Sat January 19, 2013
Author Interviews

After 30 Years, Neil Jordan Returns To 'The Past'

Originally published on Sat January 19, 2013 7:13 am

Courtesy Soft Skull Press

Neil Jordan is best known as a filmmaker — he directed The Crying Game, Michael Collins, Interview with the Vampire and the Showtime series The Borgias — but he began his career as a writer. His first novel, The Past, was published in Ireland in 1980 to great acclaim.

The novel follows an enigmatic protagonist on his search for his family's secrets in a Cornish seaside town. Jordan joins NPR's Scott Simon to talk about The Past, which has been reissued in the United States by Soft Skull Press.

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Fri January 18, 2013
Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!

Melinda Gates Plays Not My Job

Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 12:19 pm

Courtesy Melinda Gates

Back in the early 1990s, Melinda French was a rising star at a software company when the boss asked her out on a date. This was complicated because he was her boss, and frankly, he was kind of a nerd. But they fell in love and got married, and decided to raise a family, retire from the business, and in their spare time give away more money to charity than anyone else in the history of the world.

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Fri January 18, 2013
Monkey See

I've Heard That Somewhere: 'Glee' Covers 'Baby Got Back,' And It Sounds ... Familiar

The cast of Glee, which is in its fourth season on Fox.
Kwaku Alston Fox


Fri January 18, 2013

'Mama': A Good Old-Fashioned Horror Movie

Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 1:29 pm

Victoria (Megan Charpentier) and her sister, Lilly (Isabelle Nelisse), are near-feral orphans in the horror thriller Mama.
Universal Pictures

I was weaned on horror movies and love them inordinately, but the genre has gone to the dogs — and to the muscle-bound werewolves, hormonal vampires, flesh-eating zombies, machete-wielding psychos, etc. It's also depressing how most modern horror pictures have unhappy nihilist endings in which everyone dies and the demons pop back up, unvanquished — partly because studios think happy endings are too soft, but mostly because they need their monsters for so-called franchises.

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Fri January 18, 2013
NPR Story

Dementia Takes The Stage In 'The Other Place'

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 1:03 pm

In the Broadway play The Other Place actress Laurie Metcalf ("Jackie" on the TV show "Roseanne") plays a scientist suffering from the dementia she studies. Playwright Sharr White discusses the play and the challenge of presenting complicated science on a theater stage.


Fri January 18, 2013
NPR Story

Edward Tufte Wants You to See Better

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 1:03 pm



This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Flora Lichtman. Up next: the man who wrote the book - well, the books, rather - on data visualization. He was doing infographics before everybody was doing infographics. Back in the '80s, data scientist Edward Tufte remortgaged his house so he could start a company and self-publish his first book, "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information." Sound like a snoozer? Well, that book, along with his others on the same topic, have sold more than a million-and-a-half copies.

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Fri January 18, 2013

Lance Armstrong, Tragic Hero? Not Exactly

Lance Armstrong admits to Oprah Winfrey that he used performance-enhancing drugs. The first part of the interview aired Thursday night.
Getty Images

Annalisa Quinn is a freelance writer for NPR Books.

Lance Armstrong, in the interview Thursday night with Oprah Winfrey in which he admitted to doping, understood the role that storytelling played in his fall: "You win the Tour de France seven times, you have a happy marriage, you have children. It's just this mythic, perfect story. And it wasn't true."

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Fri January 18, 2013
The Salt

Mixed Pickle: The Sweet And Sour Legacy Of Dutch Trade

Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 8:36 am

Pickles and herring, Amsterdam-style.

In Amsterdam, a popular street snack of brined herring comes with chopped onions and a side of sour pickle. The history of Dutch trade, too, is buried under those onions.

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Fri January 18, 2013
Author Interviews

The Inquisition: A Model For Modern Interrogators

Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 1:41 pm

An illustration shows heretics being tortured and nailed to wooden posts during the first Inquisition.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

This interview was originally broadcast on Jan. 23, 2012.

The individuals who participated in the first Inquisition 800 years ago kept detailed records of their activities. Vast archival collections at the Vatican, in France and in Spain contain accounts of torture victims' cries, descriptions of funeral pyres and even meticulous financial records about the price of torture equipment.

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Fri January 18, 2013
From The NPR Bookshelves

Brush Up For The Inauguration With Books By And About The Obamas

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama walk in the Inaugural Parade on Jan. 20, 2009 in Washington, D.C.
Ron Sachs-Pool Getty Images

As the nation gears up for the second inauguration of President Obama, NPR Books dove into the archives to find some of our favorite interviews with biographers of the first family. Here, you'll find profiles of the president's mother and father, an exploration of Michelle Obama's ancestral roots, and a portrait of the president and first lady's relationship. You'll also find books written by the Obamas themselves.

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