Scott Simon

Taffy Brodesser-Akner's parents got divorced when she was 6, but she didn't really think of her debut novel, Fleishman Is in Trouble, as "a divorce book."

"I don't like to think that a divorce haunted me ..." she says. "I'm intolerant of the people who use their parents' divorce into adulthood. I think, why can't you get over it? ... And, yet, look at me: This somehow became my art."

Why don't you hear a pterodactyl go to the bathroom? The P is silent.

I'm a father. I tell dad jokes.

See that farmer? A man outstanding in his field.

Peter Sokolowski, editor at large of Merriam-Webster, defined dad jokes for us as "an obvious or predictable pun or play on words and usually judged to be endearingly corny or unfunny."

Did you see that documentary about beavers? What a great dam show ...

Linda Fairstein won fame prosecuting criminals and then wrote crime fiction. Did she allow her gift for fiction to guide her powers as a prosecutor?

For 25 years, Linda Fairstein led sex crimes unit of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, which inspired Law and Order: SVU. She's written bestselling crime novels, like Blood Oath and Death Dance, about a hard-nosed, tenderhearted Assistant DA Alexandra Cooper who eats in a lot of New York's classiest Italian restaurants on a public servant's salary.

Now there's a mystery.

Quinn Christopherson is the winner of the 2019 Tiny Desk Contest, but there were many other outstanding performances among this year's 6,000-plus entries. Weekend Edition will highlight just some of those over the coming months.

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read.

The mother has come to Hartford, Conn. after living through a hellscape of war in Vietnam. She goes to work at a nail salon, smokes Marlboro Reds, and more than once — more than 20 times — beats her son. But she tells herself, "I'm not a monster. I'm a mother."

The son, known as Little Dog, bears some resemblance to his author, Ocean Vuong.

Bild is a tabloid, a German daily newspaper best-known for blaring headlines, fleshy photos and breathless coverage of gossip and scandals.

But this week, the newspaper ran a kippah on its front page: a Jewish skullcap that signifies reverence for God above. It's blue and white, with Stars of David. Readers could cut out the kippah and wear it.

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Nearly a half-century ago, in the summer of 1971, the young singer-songwriter Cass Wheeler entered a studio in London to record "Common Ground." A wistful acoustic-guitar and piano-dri

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(SOUNDBITE OF HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY'S PERFORMANCE OF MOZART'S "MASONIC FUNERAL MUSIC, K. 477")

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Craig Ferguson is in his upper 50s, and it's a small — maybe not so small — kind of a miracle that between drinking, drugs, and hard general hard living, he's around, and a quarter-century sober, to write this book.

Riding the Elephant is a series of reflections on what he's learned along the road of being a comic and a drummer in Scotland, a bouncer in New York, stints on American TV shows, including The Late Late Show, meeting Princess Diana, and all 12 steps of recovery.

On April 19, 1775, the "shot heard 'round the world" was fired on the Lexington, Mass. town green. No one knows for sure who fired the shot, but when British soldiers heard it, they panicked. The red coats fired at members of the local militia, killing eight and wounding 10. With that, the Revolutionary War had begun.

The Seychelles magpie-robin is about 9 inches long, with inky blue-black feathers, and white patches along its wings. There may be only 200 or so of these beguiling birds in the world, all in forests of the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa.

It is alarming to think of just a few birds left of a single species, isolated and fragile. It seems as if a sudden storm, or a rampant sickness, could extinguish them.

I was sitting next to a college chancellor at an event Tuesday night when our cell phones began to beep with the first bulletins about the shootings at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Two students were killed; four were injured.

"My first thought," Susan Koch, chancellor of the University of Illinois at Springfield, told me, "was, 'That could have been my campus.' All campuses in the U.S. are vulnerable."

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Baloji is an artist who finds strength in his roots but freedom in between genres. He was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but has lived in Belgium most of his life. The rapper is a well-known name in Belgium and France. He's received music honors for his work, but his life has been a journey of struggle and perseverance.

Margaret Trudeau married Pierre Trudeau, the 15th prime minister of Canada, when she was 22. He was 51. That marriage came apart — publicly, spectacularly — as she made public rounds with rockers, actors and other celebrities.

There has never been a better name for a person than Charity Sunshine Tillemann-Dick. She died this week, at the age of 35.

Charity was diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension when she was a young opera singer in Europe. She had two double lung transplants in the past 10 years, flatlined twice, sank into comas, suffered innumerable close calls and lights-blinking, horn-blaring intensive care unit emergencies, only to always to come roaring back with rekindled energy and sunny grace — to sing and to shine.

More than 400 firefighters answered the call when fire broke out in the Notre Dame Cathedral this Holy Week. As Lieutenant Colonel Gabriel Plus, spokesperson for the Paris firefighters, told the Agence France Press, "One doesn't imagine as a Paris firefighter one day intervening to save Notre Dame!"

"Time worked against us," he said. "The wind was against us, and we needed to retake control."

For the past three decades, Dervish has been at the forefront of reinventing traditional Irish folk songs. The Sligo-based band is "breathing new life" into the beloved music of its homeland with The Great Irish Songbook, an album pulling from an eclectic range of genres and the voices of over a dozen featured artists.

When Jeff Kinney started working on Diary of a Wimpy Kid, he thought he was writing a comic for adults. "I always thought of comics as being for grown-ups, or maybe just for everyone," he says. After eight years of work, he finally showed it to an editor and learned: "I had actually written a children's series which was an absolute surprise to me."

That "surprise" has now sold 180 million copies. There are 13 installments of Greg Heffley's diary and now, Greg's best friend Rowley Jefferson, is getting his own book — Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid.

An art show opens in El Paso today. It's what they call a "multi-sensory exhibit" that includes works like a chapel, cut from cardboard, surrounded by trees and hedges spun from yarn, with Popsicle stick church pews and crosses. There are many images of bright birds, cooing in trees; and a looming volcano, smoking over a bright, cheery town.

It has not been uplifting for Americans to look across the ocean the past few years and see Great Britain's Brexit imbroglio.

Almost three years ago, a slim majority, 51.9 percent, voted in a referendum to leave the European Union. But breaking up is hard to do.

Three times, Prime Minister Theresa May has proposed an exit plan. Parliament has rejected it each time. The March 29 deadline to depart has come and gone; Parliament has asked the EU for delay after delay.

In season six of HBO's Veep, Selina Meyer, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, made some pretty dramatic decisions — she chooses to run for president to get a second shot at working in the Oval Office.

In the process, she walks away from a chance at true love due to her belief that her relationship with Qatari ambassador Mohammed Al Jaffar, a Muslim man, could harm her campaign.

Fresh waves of grief have hit the communities of Parkland, Fla., and Newtown, Conn., after recent news of more deaths.

On Monday, the father of a girl who was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting died by apparent suicide, and last week, two students who survived the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting took their own lives.

Christine Goerke is focused on endurance. The dramatic soprano is tackling one of the most challenging roles in opera: singing Brünnhilde, the Valkyrie maiden warrior, in Richard Wagner's epic, Der Ring des Nibelungen, at New York's Metropolitan Opera. Otherwise known as the Ring cycle, the 16-hour saga spans four operas and tells the story of gods, monsters, humans and an insatiable urge to own an all-powerful golden ring.

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