Literature

Literature

While these days it's not uncommon to meet children with gay parents, in the 1970s it was. Alysia Abbott was one of those kids. When her parents met, her father — Steve Abbott — told her mother he was bisexual. But when Alysia was a toddler, her mother died in a car accident and Steve came out as gay. He moved with his daughter to San Francisco, just as the gay liberation movement was gaining strength.

While her father had not initially wanted a child, Abbott says he enjoyed spending time with her when she was a baby. Her mother's death brought the two of them even closer.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

For 20 years, Stephen King has had an image stuck in his head: It's a boy in a wheelchair flying a kite on a beach. "It wanted to be a story, but it wasn't a story," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. But little by little, the story took shape around the image — and focused on an amusement park called "Joyland" located just a little farther down the beach.

Attributing human characteristics to animals makes for great cartoons, but it's not usually considered rigorous science. Now, a new book argues that animals do think and feel in ways similar to humans.

Barbara J. King is a professor of anthropology and a commentator on NPR's science blog, 13.7. And her book, How Animals Grieve, makes a powerful case for the presence of love, affection and grief in animals — from a house cat mourning her lost sister to elephants who pay respects to the bones of their matriarchs.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin explores a land that never was with Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden’s Joe Golem and the Drowning City.

Title: Joe Golem and the Drowning City

Author: Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden

Pages: 272

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

ISBN: 978-1250020826

And read Kristin’s full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

After years of trying to conceive, novelist Jennifer Gilmore and her husband decided to pursue a domestic open adoption. They were told they'd be matched within a year; it took four. And along the way they faced complicated decisions and heartbreak.

American Voices On 'The Unwinding' Of America's Values

May 21, 2013

Halfway through The Unwinding, George Packer — author of the highly praised The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq (2005)delineates how quickly political idealism can disappear when one becomes exposed to a world of easy money.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin investigates murder in the Everglades with Heather Graham’s Tall, Dark, and Deadly.

Title: Tall, Dark, and Deadly

Author: Heather Graham

Pages: 268

Publisher: Open Road

ISBN: 978-0451408471

And read Kristin’s full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

Robert Langdon is back. The Harvard art professor in custom tweeds — and an ever-present Mickey Mouse watch — wakes up in a hospital after getting grazed in the head by a bullet, wondering how he ended up in Florence. He's got a sinister artifact sewn into his coat and just a few hours to keep the world from a grim biological catastrophe.

When 20-year-old Amanda Knox left for Italy in August 2007, it was supposed to be a carefree year studying abroad.

No one could have foreseen it ending in her being accused, tried and convicted in the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher.

The case, and Knox, became an international media sensation.

"I think that there was a lot of fantasy projected onto me," she tells weekends on All Things Considered host Jacki Lyden. "And that resulted in a re-appropriation and re-characterization of who I am."

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

Book News: Amazon Debuts Its Virtual Currency

May 14, 2013

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

In 2011, Jessica Buchanan was an aid worker in northern Somalia, helping to raise awareness about how to avoid land mines. The north was the relatively safe section of the country; that October, she traveled to the more dangerous southern region for a training. The night before she left, she texted her husband, Erik Landemalm, also an aid worker in Somalia. She asked him a question: "If I get kidnapped on this trip, will you come and get me?"

In December 1944, the Nazis looked like a spent force: The U.S. and its allies had pushed Hitler's armies across France in the fight to liberate Europe from German occupation.

The Allies were so confident that the Forest of Ardennes, near the front lines in Belgium, became a rest and recreation area, complete with regular USO performances.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin explores the lifestyles of the rich and fabulous with Jane Haddam’s Blood in the Water.

Title: Blood in the Water

Author: Jane Haddam

Pages: 282

Publisher: Minotaur Books

ISBN: 0312644345

And read Kristin’s full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

A 'Cooked Seed' Sprouts After All, In America

May 13, 2013

Anchee Min's best-selling memoir Red Azalea told the story of her youth in China during the Cultural Revolution. Her followup, The Cooked Seed, picks up nearly 20 years later as she arrives in America with $500 in her pocket, no English and a plan to study art in Chicago.

Min tells NPR's Rachel Martin that her life in China ended because of her relationship with Madame Mao, a former actress and the wife of Chairman Mao Zedong.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

If you said the "s" word in the ninth century, you probably wouldn't have shocked or offended anyone. Back then, the "s" word was just the everyday word that was used to refer to excrement. That's one of many surprising, foul-mouthed facts Melissa Mohr reveals in her new book, Holy S- - -: A Brief History of Swearing.

Many high school seniors who are heading to college this fall have just paid their tuition deposits — the first real taste of what the college experience is going to cost them. These students are heading to school at a time that some consider a transformative moment for American colleges and universities. Costs are skyrocketing, and there are some real questions about what value college students are getting for their money.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin walks away from it all with One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis.

Title: One Step Too Far

Author: Tina Seskis

Pages: 185

Publisher: Kirk Parolles

ISBN: 978-0957544321

And read Kristin’s full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

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