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NPR

Years After Historic Ruling, Execution Still A 'Random' Justice

Evan Mandery's A Wild Justice is an account of the legal battles that led to the U.S. Supreme Court striking down capital punishment, then reversing course four years later. He says that today, prisoners who are sentenced to death have a 10 percent chance of actually being executed.
NPR

Creepy Kid From 'The Shining' Back In New Stephen King Book

Whatever happened to that kid in Stephen's King novel The Shining? King answers that question with his new book, Doctor Sleep, delving back into Danny Torrance's life. Alan Cheuse reviews King's new novel, and finds it just as terrifying as it's precursor.
NPR

Bio Credits Manson's Terrible Rise To Right Place And Time

California parolee Charles Manson arrived in San Francisco in 1967, when the city was full of young waifs looking for a guru. In Manson, Jeff Guinn argues that if the cult leader had instead been paroled in a place like Nebraska, he likely would not have been so successful.
NPR

'Don't Know'? Just Admit It

Author Leah Hager Cohen says it's time to stop faking your way through conversations. "Once you finally own up to what you don't know, then you can begin to have honest interactions with the people around you," she explains.
NPR

How Slavery Shaped America's Oldest And Most Elite Colleges

In Ebony & Ivy, an MIT historian details how the nation's colleges helped justify and benefited from the slave trade.
NPR

A Brazilian Writer's Love Letter To Rio De Janeiro

Writer Tatiana Salem Levy reads an excerpt from her short story "Blazing Sun." She writes about that moment "when the humidity reaches an unsustainable level, when you know that the hot, heavy, sticky weather is about to come undone in a downpour."
NPR

In Memoir, Linda Ronstadt Describes Her 'Simple Dreams'

Last month, Ronstadt revealed that she has Parkinson's disease and can no longer sing. Her new memoir, Simple Dreams, reflects on a long career. In this conversation with Fresh Air's Terry Gross, she offers frank insights on sex, drugs, and why "competition was for horse races."
NPR

In 'Sprinkler,' A Wacky Poet Returns With New Obsessions

Nicholson Baker's latest novel, Traveling Sprinkler, revolves around Paul Chowder, a lonely poet who's fascinated by drone warfare and Debussy. Chowder was the star of Baker's 2009 novel The Anthologist, and reviewer Heller McAlpin welcomes his reappearance — though not his political rants.
NPR

A Predictably Pynchonian Take On The Internet And Sept. 11

Elusive and iconic, author Thomas Pynchon may intimidate some readers, but he has a devoted following. Bleeding Edge, his new new novel, is about a spunky, Upper West Side mother and fraud investigator in the era between the dot-com boom and Sept. 11.
NPR

Kitchen Time Machine: A Culinary Romp Through Soviet History

Author Anya Von Bremzen's new memoir, Mastering The Art of Soviet Cooking, is a tragic-comic history of a family and a nation as seen through the kitchen window. Everything we ate in the Soviet Union was grown ... by the party state," she says. "So, with the food, inevitably, you ingested the ideology."

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