Stephen Marche's latest book is How Shakespeare Changed Everything.
Just as the fanciest chefs will happily eat simple cheese and toast so long as it's prepared properly, literary writers will happily read genre fiction, as long as it's prepared properly. And the best preparer of hard-boiled crime fiction, or at least my favorite, was Jim Thompson. Though he was the pulpiest of pulp writers, he was also the densest and most intense and most complicated. His cheese on toast is like melted Gruyere over crusty fresh baguette.
And let's go next to West Africa, where logging rights to more than 60 percent of Liberia's virgin rainforests have been granted to forestry companies since President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf came to power six years ago. A British advocacy group says the majority of those contracts are unregulated and warns of fraud and mismanagement. The government of Liberia says it is commissioning a full-scale investigation.
People aren't getting much work done in parts of Europe, treading water there. Greek workers called a nationwide strike for today, protesting austerity measures. Last night, there were violent protests in Spain. Demonstrators launched a new movement dubbed Occupy Congress, surrounding the Spanish Parliament with a human chain before clashing with police.
China has just joined an exclusive, global club. They have launched their first aircraft carrier. The Liaoning is a Soviet ship that the Russian navy never actually put into service. To talk with us about the significance of this ship, we're joined from London by naval historian and defense analyst, Paul Beaver.
Can tigers and tourists coexist? The debate is rumbling through India, where the Supreme Court has temporarily banned tourism in core areas of the country's 41 tiger reserves. The unexpected and controversial ruling is aimed at protecting the last of India's 1,700 tigers.
Up until the late 1960s, big game hunters trod the forests of Rajasthan's Ranthambore National Park, part of a sprawling tiger reserve southwest of Delhi. Under the court's recent ban, spotting one of India's big cats — a tiger or the more elusive leopard — inside the park is forbidden.
NPR's business news business with some bad news for automakers.
Ford is cutting jobs in Europe. Sales in the European Union are down 12 percent this year; that's what a financial crisis will do for you. Bloomberg reports a few hundred workers, mostly in Germany and the United Kingdom, will be getting the axe. And the pioneering electric car maker Tesla Motors has announced that it is selling five million shares to raise much needed cash.
After fighting for power for nearly 50 years, a Colombian rebel group is now opting to negotiate a peace deal with President Juan Manuel Santos' government and bring the country's slow-burning but brutal conflict to an end.
Most of Colombia's 47 million people are supportive of talks, which begin soon in Oslo, Norway, before moving to Havana.
The streaming music service Spotify has garnered some 2 million users in the U.S. since its introduction a little over a year ago. The service includes many big acts like Katy Perry, but many musicians have mixed feelings about it. Some, like Adele and Coldplay, resisted putting new albums on Spotify, citing the service's low royalty payments to musicians. Others, like the Black Keys, won't allow full albums on the service at all.
We're all familiar with the many sports terms that have moved into general usage: "par for the course," "slam-dunk," "curveball," "photo finish" and so on.
Curiously, though, every now and then something of the inverse occurs, and we get an expression which is commonly used that has been derived from sport, but never used in sport.
For example, that awful, overdone cliche, "level playing field." Never in my life have I ever heard anyone in sport — that is, somebody actually right there on the level playing field — say, "I'm glad we're playing on a level playing field."
Originally published on Wed September 26, 2012 6:47 am
The U.S. Supreme Court will not halt the execution of Texas death row inmate Cleve Foster, as it did three times in 2011. Foster, 48, has maintained he is innocent in the 2002 shooting death of Nyaneur Pal, 30.
"I didn't do it," Foster told the AP recently from death row. "And if it means I'm going to the gurney and the taking of my life, so be it."
Few places are more exotic in the imagination than Papua New Guinea. The romantic images it conjures up are the stuff of a National Geographic cover story, complete with deadly animals and, of course, cannibals.
But once I stepped off the plane, I entered a land that was wrestling with its past and its present.
The Sepik River basin, deep in the heart of the country, is a popular tourist destination. It's the perfect place for a jungle river tour, with dense greenery, massive birds and stops at tribal villages.
There's a new mystery on Broadway — one about the musical Rebecca, based on the Daphne du Maurier novel.
You can't see it yet on the New York stage. In fact, it hasn't even started rehearsals. That's because the production is short $4.5 million after one of its investors died before he could hand over the money.
Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 5:43 pm
Coming this October, NPR and The Wilson Center will again join forces to present the next three installments of The National Conversation. These lunchtime discussions are a forum for informed discussions led by top research and policy leaders.
Originally published on Wed September 26, 2012 6:42 pm
If you've been watching the HBO series Treme with us, welcome back.
If you're new here, welcome in the first place. WBGO's Josh Jackson, a New Orleans native, and I have been watching the music-saturated program set in post-Katrina New Orleans for two years now. After every episode, we try to establish some context for the many musical references and live performances the show features.
Cooks and servers, scientists and sales reps — those are some of the workers who say they do better after drinking coffee, according to a new study. Nurses, journalists, teachers, and business executives also said they're more effective at work if they have coffee, in a survey commissioned by Dunkin Donuts and CareerBuilder.