Arts

Arts and culture

There are certain authors I read no matter what they write. Ian McEwan is one of them. Over the course of more than 40 years and some dozen and a half books — including Amsterdam, Atonement, and The Children Act — his generally realist, propulsive work reveals an abiding preoccupation with both the repercussions of deceit and how life can change in an instant.

We're recapping the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones; look for these recaps first thing on Monday mornings. Spoilers, of course, abound.

Here it is, folks, the Great Inward Breath.

Last week's season premiere was all about setting the table — reunions, recriminations and churning out great big meaty chunks of plot to get everyone up to speed. Now that the table's set, the series decided to take a step back to admire its handiwork — how well they lit the candles and folded the napkins into the shapes of swans or what have you.

Stories of first-generation Americans tend to stress the same struggles. How do you fit in with your peers when your parents aren't assimilating? How do you balance your instinct to rebel against your parents with your awareness of what they sacrificed to get here?

Journalist, novelist and polemicist Rose Wilder Lane may be the most controversial woman nobody's ever heard of. Today she's known primarily for her turbulent collaboration with her famous mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder, on the Little House on the Prairie books. But Lane's story doesn't end there — far from it. A fire-breathing libertarian, she denounced Social Security as a "Ponzi scheme" and grew her own food to protest World War II rationing.

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

HBO's new period drama, Gentleman Jack, is set in the 1830s and tells the extraordinary story of Anne Lister: landowner, businesswoman, mountaineer, and sometimes called "the first modern lesbian." Lister came from a wealthy family in Halifax, England, and began recording her love affairs with women in coded entries in her diary. Eventually she would live openly with her neighbor Ann Walker as a couple. Those explicit diaries remained a secret until the 1980s — and in 2011 they were named by UNESCO as a pivotal document in British history.

Small towns filled with secrets and an unlikely detective duo go together like an Aperol spritz before pasta – which is to say, very well. The small town in Illaria Tuti's Flowers Over the Inferno, translated by Ekin Oklap, is located in the northern Italian mountains and the duo in question are two cops sent to solve a startling, eye-gouging murder (I'm being literal here). How well these two investigators pair up is a matter of debate, though.

Since its founding, America has been fertile ground for conspiracy beliefs. While every generation produces rumor-mongers, today we anoint them with special powers through social media.

Anna Merlan, a journalist at Gizmodo Media Group, explores our contemporary fixation with conspiracy theories of all political stripes in Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power. Throughout the book, she reports from gatherings of people whose beliefs are both extreme and false.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The Helvetica typeface is widely used around the world. Don't tell us you haven't noticed. But Helvetica is being refreshed after 36 years - even a new name, Helvetica Now. But like many changes, some people are skeptical.

Merce Cunningham in 1988.
AP

The choreographer Merce Cunningham would have turned 100 years old this week.

Duanwad Pimwana is one of Thailand's preeminent female writers. She's beloved for her writing across forms, but especially acclaimed for her short fiction, translated for the first time in the excellent 13-story sampler Arid Dreams. Pimwana's translator, Mui Poopoksakul, does a beautiful job with prose and selection alike, offering stories from the first two decades of Pimwana's literary career.

Moms perform heroic tasks every day, but they rarely get portrayed as superheroes. That changes in the new film Fast Color, which tells the story of three generations of black women — a daughter, a mother and a granddaughter — all of whom have supernatural powers.

Does reality need realism?

If that seems like a weird question to you, consider the fact that it's the one most pressing for physicists and for their most successful theory about the physical world. That theory is called quantum mechanics — and every digital electronic device you've ever used owes its existence to the understanding of atomic-scale physics that comes with it.

But for all its success, quantum mechanics has one tiny problem: No one understands it.

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies in for Terry Gross, who's off this week. The Pulitzer Prize for History was awarded this week to historian David Blight for his book about 19th century abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Frederick Douglass is probably best known for his compelling autobiographies in which he described his experiences as a slave and his escape to freedom.

One crazy night.

It's the foundation of movies both silly and not so silly, including After Hours, Superbad, American Graffiti, Adventures in Babysitting, Go, Can't Hardly Wait ... there are a lot to choose from. A new one coming to Netflix this week that's of the "female friendship forever" variety is Someone Great. Written and directed by Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, it's a comedy about three New York women who just want — of course — to get into one big event and to get a little crazy.

Retta: Tweet Yo' Self

Apr 19, 2019

A quick Instagram search for the hashtag #TreatYoSelf yields more than 4.7 million photos of desserts, spa treatments and shopping sprees. This indulgent catchphrase was made popular eight years ago by the character Donna Meagle, on the NBC comedy Parks and Recreation — played by the mononymous actor, Retta. But long before she became synonymous with "Treat Yo' Self," Retta was living a very different lifestyle.

Sometimes history offers a marker of how far we've come. Sometimes, there's He-Man.

America's most macabre poet is tormented by his muse — literally — in this young adult imagining of Edgar Allan Poe's teenage years.

In her latest film, Elisabeth Moss felt that the only mistake she could make "was not going far enough."

Written and directed by Alex Ross Perry, Her Smell imagines the chaotic personal life of a musician addicted to drugs. Becky Something is the head of a fictitious all-female rock group from the '90s.

"Becky Something is enigmatic, funny and entertaining," Moss explains. But she's also toxic. "[She] will envelop you in her vortex, and then, when she's done with you, spit you out or destroy you."


When they write the bible on the great trolls of history, the Satanic Temple should be on the cover. Founded in 2013 as a poke in the eye of religious conservatism, the organization has since transitioned into a fully sincere spiritual movement itself, one advocating principles of nonviolence, religious pluralism, scientific inquiry, individual liberty and Dungeons & Dragons garb.

The opioid crisis looms large over Little Woods, a modest but intensely empathetic first film by writer–director Nia DaCosta. But you won't see lurid footage of bewildered tots hovering near the prone bodies of parents immobilized by Oxycontin. Instead, the movie draws its drama from the underground economy in which the prescription drug crisis thrives, and the perpetual state of emergency lived by residents of former boomtowns faded into ghost towns by recession or corporate flight.

The first time I saw David Lynch's Mulholland Drive, I was, like so many others, bewildered. It was a movie that only made sense on a macro level, zoomed out, like an impressionist painting. I went home and found a bonanza of websites trying to decipher the movie's puzzling structure and meaning. I could see how someone would spend hours, days, years trying to parse every scene for clues, an endless quest with nearly no purpose and an even smaller chance of success.

Somewhere between Olympus and humanity there's tragedy.

It endures because it depicts mortals divided against themselves and others while fate looms, inexorable. We're drawn to the boldness of tragic figures, in all their human frailty, as they face down the infinite. They can't look away and, out in the dark, in the audience, neither can we. When it's human will against fate, we know which way it always breaks, though we can't help but admire the resolve.

Vocalist Angélique Kidjo is on another creative streak. As she has throughout her career, Kidjo has left little space between two musically rich releases that showcase her artistic bonafides. 2018's Remain In Light was a track by track re-imagining of the Talking Heads 1980 album of the same name.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies in for Terry Gross, who's off this week. Spring's here, and baseball's back. It's a comforting tradition for a lot of us, but big-league baseball evolves over time. And our guest, New York Times national baseball writer Tyler Kepner, keeps track of that. He notes, for example, that for the first time ever last year there were more strikeouts than hits in the majors, which he thinks is connected to the widely shared complaint that the game moves too slowly and takes too long.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. The heroine of Nell Freudenberger's new novel "Lost And Wanted" is a physicist who finds her rational understanding of the universe challenged by the death of a friend. Here's our book critic Maureen Corrigan's review.

Welcome to Delmarva Public Radio’s celebration of National Poetry Month featuring “Literary Biographies with Sue Ellen Thompson.” I’m your host Harold Wilson.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

For the writer Yanyi, poetry is everywhere.

YANYI: I've written poetry accidentally while texting my friends, while getting really excited about something. And, you know, you end up going on a rant, or you end up writing a poem.

Updated April 18 at 10:35 a.m. ET

The Writers Guild of America is suing four of Hollywood's biggest talent agencies in a fight over writers' wages — and whether agents are keeping too much of the pie for themselves.

The guild, along with eight writers including The Wire creator David Simon, filed the complaint in California superior court. They are suing William Morris Endeavor, Creative Artists Agency, United Talent Agency and ICM Partners.

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