Arts & Culture

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Here's the thing I love about Cory Doctorow: No one is weirder than he is.

And I don't mean run-of-the-mill weird. I don't mean personally weird (though he might be, I don't know him), but as a writer? Super-weird in the best possible way. And he's deep-weird, not gimmicky-weird. Weird in the sense that he has done the math, calculated the forking paths, and is presenting to you a world which isn't just amusing and borderline plausible, but a dispatch from next Tuesday.

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Pope Francis arrives in Cairo tomorrow. It's a trip to show solidarity with Egypt's millions of Coptic Christians. Two of their churches were attacked weeks ago, attacks claimed by ISIS. The pope is also reaching out to Muslims, as NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports.

From the front door of the glass-walled gift shop at the Alnwick Garden in the far northeast of England, the scene looks innocent enough. A sapphire green English lawn slopes gently downward, toward traditional, ornamental gardens of rose and bamboo. Across the small valley, water cascades down a terraced fountain.

But a hundred or so plantings kept behind bars in this castle's garden are more menacing — and have much to tell visitors about poison and the evolutionary roots of medicine.

Late April is a little late for New Year's resolutions — and we've blown right past Lent — but there's never a wrong time to seek out new ways to improve your life and approach to the world.

Multi-instrumentalist, composer, spiritual leader and the wife of John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda (1937-2007) long stood in her husband's shadow. Some certain number of more casual jazz fans, if they have known her name at all, only know it from sidewoman credits on some of his albums, and not for her own performances and recordings.

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Will Oldham has broadcast his love of Merle Haggard's music since the beginning of his career: He's sung the man's praises in interviews, performed his songs in concert, and he even interviewed him for a print magazine a few years back. Clearly, something about Haggard — the rugged plain-spokenness, the gift for efficiently distilling ideas to their essence, his prolificacy and contrarian streak and all-around iconoclasm — got its hooks in Oldham early.

It's easy to approach Versus — a long-gestating collaboration between Detroit's electronic-music deity Carl Craig, the Paris-based Les Siècles Orchestra (under the direction of François-Xavier Roth) and techno-loving classical pianist Francesco Tristano — as the latest attempt to bring club music to the rarefied atmosphere of a concert hall.

How long has it been since you heard something that was unmistakably the blues, and at the same time undeniably new?

The blues is eternal. Though it undergoes modernization every now and then – see the work of Gary Clark Jr., or The Rolling Stones as recently as last year on the torrid Blue and Lonesome – the genre's basic structural outlines and conventions are well set. As music styles go, it's an established "brand," with a distinct sound. We know it instantly.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Spring Sounds

Apr 26, 2017

The new spring shoots of music from Celtic roots are ready for broadcast. Hear new songs from Eamon Friel, Molly's Revenge, Runa and more.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood is one of a handful of dystopian novels that have seen a boost in sales since the 2016 election. The book tells the story of what happens when a theocratic dictatorship takes over the government and gets rid of women's rights.

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Jonathan Demme may be best remembered for directing The Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, but in the following breath Stop Making Sense will no doubt follow.

The concert film, which documents the surrealistic live show of Talking Heads in the band's prime, became one of the most celebrated documents of live music we have; frontman David Byrne's oversized cream suit, the beautiful choreography, its whimsy and touching humanity.

Aimee Mann On World Cafe

Apr 26, 2017

Aimee Mann joins World Cafe for an interview and to perform songs from her new album, Mental Illness, her first solo record since she took time to collaborate with indie rocker Ted

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