Writers & Writing

Author interviews, poetry and storytelling.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

I bought Austenland on DVD last fall. It's one of my happy place movies. Unsurprisingly, I've watched it several times already this year, this tumultuous year in which so much is going on that I was on Chapter Three of Kind of a Big Deal before I thought to myself, "This story feels like Austenland." I flipped to the acknowledgments and spotted screenwriter and director Jerusha Hess's name. Well DUH, Alethea. At which point, I just relaxed and let Shannon Hale take me away to that safe, happy place again.

With many of us confined to our homes during the coronavirus pandemic, we're spending a lot more time with our stuff these days — the piles of clothes that no longer fit, the ever-stubborn junk drawer or maybe it's those sentimental boxes of family heirlooms. You might be thinking about getting rid of some of that clutter, but you aren't exactly sure where to start.

Julie Hall, an estate appraiser and liquidator, has been confronting this problem for nearly three decades. But she's seeing the decluttering trend pop up a lot more in recent months.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

There's a spooky warmth to Elatsoe, Darcie Little Badger's debut novel. Set in a version of our contemporary world where everyone knows ghosts, fairies, and vampires are real, Elatsoe, like its namesake protagonist, walks a zig-zagging line between humor and horror, braiding them into each other. Dead dogs make cheerful ghost companions while widows mourn young husbands; vampires propose marriage to fairy princesses while miracle-working doctors keep sinister secrets.

Peter Strzok omits a few important things from his new memoir, Compromised: Counterintelligence and the Threat of Donald J. Trump.

Strzok, one of the most notorious FBI officials in history, wants to rehabilitate himself. But he leaves out parts of the story about which most readers probably are most curious — including his relationship with former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

Strzok and Page carried on an extramarital affair even as they worked at the core of some of the FBI's biggest cases.

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Finding Another Way

After nine years and the birth of their son, Ebony Roberts and Shaka Senghor ultimately separated. But they made a vow: despite the conflict that led to their split, they'd still co-parent as a team.

About Ebony Roberts

Yadriel is a lot of things: He's queer, he's trans, he's Latinx and he's a brujo, born to free the souls of the dead so they can pass over — or he would be if only his family could accept him as he is. They carry on the ancient traditions of guiding the dead and healing the living, but only men can free spirits. And they don't believe Yadriel's truly a man.

When the National Rifle Association opened its annual convention in Dallas in 2018, only a few months had passed since the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Seventeen students and teachers were dead and more than a dozen others grievously wounded.

I had been in Parkland for NPR talking with shattered young survivors who were organizing, hoping finally to shift America's debate over guns and gun violence. But when I went to Dallas, it seemed nothing had changed.

Claudia Rankine's award-winning poetry collection Citizen came out in 2014 — the year of the protests in Ferguson, Mo., over the death of Michael Brown.

Her latest book arrives as the same problems afflict the United States. It's called Just Us: An American Conversation, and it's a collection of essays, photos, poems and, yes, conversations, that she has been having with friends and strangers alike about race.

A few years ago, I couldn't stop thinking about Eula Biss's New York Times Magazine essay "White Debt." The essay is, in a sense, about literal debt—Biss had recently bought a house with a mortgage—but she immediately takes us beyond the prosaic meaning of the word.

The photo on the book jacket of Sarah Huckabee Sanders smiling up at President Trump as they walk along the White House Rose Garden reveals a lot about the story inside.

For more than two years, Sanders was a key part of Trump's inner circle, reaching a level of trust and access few have in this unconventional administration.

"I didn't just love my job, I loved the president and most of the people I worked with," she writes.

Do you love a great story?

Try Daniel Nayeri's new autobiographical novel, his first, Everything Sad is Untrue (A True Story), which begins with these memorable words: "All Persians are liars and lying is a sin."

That's what the kids in Mrs. Miller's class think, but I'm the only Persian they've ever met, so I don't know where they got that idea.

My mom says it's true, but only because everyone has sinned and needs God to save them. My dad says it isn't. Persians aren't liars. They're poets, which is worse.

Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt says one of the most unusual aspects of the White House administration is the existence of people who are trying to stop President Trump from acting in a way that could hurt the country or break the law.

The title of Emma Cline's first collection of short stories and sophomore book, Daddy, tells us more about what the work lacks than what it contains. The fathers in Cline's stories perform their familial duties with little sincerity or gusto.

The Lying Life of Adults, a new novel by the pseudonymous Italian author Elena Ferrante, is slinky and scowling as a Neapolitan cat. As promised, its subject is the part of life that adults lie about — sex, yes, but more precisely the chaos, infidelity and fear that hang on sex, freighting it with meaning and danger.

For the novel's protagonist, Giovanna, her lying life begins the moment she overhears her father — cheerful, courteous, beloved — calling her ugly. Her sense of self is overthrown:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

In March 2015, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called a meeting of the kingdom's top military generals at the Saudi Defense Ministry. The rotund, 29-year-old prince had just been named the new defense minister by his father, King Salman, despite having no prior military training.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Many of us can often feel like we're suffering through the COVID-19 pandemic all alone, but a new anthology of essays, poems and images is a reminder that the virus has touched nearly every country.

This story has been set to unpublished due to the NPR API updating this story earlier and now the NPR API is unavailable. If the NPR API has deleted or changed the access level of this story it will be deleted when the API becomes available. If the API has updated this story, the updated version will be made available when the NRP API becomes reachable again. There is no action required on your part. For more information contact Digital Services Client Support

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of science fiction writer Ray Bradbury. Oh, I remember reading "The Illustrated Man" when I was a kid in school. NPR's Petra Mayer reports on his legacy.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, HOST:

I was one of those introvert kids with an empathy for inanimate objects that went well beyond stuffed animals. Looking back, it makes sense — I was obsessed with fairy tales and poetry. The worlds of Grimm and Andersen and Carroll were filled with just as many talking sticks, stones, teapots and washtubs as animals and people. Plus, being Greek meant that anyone or anything one encounters might be cursed, arbitrarily, at any time. When it comes right down to it, if it exists in my world, it has an attitude.

Pages