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Arts

Arts and culture

You Can Never Have Too Many Blackberries

Jul 24, 2012

When I first moved to the Pacific Northwest, I was amazed at how many people had the same landscaping complaint. "I spent all weekend cutting down the blackberries," some co-worker would groan on Monday morning, looking for sympathy for the lost hours and aching back. However, as someone who didn't grow up in such Edenic surroundings, I was totally dumbfounded. Cutting back blackberries? Why would you cut back blackberries? Don't they, you know, give you blackberries?

Best YA Fiction Poll: You Asked, We Answer!

Jul 24, 2012

Our Best YA Fiction poll has only been live for a few hours, and already the cries of outrage are echoing through the intertubes! Where are A Wrinkle in Time, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Ender's Game? What about Watership Down? My Side of the Mountain? Where the Red Fern Grows? Most of Judy Blume's oeuvre? The Little House books?

We hear you, I promise.

There's a fine line between satire and the nasty snigger that marks so much of pop comedy these days — which is another way of saying that the corrosively funny takedown of child beauty pageants in the 2006 movie Little Miss Sunshine moved me to forgive (by a hair) its creepiest creation — Alan Arkin's heroin-addicted grandpa. Still, I wonder whether my 14-year-old, who has roared her way through that movie at least a dozen times, can tell the difference between sharp commentary and the juvie desire to shock.

The obvious way to approach South Korean director Seung-jun Yi's modest but potent documentary Planet of Snail is to think of it as a story about a disabled man making his way through the world with the help of his companion. But more simply and more accurately, it's really a movie about marriage — about the way two people can smooth over each other's cracks to achieve an imperfect yet sturdy wholeness.

The Colorful Days Of Life On The Border

Jul 24, 2012

Editor's note: This is another one of those stories that came to me fortuitously by email. Bruce Berman teaches photography in Las Cruces, N.M., and, like many photography instructors, he has a huge archive of his own. This is just a small selection of his color photographs documenting life in the border town of El Paso, Texas.

In The Twilight War, government historian David Crist outlines the secret history of America's 30-year conflict with Iran. The book, based on interviews with hundreds of officials as well as classified military archives, details how the covert war has spanned five American presidential terms and repeatedly threatened to bring the two nations into open warfare.

Crist tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that there have been several incidents that have almost resulted in battle over the past 30 years.

For bartenders, the words "last call" have a hidden meaning: It won't be long before they're enjoying a drink of their own. And after hours of making tonics, flips and fizzes, what does a bartender drink? Often, the answer is short and simple: Fernet.

In a world of citrusy, sugary drinks that can all taste alike, Fernet Branca stands alone. Depending on how your palate responds, the Italian digestif can be called everything from refreshingly bold to an acquired taste to cough syrup that's gone bad.

Experimental fiction in North America began with a genius of a doyen in Paris: Gertrude Stein, whose aesthetic assertion that writers shape and form and reform the medium of language the way sculptors work with stone, painters work with light and shape and composers work with sound, changed Hemingway forever and, thus, changed the nature of the American short story — or the American art story, at least.

Last month we asked you, our audience, to nominate titles for a top-100 list of the best young adult — YA — fiction ever written. Thousands of you sent in nominations. We've tabulated those suggestions and, with the help of an expert panel, narrowed the list to the 235 finalists you see below.

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