Originally published on Thu February 14, 2013 2:42 pm
The Dead Sea Scrolls are the ancient manuscripts dating back to the time of Jesus that were found between 1947 and 1956 in caves by the Dead Sea. Since they were first discovered, they have been a source of fascination and debate over what they can teach — and have taught — about Judeo-Christian history. In his new book, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Biography, Yale professor John J. Collins tells the story of the scrolls, their discovery and the controversies surrounding the scholarship of them.
"Girdles and red nail polish and intestinal cleansing and bar fights and sewer pipes and wiretaps and eternal life and decay all around. It was insanity. It was outrageous. It was a reporter's wet dream. Where the hell was I?
"I paid the bill and left.
"The sign outside said DETROIT CITY LIMITS."
The corrupt, crime-addled Detroit of Charlie LeDuff's new memoir, Detroit: An American Autopsy, isn't the same city that I left a month ago.
Originally published on Wed February 13, 2013 1:50 pm
Porridge doesn't get a lot of love and respect. It's the fairy tale stuff of Goldilocks, or the pauper gruel of Oliver Twist. But really, porridge can be a beautiful thing, especially during the cold slog of winter. It's a comforting way to start the morning, a nice warm hug of a breakfast. And, dare I say, it actually can be kind of exciting.
James Lasdun was born in London and now lives in upstate New York. He has published two novels, as well as several collections of short stories and poetry, and was the winner of the inaugural U.K./BBC Short Story Prize.
Over the past week or so, I've mentioned James Lasdun's new book, Give Me Everything You Have to a bunch of colleagues; they've all heard about it already and they're all dying to read it. What Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother was to parenting a couple of years ago, Lasdun's Give Me Everything You Have may well be to teaching: a controversial personal reflection on the professor-student relationship — except Lasdun, unlike Chua, really has no advice to offer; no certitude, nor help for pain.
Originally published on Tue February 12, 2013 12:25 pm
As reported on Tuesday's Morning Edition, KRTV in Great Falls, Mont., was apparently the victim of hackers who broke in and broadcast a warning of attacking zombies. The station now says that it was a hoax, fortunately.
There's a popular misconception that literary fiction is supposed to be staid, boring, realistic to a fault. Like all stereotypes, it's deeply unfair, but it endures, perhaps because readers keep having traumatic flashbacks to novels, like Sister Carrie, that they were forced to read in high school.
Domenica Ruta's memoir, With or Without You, chronicles her youth in a working-class Massachusetts town, the daughter of a wildly flamboyant mother who drove a beat-up lime green hatchback, and held impromptu storm-watching parties on the porch.
If you can't find pennette, use the small bulging crescents that are chifferi, or regular elbow macaroni, instead.
Credit / Courtesy Random House
Instead of going to the butcher and asking for a huge hunk of steak cut specially, you can make one supermarket strip steak (it still should be good meat, or don't bother) stretch to feed two of you with no suggestion of scrimping.
Credit Courtesy Random House
Serve this handmade coffee ice cream with a chocolate sauce, or squidge it into little brioches, like sweet burger buns, as they do in the south of Italy.
Credit Courtesy Random House
Don't be tempted to let the cheesecake come to room temperature before serving. It slices and eats better with a bit of refrigerator chill on it.
Before the roses and the romance, Valentine's Day commemorated the Roman Saint Valentine — Valentinus, in Latin. And in her new cookbook, Nigellissima: Easy Italian-Inspired Recipes, chef Nigella Lawson offers up simple recipes that celebrate the cuisine of the country Saint Valentine called home.
Lawson joins NPR's Renee Montagne to share some recipes for a romantic dinner for two, and describes the time she spent in Italy.
For some, Detroit may be a symbol of urban decay; but to Charlie LeDuff, it's home. LeDuff, a veteran print and TV journalist who spent 12 years at TheNew York Times, where he shared a Pulitzer Prize in 2001, returned home to the city after the birth of his daughter left him and his wife — also a Detroit native — wanting to be closer to family.
Valentine's Day is a great time for love and romance. But it can also bring up complicated questions about relationships. If you've been texting incessantly, when is the right time for an actual date? And is there such a thing as being too romantic? Host Michel Martin talks to etiquette experts about romance dilemmas.
Craig Morgan Teicher's latest collection of poetry is called To Keep Love Blurry.
Fifty years ago today, Sylvia Plath ended her life as a major poet and an artist of the highest order. But one could hardly have predicted, from her taut yet unfocused first book, The Colossus, her only book of poetry published in her lifetime, that she would, or even could, become the poet we know, revere — and maybe even fear — as Sylvia Plath.
When the Oscars are handed out later this month, the ceremony will most likely be punctuated by music that has pretty much come to stand for movies and Movieland. Ironically, the composer grew up in Detroit, and the lyricist came from Savannah, Ga. — yet together they wrote the quintessential Tinseltown anthem.
"Hooray for Hollywood" was written for the Warner Brothers film Hollywood Hotel. It was a corny little "let's-go-to-Hollywood-and become-stars" movie from 1937, with some cute dialogue.
You have until 11:59 p.m. ET Sunday to send in your original short fiction. The challenge this round is to write a story in the form of a voice mail message. Submit your story here: https://npr3mf.submittable.com/submit
Flotsam and Jetsam: of such things are stories made. Writers use objects to give their stories weight, attachment and verisimilitude, like Gary Paulsen's The Hatchet; Jean Shepherd's Red Ryder BB Gun inspired A Christmas Story; and how about Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon?
Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 6:16 am
Ann Leary's latest book is The Good House.
I tend to read funny books when I'm happy and tragic books when I'm sad, but when I'm truly depressed, when I want to be fully immersed in the horrible splendor of the most desperate human suffering, I always return to Brian Moore's The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne.
On a Virginia plantation in 1852, a young house slave tends to her ailing mistress, creates exquisite paintings and plans her escape. In 2004 New York, an ambitious young lawyer works night and day on the biggest case of her promising career.
Tara Conklin's debut novel, The House Girl, intertwines these women's narratives in a story of art and injustice.
On-air challenge: Every answer is a three-letter word that ends a familiar two-word phrase. You will be given the first word of the phrase. You provide the three-letter word that ends it. And the three letters in your answer will always be found, in some order, inside the first word. For example, given "Arctic," you would say "Air."
In Teddy Wayne's new novel, YouTube sensation Jonny Valentine has the sugar-sweet pipes of a teen heartthrob. But he also has a controlling manager-mom, a missing father, a retinue of people who work for him and a record label that's leaning on him to move the merchandise — fast.
A reminder that our Three-Minute Fiction writing contest ends tomorrow night at 11:59PM EST. The challenge this time around, chosen by novelist and judge Mona Simpson, is to write a story in the form of a voicemail message.
Two feet of snow can be a major inconvenience. We feel for you, friends in the Northeast. To help you work through that serious snow surplus, we shuffled through our virtual recipe box for snow cuisine.
It's like being given lemons and making lemonade, though you definitely don't want to be doing anything with lemon-colored snow you find outside.