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Readers' Review: "Train Dreams" by Denis Johnson

For the May Readers Review, we chose a work that was shortlisted for this year's Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It's a novella by Denis Johnson titled "Train Dreams." It begins in 1917 in the Idaho panhandle. The central character works the railroads and virgin forests that fueled America's push for economic progress. He experiences tragedy and wonder, and his life echoes the hardship and beauty of a nation on the cusp of radical change. He's quietly heroic, simply by surviving. Diane and her guests discuss this portrait of a man and a place, by the author of "Tree of Smoke," winner of the 2007 National Book Award.

Read An Excerpt

Excerpted from TRAIN DREAMS by DENIS JOHNSON. Published in 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2002 by DENIS JOHNSON. All rights reserved.

NPR

Remembering Alan Cheuse, Our Longtime Literary Guide

For some 30 years, Alan Cheuse was our guide to the best and worst of the written word. He passed away today at 75, after a car accident two weeks ago. NPR's Susan Stamberg has an appreciation.
NPR

Pesticide Drift Threatens Organic Farms

Conventional farmers use millions of pounds of pesticides each year to protect crops from weeds and insects. When those chemicals drift to neighboring property, they can ruin crops on organic farms.
NPR

Planned Parenthood Controversy Raises Questions About Fetal Tissue Research

A series of sting videos targeting Planned Parenthood is raising questions about the field of fetal tissue research. Companies who buy and sell such tissue defend their work.
NPR

Letting Go Of The Wheel: How Google Is Easing People Into Self-Driving Cars

Google has begun testing a new self-driving car this summer that is designed to work without a steering wheel. But as the Planet Money team reports, the company's biggest challenge may be convincing Americans to hop inside.

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