Arts and Culture

rock and roll

For author Jennifer Egan — whose novel "A Visit From The Goon Squad" documents the inner life of lifelong rock and roll stars—the pauses in rock ballads might say as much or more than the riffs.More

Marcel Marceau

For more than 60 years, the great French mime Marcel Marceau dominated stages around the world without ever saying a word. Shawn Wen documents Marceau's story in a book-length essay called “A Twenty Minute Silence Followed by Applause.”More

Not playing

John Cage’s "4’33” was first performed on August 29th, 1952, by pianist David Tudor. He came out on stage, sat at the piano, and did not play. The audience was not impressed. Kyle Gann tells the story in “No Such Thing as Silence."More

Reaching for 0 decibels

The world is getting noisier and it's hurting us. When George Mickelson Foy got worried about all of the toxic noise in his life, he set on a quest for absolute silence.More

Ada and the Memory Engine.

Lauren Gunderson is currently the most produced playwright in America. And she has written at least half a dozen plays about the forgotten women who changed science. She says we're living in a golden age for these remarkable stories.More

god and man

Yuval Noah Harari's sweeping and provocative Sapiens retells the history of our species from an entirely new perspective.More

Yogurt

The future belongs to a cultured dairy product, in science fiction writer John Scalzi's short story "The Day the Yogurt Took Over."  Read by Adam Hirsch.More

Suzanne Lee of BioCouture explains how to make clothes from bacteria

What if we could harness nature to grow clothing for us?  London-based fashion designer Suzanne Lee explains how.More

Still from "My Friend Dahmer"

So can we empathize with people who become monsters? Derf Backderf — whose teenage self appears in Meyers' film — certainly thinks so.More

Still from "My Friend Dahmer"

Filmmaker Marc Meyers talked to Charles Monroe-Kane about the challenges of finding reliability in a character like Jeffrey Dahmer while not denying the monster he would ultimately become.More

Jet Lag

Christopher J. Lee says jet lag has become more than a temporarily scrambled body clock. It’s become a way of life.More

Jukebox hero

In 1985, The New Yorker writer Susan Orlean started traveling around the country to find out how Americans spend their Saturday nights. One thing she discovered? How many Saturday night songs there are.
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Germany

The refugee crisis is front and center in Germany. So when German novelist Jenny Erpenbeck met a group of African refugees camping out in Berlin, she started asking questions about the lives they were forced to leave behind.More

Vijay Iyer

Celebrated jazz pianist Vijay Iyer has a Ph.D in music cognition and a penchant for asking big questions - like, what is music? And what does it do for us? Steve Paulson caught up with Vijay backstage before a recent concert, where they talked about improvisation and the parallels between jazz and basketball.More

Blues People

Alex Abramovich recommends "Blues People: Negro Music in White America" by Leroi Jones, who later changed his name to Amiri Baraka.More

Chuck Palahniuk has made a very successful career out of writing transgressive fiction. So maybe it's not surprising that Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" had a huge impact on Palahniuk.More

Shirley Jackson didn't just write haunting short stories and novels filled with psychological horror and suspense. She also wrote comic essays about her struggles to balance her writing career with family life -- her husband, literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman, and her four children. The oldest of these children is Laurence Jackson Hyman. He and his sister, Sarah Hyman DeWitt, put together a collection of Shirley Jackson's writing called "Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings."More

We take a closer look at one of Shirley Jackson's most haunting short stories, "The Daemon Lover." Joan Wylie Hall is our guide.  She's the author of "Shirley Jackson: A Study of the Short Fiction."More