Patricia Volk's mother was beautiful in a way that stopped people on the street. Strangers compared her to Lana Turner and Grace Kelly. She was stylish and vain: Her beauty and its preservation mattered to her. "She had an icy blond beauty, an imperious kind of beauty," Volk tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.
Martin Scorsese is a legend of a director — and he's also a great film teacher, a man who balances a passion for the medium with a deep knowledge of its history. Delivering this year's installment of the National Endowment for the Humanities' prestigious Jefferson Lecture — a talk he titled "Persistence of Vision: Reading the Language of Cinema" — Scorsese demonstrated his speaking chops as well.
Monday night was the big night for unusual dresses (you may remember a previous post about Madonna's bunny ears): the Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, known as the "Met Ball." It had a loose punk theme (because the costume exhibit it's celebrating is punk-centric), but everyone got up to quite a bit of her own thing.
Let me tell you a quick story from NPR's move from our old headquarters to our new one.
When I was emptying out my old desk and workspace, in addition to all the shoes under my desk and an alarming number of vessels designed to keep coffee warm, I had quite a lot of books lying around. Some were upcoming books, most were old books, and a few were books I neither had any use for nor could bear to get rid of. One of the tests I applied was that if I picked up a book and the first page I opened to made me laugh, it survived.
The words "grossed out" evoke enough of a watery 1980s vibe that they need to be saved for the times when they really apply: movie scenes where somebody sticks something in somebody else's eye, sewage spills, and so forth.
Kurt Cobain of Nirvana during the taping of MTV Unplugged at Sony Studios in New York City in November 1993.
Credit Frank Micelotta / Getty Images
It's generally understood that something about MTV was revolutionary. Perhaps it was the music video, perhaps it was the short attention span, perhaps it was The Real World, but something about MTV had enough cultural permanency that it made for a fine oral history from Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum, called I Want My MTV, in late 2011.
There are many things to savor about Elanor Dymott's debut suspense novel, Every Contact Leaves a Trace -- among them, its baroque narrative structure and its clever manipulation of the stock, husband-who-hasn't-got-a-clue character. But Dymott really won me over when she pulled Robert Browning out of her crime kit. Nobody reads Robert Browning anymore, do they? As far as I can tell, high schools have thrown in the towel when it comes to teaching Victorian poetry; dissertations on Browning's dramatic monologues have all but dried up.
How do you write an absorbing novel about unspeakable things? It's always a tricky business, and an editor I know once described the dilemma this way: "A reader needs to want to go there." What "there" means is the self-contained world of the book. And what would make a reader want to go deeply into a world of hopelessness and seemingly perpetual war, a world of torture and intimidation and exploding land mines? There are many answers. One of the most obvious, of course, is the language.