Originally published on Wed August 29, 2012 7:03 am
By Parul Sehgal
Credit Christopher Furlong / Getty Images
Too much is made of literature's ennobling qualities. There are those of us who come to books for the debasement and danger, for Hannibal and Humbert. For Faulkner's Popeye and Hedda Gabler. We want to meet the monsters.
Some people suffer from recurring nightmares about being naked on stage, or not having revised for their exams. My bedtime terror is different — I'm gripped with fear that I haven't fed or watered my childhood budgie, with potentially devastating consequences. I loved that bird, Joey, so much, despite the fact that she unmasked herself as female after I'd named her, I still have a tiny box filled with her discarded green feathers. I've never owned a pet as an adult. I prefer animals in novels to avoid the horror of finding two cold, clutched feet in the air.
Writers Talk, produced by the Ohio State University’s Center for the Study and Teaching of Writing, interviews a wide variety of authors, focusing on how they produce text and communicate in a variety of genres. Its purpose is to demystify and promote writing, especially for academic writers.
Paul Auster doesn't take living for granted. At 65, the author has had several "near misses," from sliding face-first into a jutting nail as a child to a traumatic car accident that almost killed him, his wife and his daughter.
Auster's new memoir, Winter Journal, is a series of meditations on his life, aging and mortality — including his mother's death.
In 1964, students at the University of California, Berkeley, formed a protest movement to repeal a campus rule banning students from engaging in political activities.
Then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover suspected the free speech movement to be evidence of a Communist plot to disrupt U.S. campuses. He "had long been concerned about alleged subversion within the education field," journalist Seth Rosenfeld tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.
Most people know Molly Ringwald from her star turns in John Hughes' signature teen comic dramas from the 1980s, including Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink.
And Ringwald is still acting — she currently plays the mother in the ABC Family series The Secret Life of the American Teenager. But she's also turned her hand to writing. Her new book — and first novel — is called When It Happens to You.
Hope Solo is generally regarded as the best women's goalkeeper in the world. Fresh off winning her third-straight Olympic gold medal with the U.S. national team, Solo has been as busy off the field as on it, releasing an autobiography titled Solo: A Memoir of Hope.
The memoir details her rise as an international celebrity, but it also focuses on the complicated relationship she had with her father, who taught her to play soccer.
Eric Nuzum barely survived his teen years. The period was scarred by depression, drugs and a brief period of institutionalization.
"I felt, my entire teen years, as many people do to some degree, as kind of an outsider, an outcast," he tells NPR's John Donvan. "I often describe myself as feeling like I was an interloper in my own life ... never feeling much of a sense of connection."
Romance fiction is the Rodney Dangerfield of the publishing world: It don't get no respect.
This, despite the fact that romance is the most consistently profitable genre in an unsettlingly shaky business. Last year, romance alone contributed more than $1 billion to publishing's diminished coffers. And a growing amount of that income comes from romances written by ethnic writers for ethnic readers.
When Peter Heller sat down to work on his first novel, all he knew was that he wanted to have the experience of writing without knowing the ending. As an expedition kayaker, Heller was already the author of many works of travel and outdoor-adventure writing. With his debut novel, The Dog Stars, Heller returned to fiction — his first love. But as the novel took a post-apocalyptic turn, he found himself relying on his real-life scrapes and survival skills.