At least since Pygmalion prayed for his beautiful ivory statue to become a real woman, men have struggled to find a mate who is almost literally made for them. Today you can turn to any number of algorithm-based websites to find your romantic ideal; you can even special-order brides from faraway lands. But in Georgian England, one well-heeled young man sought out his perfect love in a rather shocking and unlikely place: an orphanage.
In Jean Thompson's latest novel, The Humanity Project, humanity isn't doing so well and could use some help. Sean is a wayward carpenter whose bad luck with women turns into even worse luck: He's addicted to painkillers, and he and his teenage son Conner are facing eviction. Linnea is the teen survivor of a school shooting who travels west to California to live with a father she barely knows. Mrs. Foster is a wealthy woman who's taken to living with feral cats, and whose "Humanity Project" just might take a chance on people who thought they were out of luck.
Originally published on Tue April 23, 2013 12:43 pm
Most people would be hard-pressed to call Wal-Mart a source of artistic inspiration. A place to purchase peanut butter, cereal and other mundane necessities? Yes. But a rendezvous spot with transcendence? Hardly.
April is National Poetry Month, and NPR is celebrating by asking young poets what poetry means to them. This week, Weekend Edition speaks with Nate Klug, whose poems have appeared in Poetry, Threepenny Review and other journals. Klug is also a master of divinity candidate at the Yale Divinity School and a candidate for ordination in the United Church of Christ. "It's nice to go home from a day of thinking about the church to this whole other world of poetry," he says. "But obviously there are some really amazing ways that they intersect."
Originally published on Sun April 21, 2013 10:10 am
These days, nothing says amateur hour quite like an alphabetical bookshelf. From lifestyle magazines to design blogs (admittedly a short distance), there are limitless suggestions for how you should treat your books. You can arrange them by genre, by time period, by size or by color (all well and good until you realize how strangely few books have purple spines). You can stack them in height order. You can angle them across the wall in gentle waves of Swedish manufacture. My own system of classification is one of emotional practicality.
Ursula von Rydingsvard makes huge sculptures out of red cedar. The 70-year-old is one of the few women working in wood on such a scale.
Her pieces are in the permanent collections of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art. And now they're also part of a new show at Manhattan's Museum of Arts and Design. It's called "Against the Grain" — a phrase that could just as well describe the sculptor's life and career.
In his systematic scrutiny of the modern American food chain, Michael Pollan has explored everything from the evolution of edible plants to the industrial agricultural complex. In his newest book, he charts territory closer to home — or rather, at home, in his kitchen.
Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation surveys how the four classical elements — fire, water, air and earth — transform plants and animals into food. Pollan joins NPR's Rachel Martin to discuss the merits of slow home cooking and his adventures in fermentation.
On-air challenge: Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name with the initials "J.R."
Last week's challenge from listener Sandy Weisz: Take a common English word. Write it in capital letters. Move the first letter to the end and rotate it 90 degrees. You'll get a new word that is pronounced exactly the same as the first word. What words are these?