Writers & Writing

Author interviews, poetry and storytelling.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LAKSHMI SINGH, HOST:

We're going to revisit a story from NPR's American Anthem series, exploring songs that tap into the collective emotions that listeners and performers have around an issue or belief.

In the early '90s, scarring kids for life became big business. R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike became brand name industries, minting money and traumatizing children. Stine had his Fear Street and Goosebumps series, while Pike turned out a seemingly endless line of young adult novels about teenagers killing teenagers, ancient dinosaurs disguised as teenagers killing teenagers, ghost teenagers killing non-ghost teenagers, and Greek gods reincarnated as teenagers killing teenagers. But this was simply the final development in decades of YA horror.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

David Joy's new novel The Line That Held Us begins with a terrible accident.

Darl Moody is looking to poach a deer in the woods, when he accidentally kills another man — Carol Brewer, who is himself poaching for ginseng roots. Both are "working-class rural people who are just kind of doing what they have to do in order to survive," as David Joy says in an interview.

'Baghdad Noir' Presents A City Of Diverse Experiences

Aug 12, 2018

Just when you think the Noir Series from Akashic Books has gone everywhere — Lagos, Montana, and earlier this year, Prague — editors Tim McLoughlin and Johnny Temple (the publisher of Akashic) find a new city or country or locale. The latest entry, Baghdad Noir, edited by Samuel Shimon, identifies neighborhoods and places in which the stories happen, with a frontispiece map showing city districts.

Perhaps best known for his novel A Bend in the River, V.S. Naipaul was a controversial figure in the literary world. The Nobel Prize-winning writer died on Saturday at his London home, the author's agent confirms to NPR. He was 85.

His wife Nadira Naipaul, who was at his side when he passed, said he was "a giant in all that he achieved and he died surrounded by those he loved having lived a life which was full of wonderful creativity and endeavor," The Associated Press reports.

First, Nell Stevens wrote Bleaker House, a memoir about failing to write a novel. Now, in The Victorian and the Romantic, she has written a memoir about struggling to write her doctoral dissertation.

Writing about how writing is hard tends to be solipsistic and dreary, but these procrastination-born books have, instead, a kind of truant charm — like they know they should really be the other, more serious thing, the great work, but we're all here now so we may as well go get a drink.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Graceful 'Court Dancer' Can't Escape Her Sorrows

Aug 11, 2018

When we first meet Yi Jin, the lithe heroine of Kyung-Sook Shin's atmospheric, tragic novel The Court Dancer, she stands at a ship's helm beside "a tall Frenchman, his pale face covered in a mustache," while she holds "a hat embroidered with roses and a coat to wear later when the wind blew," with a "light blue dress that rustled like lapping waves." That last image is appropriate, since Jin is gazing out on the ocean for the first time.

"Hearing it changed everything for me," former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman told NPR on Friday.

Manigault Newman was referring to what she calls the "N-word tape" — a long-rumored but never surfaced tape of Donald Trump on the set of The Apprentice allegedly using the racial slur. In her interview with NPR's Rachel Martin, Manigault Newman claims to have heard the tape and heard Trump using that slur on the tape.

But that's not what it says in her tell-all book, Unhinged, due out on Tuesday.

Ling Ma was in the last months of a tedious office job when she began writing her first novel. The company was downsizing, and as her coworkers got laid off, the office became "silent and desolate," Ma recalls.

Eventually Ma lost her job, too. The first few weeks were liberating — she called her unemployment check her "arts fellowship" — and she turned her attention to her debut novel.

Karen Anderson essay: Humility

Aug 10, 2018
Windborne Studios

Every morning I collect the newspaper from the front porch, feed the cat, and plug in a pot of coffee.  Then I go down in the basement to clean out my cat’s litter box.

On my knees in my old fleece bathrobe, I attend to this daily ritual and ponder the merits of humility.  And I wonder if the rich and famous ever clean out the litter box, pick up the dog poop, scrub the bathroom?  Probably they do not, but maybe they should.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Earnest yet unpredictable, Nate Powell's graphic novel Come Again is a perfect example of what's possible when a creator roams outside of set conventions. Come Again fits no particular genre, though much of its style and tone resemble the slow-building, true-to-life narratives of Craig Thompson, Lucy Knisley and Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. But a touch of the mystical keeps this book off-kilter, raising the stakes on a story that might otherwise have seemed thin.

When I was a high school junior in New Orleans taking AP American history, my teacher assigned us a paperback book. Slim in contrast to our hulking required textbook, it was a funny, compelling, even shocking read. Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James Loewen, explained how history textbooks got the story of America wrong, usually by soft-pedaling, oversimplifying and burying the thorny drama and uncertainties of the past under a blanket of dull, voice-of-God narration.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

"Hate comes in many forms," Arjun Singh Sethi writes in American Hate, a collection of victims' testimonials.

Sethi, a Sikh American, is an activist lawyer and law professor who has become "sensitive to the rising tide of hate violence." We should not be surprised by this rise, he says, since "Trump told us who he was a long time ago... a racist and a sexist ... his ideologies are white supremacy and greed. He is the hater-in-chief..."

In the anthology The Art of Friction: Where (Non)Fictions Come Together, Marcia Douglas likens the kind of writing she does to spellcasting. And her new book, The Marvellous Equations of the Dread: A Novel in Bass Riddim no doubt has the air of a spell.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Rick Wilson can't sleep at night.

The Republican operative isn't known for being a thin-skinned, bring-me-the-smelling-salts, political naif. He has historically been a strategist who conservative candidates would call when campaigns took a turn — when it was time to go negative.

Meet the charmer of the summer, an epistolary novel about two strangers dismayed by where their lives have taken them. Dissatisfied farmer's wife Tina Hapgood and lonely museum curator Anders Larsen initially connect over a shared fascination with the miraculous Iron Age archaeological find known as the Tollund Man, but their relationship soon deepens as they begin to excavate their own chosen life paths in a series of letters.

The Battle for the Beach

Aug 6, 2018

The world is running out of sand. And it’s a problem.

Here’s how Vincent Beiser, writing for Wired, puts it.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Sand. It's everywhere, even in places you don't expect.

Pages