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Bringing 'Dead Authors' To Life For Book-Smart Comedy

Every month, comedian Paul F. Tompkins plays the late science fiction author H.G. Wells in hosting different famed writers (played by some of comedy's hottest stars) for in-depth interviews about their work, their personal lives and their anger at critics.
NPR

American Literature And The 'Mythos Of The Boozing Writer'

In her new book, The Trip To Echo Spring, Olivia Laing investigates the role of drinking in the lives of six great American writers: Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Cheever, John Berryman, Tennessee Williams and Raymond Carver.
NPR

'Osage' Hits Close To Home For Writer Tracy Letts

Playwright Tracy Letts won the Pulitzer Prize for August: Osage County, a story of secrets and family dysfunction. Now it's been released as a film, for which Letts wrote the screenplay. The story and its characters came from his own experiences, Letts says.
NPR

The Cigarette's Powerful Cultural Allure

Nearly 20 percent of Americans still smoke, in spite of what we know about the dangers. Part of the reason is the allure of a cigarette, so elemental to classic scenes in movies, television shows and books. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Richard Klein, author of Cigarettes are Sublime, about smoking and American culture.
NPR

Who Gets To Be A Superhero? Race And Identity In Comics

Artist Orion Martin recently posted several images reimagining X-Men characters as people of color. This touched off a conversation about race in comic book worlds, and how these comic book depictions relate to real life.
NPR

Political Consultant Mary Matalin Plays Not My Job

Republican Mary Matalin has just co-authored a book with James Carville, her Democrat husband, called Love & War: Twenty Years, Three Presidents, Two Daughters and One Louisiana Home. We've invited her to answer three questions about the best media errors of 2013.
NPR

As Zamata Joins 'SNL,' A Look At — And Beyond — The Prism Of Race

Saturday Night Live recently announced that they were hiring Sasheer Zamata, the first black woman to join the cast in six years. For our series This Week's Must Read, author Danielle Evans recommends a book that can give readers an idea of how Zamata might feel: Get Down, a short story collection by Asali Solomon.
NPR

American Beer Fans, Praise The Heavens: A Trappist Brewery In U.S.

Trappist monks are known for producing some of the world's finest beers. But until recently, all of them were brewed in Europe. Next week, Spencer Trappist Ale, made by the monks of St. Joseph's Abbey in Massachusetts, hits retail shelves.
NPR

Cate Blanchett Finds Humor In The Painfully Absurd

After devoting the past several years to theater acting, Cate Blanchett starred this past summer in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine, for which she's been nominated for a Golden Globe. She spoke with NPR's Robert Siegel about the similarities between theater and film — and the need for lightness in even the darkest drama.
NPR

Remembering Activist Poet Amiri Baraka

Baraka was one of the key black literary voices of the 1960s. The political and social views that inspired his writing changed over the years, from his bohemian days as a young man in Greenwich Village to his later years as a Marxist. He spoke to Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 1986.

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