Books about books can be tricky things, a fact that Erika Swyler slyly acknowledges in her generous yet somewhat disappointing debut novel, The Book of Speculation. In it, a young librarian named Simon Watson finds himself in the midst of numerous erosions and breakdowns: His family has all but disintegrated following the death of his parents, budget cuts are threatening his job at a Long Island library, and the house that's belonged to his family for generations is in the process of gradual collapse.
In Woman in Gold, Helen Mirren plays Maria Altmann — an octogenarian Jewish refugee who fought to recover the Gustav Klimt paintings the Nazis seized from her family in Vienna at the outset of World War II. On Friday, Mirren received an award for her performance at New York's Neue Galerie, which is now home to more Klimts than anywhere else in the country.
Comedian Marc Maron's WTF podcast might not seem like the place for a typical presidential interview, but several months ago the White House reached out to Maron to see if he'd be interested in having Barack Obama as his guest. "I just didn't think that it would ever happen," Maron says.
Editor's Note: We've been having so much fun running advice columns from the Internet's own Chaucer Doth Tweet, we've brought him back to dispense wisdom on all things summery. As always, Middle English is involved.
Cyborgs and androids are nowhere to be seen in the new USA show Mr. Robot. Instead, the drama is centered on a very human interior — the mind of Elliot, the unlikely hacker hero. From his first words — "Hello, friend" — his voice-over keeps audiences squarely inside his world.
"Elliot is sort of an internal, isolated guy who can't really interact with people socially, in real life, but online he can hack them and knows all the intimate, private details of them," Sam Esmail, the show's creator and executive producer, tells NPR's Arun Rath.
Mia Alvar was born in the Philippines, but as a small child her family moved to Bahrain. A few years later, they moved again, this time to New York.
The cities of her childhood are the settings in her debut collection of short stories, In The Country. The nine stories feature very different characters, in and outside of the Philippines, who are grappling with some form of exile or emigration.
"Part of the project," she tells NPR's Arun Rath, "was getting behind the official, sometimes sentimental, narrative about overseas Filipino workers."
The acclaimed U.S. author died in New York at age 90. A master of his craft, Salter never received the mainstream success many believe he deserved. His novels include A Sport and a Pastime and All That Is.
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On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is called "Monkey Business." Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase starting with "M" and "B" — as in "monkey business."
Last week's challenge: Think of an adjective that describes many shampoos. Add the brand name of a shampoo in its basic form. The result, reading the letters in order from left to right, will name a famous musician. Who is it?