Fourteen-year-old Doug Swieteck seems to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. He has just moved to a new town, where he doesn't have any friends, and where his teachers — and the police — think of him as nothing more than a "skinny thug."
So it's easy to understand why Doug, the protagonist of our latest book for NPR's Backseat Book Club, Okay for Now, is anything but a happy-go-lucky kid.
In February, NPR's Backseat Book Club read a novel about a troubled kid who finds both strength and solace in the artwork of the renowned naturalist John James Audubon. The novel, Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt, takes place in 1968 in a little town in upstate New York where middle-schooler Doug Swietek is drowning in life's complications.
After a weekend that saw journalists on the Oscars red carpet struggling to pronounce the name of 9-year-old Best Actress nominee Quvenzhané Wallis, we decided to ask the Twitter masses for their funniest or most annoying stories about people mispronouncing their "unconventional" or "ethnic" names.
Here's a few of the best:
Do you have any similar stories? We'd love to hear them in the comments.
Brad Leithauser likes to look for poetry in graveyards. A novelist and poet himself, there's something he values greatly in tombstone epitaphs: brevity.
"You really don't want to go on at great length," he tells NPR's Neal Conan. "There's something very touching ... in seeing how they are meant to be commemorated, often in little bits of verse here and there."
Six former heads of the Shin Bet — Israel's security agency — speak to director Dror Moreh in his Oscar-nominated documentary The Gatekeepers. They are men who have signed off on brutal interrogations and targeted killings. They have given their lives to the cause of Israeli security.
What is striking is that all articulate their shared conviction that the continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories will not lead to peace or a political solution for the future of the state of Israel.
You're listening to ASK ME ANOTHER, NPR's hour of puzzles, word games, and trivia. I'm your host Ophira Eisenberg and this hour we're featuring some of the most mind-bending games we have ever played. In the studio with me is our puzzle editor Art Chung and our next number is called Top Row, which unfortunately has nothing to do with top shelf. It has everything to do with QWERTYUIOP.
Finally, what we've all been waiting for. Let's bring back the winners of our previous rounds to play our Ask Me One More final round.
EISENBERG: From Answer in the Form of a Question: Nick Hudak. From Top Row: Lorna Jordan. From the Philosopher's Comedy Club: Stan Lee. From Call Me M.B.: Peter Hoffman. And from Buy a Vowel: Jessica O'Connell.
EISENBERG: And I'm going to ask our puzzle guru John Chaneski to take us out. What do we got, John?
Have no fear, we're about to dumb it down here a little bit.
EISENBERG: We are taking a departure from philosophy and going to pop music.
EISENBERG: I'm sure our next two contestants are excited about that. We have Noel Camacho and Peter Hoffman, and I believe they can handle that. Let's find out. They are behind their puzzle hot seats, although they're standing, so it's more like puzzle hot spots. Noel, you have some big things that you do with your life.