before the sun sets, friends and family gather to enjoy one final meal. And for the Jews of Eastern Europe, that meal traditionally includes kreplach.

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7:03pm

Thu September 12, 2013
Movie Reviews

Meet Brandon Darby, Grass-Roots Activist (And FBI Rat)

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 10:13 am

Brandon Darby, a onetime leftist activist who eventually became an FBI informant, has had his share of both detractors and admirers — many of whom appear in a new documentary about his life and work.
Music Box Films

For a while in Jamie Meltzer's mesmerizing documentary Informant, I wondered whether subject Brandon Darby, the lefty activist turned FBI informer, was being played by an actor.

But no: It's Darby, and he's a handsome fellow, with haunted eyes blazing out of a bone structure to die for, and with a Montgomery Clift dimple in his chin. Staring straight into the camera, he testifies with the intense calm of a messiah or a madman, which all too often comes to the same thing. Among other things, this powerfully confused man is a study in American extremity.

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5:03pm

Thu September 12, 2013
Movie Reviews

A Marriage, A Mother, A Move From Culture To Culture

Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 6:51 pm

The Iowa-born, Zimbabwe-bred actress Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead) stars as half of a Nigerian couple living in Brooklyn and coping with culture clash in Mother of George.
Oscilloscope Laboratories

From the start, Mother of George looks at its two protagonists, Adenike (Danai Gurira) and Ayodele (Isaach de Bankole), across distinct gender lines. The film opens at their traditional Yoruba wedding with two contrasted, tightly framed, straight-on shots of the groom and bride's parties.

Later, after the ceremonies, the differences between the two groups become more defined: We watch the women give Adenike child-rearing advice, while the men talk about how best to hide their infidelities.

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5:03pm

Thu September 12, 2013
Movie Reviews

From A Saudi Director, A Familiar Story Made Fresh Again

All Wadjda (Waad Mohammed) wants is her own bicycle — but as Haifaa Al Mansour's film illustrates, that's a tricky proposition for a young girl living in Saudi Arabia.
Tobias Kownatzki Razor Film/Sony Pictures Classics

Wadjda is the sort of lovable young hustler we've seen in scores of films — a 10-year-old who wants something and will lie, threaten and cajole to get it.

But Wadjda's familiar premise is transformed by its unexpected location: The movie's protagonist lives in Saudi Arabia, and what she wants, even if she doesn't exactly realize it, is freedom.

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5:01pm

Thu September 12, 2013
NPR's Backseat Book Club

How One Unkind Moment Gave Way To 'Wonder'

Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 6:16 pm

Random House

In Wonder, R.J. Palacio tells the story of Auggie, a tough, sweet, 10-year-old boy, who was born with distorted facial features — a "craniofacial difference" caused by an anomaly in his DNA.

Palacio tells NPR's Michele Norris that the book was inspired by a real-life encounter with her own kids six years ago. They were at an ice cream store and sat next to a little girl with a severe facial deformity. Palacio's 3-year-old son cried in fear, so the author grabbed her kids and fled. She was trying to protect the girl but also avoid her own discomfort.

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2:03pm

Thu September 12, 2013
Book Reviews

Filmmaker Turns To Education Reform, Gets 'Schooled'

While researching his buoyant, impassioned (and thoroughly subtitled) new book about education, I Got Schooled: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America's Education Gap, M. Night Shyamalan suddenly found himself at the head of an inner-city school English classroom. And he was terrified. "Time stopped," he writes, "similar to when you are on a plane with turbulence that's supposed to last thirty seconds, but it feels like much, much longer."

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12:52pm

Thu September 12, 2013
Monkey See

Toronto 2013: Some Film Festival Highs And Lows

Julianne Nicholson, Meryl Streep, and Julia Roberts in August: Osage County.
Toronto International Film Festival

Tastiest Scenery To Chew: August: Osage County, the John Wells-directed adaptation of the Tracy Letts stage play, stars Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis, Chris Cooper, Margo Martindale, Benedict Cumberbatch, and a generally very impressive cast. But Streep is cranked up to 11 as the miserable, pill-popping matriarch. I expect her to win an Oscar for this role, simply because it's so over-the-top and because she is compelling in it.

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