Arts & Culture

Arts & culture

In 'The Pictures,' The Story Slips Out Of Focus

Sep 15, 2017

Bethanne Patrick is a freelance writer and critic who tweets @TheBookMaven.

American authors Martha Grimes and Elizabeth George have made careers penning mysteries set across the pond; now English writer Guy Bolton is attempting to build a career of his own with a series set in Hollywood's golden age. The Pictures, his first novel featuring LAPD detective Jonathan Craine, takes place in 1939 — just as MGM is getting ready to release The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

David Simon and George Pelecanos made The Wire and Treme together, among other shows, and now they've teamed up to create The Deuce, a new HBO drama about prostitution and the rise of the porn industry in New York's Times Square. Set in 1971, when prostitution took place out in the open on Times Square's grubby streets, the show stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Franco (as twins!) and a huge cast of character actors who help form an ambitious web of stories. It's a lot to take in, and the first eight-episode season — which premiered Sept.

Don't read this.

I'm serious.

Shh. Listen! Hear that faint scampering sound outside your window? The pitter-patter of tiny paws and huge, undiscerning appetites? The screech of a potential disease-carrier? Do you live in a city? It's probably a rat. But try to resist the urge to freak out, fellow citizen — at least until you watch the superb new documentary Rat Film, and can determine for yourself who between us is the true parasite of society.

It's an oft-told tale, in Hollywood: A good man wracked by his envy of others he deems more successful than he at scoring the usual American-Dream jackpots of money, status, and fame. He eats himself alive over this at self-defeating length that's both funny and sad. At the climax other, mostly female, not-rich salts of the earth swoop in to persuade him that, OMG, it's a wonderful life just as it is.

Not a single person says "shhh!" during Frederick Wiseman's three-hour-plus tour of New York libraries. In fact, Ex Libris: New York Public Library immediately introduces garrulous author, scientist, and atheist Richard Dawkins, and there are a half-dozen other talky authors waiting in the wings. In this documentary, chatter among the stacks is encouraged.

On the coattails of releasing his new album Bone on Bone, the Canadian troubadour Bruce Cockburn joins World Cafe for a performance and interview.

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People who write jokes on a freelance basis are losing a precious customer - "Saturday Night Live's" "Weekend Update." Here's NPR's Elizabeth Blair.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: Late-night comedy shows burn through a lot of material.

Ken Burns became a star on PBS a generation ago by telling the story of the Civil War in a huge — and hugely popular — documentary series. Since then, he and his collaborators have done invaluable work, including a lengthy and superb examination of World War II.

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Chef Douglas McMaster's flagship restaurant, Silo, takes that "industrial chic" aesthetic that dominates the modern dining scene to a whole new level. Located an hour south of London, in Brighton, England, the restaurant inhabits a 180-year-old building that has been styled into something like a barn — or a grain silo. Let's call it preindustrial chic.

Amal El-Mohtar is the Hugo Award-winning author of The Honey Month and the editor of Goblin Fruit, an online poetry magazine.

Elementary school student Holly Hook takes a deep breath, crinkles her nose and pops a cricket into her mouth. Chewing thoughtfully, she looks up and smiles: "It's good!"

"Humans cannot live without stories," writes Stephen Greenblatt in his new book, The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve. "We surround ourselves with them; we make them up in our sleep; we tell them to our children; we pay to have them told to us." There's a reason storytelling has endured as a medium — the best stories are never just that; they connect us to something deeper, they explain our most deeply held beliefs. As Joan Didion once wrote, "We tell ourselves stories in order to live."

Attica Locke's new novel Bluebird, Bluebird unfolds in rural East Texas along a stretch of U.S. highway 59. She describes it as "a thread on the map that ties together small towns like knots on a string."

During the Great Migration — the period during the 20th century when millions of African-Americans left the Southern U.S. — highway 59 was the road north: "That was the road to get out of Texas," Locke says.

The film First They Killed My Father begins in 1975 Cambodia, during the rise of the Khmer Rouge. The hard-line communist regime aimed to deport an entire nation into the countryside and form an agrarian utopia — but their experiment failed. People were forced to work, and they were also tortured, starved and executed. In the end, around a quarter of the country's population — roughly 2 million people — died.

In this session, you've got a front row seat at a Latin Roots concert by Colombian ensemble Tribu Baharú. Of course, you're not gonna need that seat — this isn't exactly a band that inspires sitting down.

Tribu Baharú plays its own version of champeta, a style that originated in African communities on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. It's high octane music in motion — you'll hear what I mean in the band's performance at Nuevofest this past July, which you can hear in the player above.

Activist, hero, rebel, icon; those are just of the few of the adjectives often used in front of Dolores Huerta's name. They are well-deserved — for her part as a co-founder of a '60s labor movement, standing up for the rights of farm workers in this country, Dolores Huerta was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in May of 2012.

In the age of SoundCloud rap, 19-year-old Demo Taped's rise from unknown Atlanta-bred music prodigy to 300 Entertainment signee isn't all that unusual. That he's ascended from hip-hop's bedrock city to the house that Lyor Cohen built while making something other than hip-hop? That's totally out of the ordinary.

On a clear day, Jocelyn Bentley-Prestwich can see Mount Adams from the vineyard where she works in Hood River, Ore. But lately, she's had difficulty seeing to the end of her property line.

With the Eagle Creek Fire burning along the Columbia River Gorge, Hood River has been cloaked in heavy smoke for more than a week. The fire now covers roughly 36,000 acres and has been burning since Sept. 2. Fire crews don't expect to be able to contain it until the end of the month.

The Man Booker Prize rolled out its 2017 shortlist on Wednesday, delivering a list of six nominees showcasing a hefty dose of literary heavyweights and a pair of newcomers. Of the six novels on the list, just one will go on to win this year's prestigious literary prize at gala ceremony next month in London.

'World Without Mind' Is An Urgent, Personal Polemic

Sep 13, 2017

Jason Heller is a Hugo Award-winning editor and author of the forthcoming book Strange Stars (Melville House). Twitter: @jason_m_heller

Nicole Krauss' fourth novel, a cerebral, dual-stranded tale of disillusionment and spiritual quest, proves heavy going for its characters — and its readers. Her two protagonists, a powerful, 68-year-old Manhattan attorney and philanthropist named Jules Epstein, and a celebrated novelist on the cusp of 40 named Nicole, have come to question the aridity of their lives. Both believe they'll find relief and transformation in Israel, a land of "never-ending argument" that also offers them abundant time and light in which to examine things more deeply.

Ever since the early days of Pop Culture Happy Hour, we've set aside the occasional block of time to champion a few of our favorite entertainers in a segment we call People We're Pulling For. We keep the criteria pretty loose: They can be little-known up-and-comers, major stars at a crossroads, or anything in between. The important thing is that we're rooting for them, and we think others ought to root for them, too.

The organic eggs in your grocery store are supposed to come from chickens that have year-round access to the outdoors. That's according to long-standing organic regulations.

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