In the introduction to his book, Savage Continent, Keith Lowe writes:
Imagine a world without institutions. No governments. No school or universities. No access to any information. No banks. Money no longer has any worth. There are no shops, because no one has anything to sell. Law and order are virtually non-existent because there is no police force and no judiciary. Men with weapons roam the streets taking what they want. Women of all classes and ages prostitute themselves for food and protection.
At the center of David Gilbert's new novel & Sons is a famous and famously reclusive writer in the J.D. Salinger model. It's a book about the writer as author of books, and as the father of sons — sons who don't feel nearly as warmly toward him as readers do. When & Sons begins, the writer, Andrew Newbold Dyer — or A.N. Dyer as he's known to his readers — is nearing 80.
Pioneering musician Carline Ray died July 18 at age 88. In the 1940s, when it was difficult for women to be accepted as jazz musicians, Ray found a home in the all-female band The International Sweethearts of Rhythm as the guitarist and a featured vocalist. She was also a bass player who performed with Sy Oliver, Mercer Ellington and Mary Lou Williams.
Ray was born in Harlem in 1925 during the Harlem Renaissance. She graduated from Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music. Her husband, Luis Russell, led his own band and worked as Louis Armstrong's music director.
After covering the Egyptian revolution that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, David Kirkpatrick has now been reporting on the military's ouster of Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Kirkpatrick, The New York Times' Cairo bureau chief, arrived in Egypt in January 2011, and days later flew to Tunisia to cover the revolution that launched the Arab Spring.
Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
Two documentaries, Blackfish and The Act of Killing, are making waves around the world. The first riles you up; the second blows your mind.
"Blackfish" is the Inuits' name for the orca, a creature that they say is worthy of veneration but that you don't want to mess with — the chief example in Gabriela Cowperthwaite's Blackfish being Tilikum, responsible for two, possibly three human deaths.
The movie is Tilikum's story — along with the story of other orcas kept in captivity in theme parks like SeaWorld.
With each season of AMC's Breaking Bad, Dean Norris' character, DEA agent Hank Schrader, has evolved from a knuckleheaded jock into a complex, sympathetic and even heroic counterpoint to the show's anti-hero, high-school chemistry teacher turned meth cook Walter White. And to further complicate matters, Schrader and White (played by Bryan Cranston) are brothers-in-law.
Call it "The Mystery of the Missing Book Sales" — and I don't think we'll be needing to bring Sherlock Holmes in to solve this one. In April, a debut mystery called The Cuckoo's Calling was published. It appeared to be written by an unknown British writer named Robert Galbraith, who was identified on the book jacket as a former military cop now working in private security.
It's almost uncomfortable to laugh at Maria Bamford's comedy, because so much of it is about really serious problems she has: OCD, bipolar disorder, suicidal thoughts. She's been hospitalized several times. But you have to laugh, because she's that funny.
In addition to the difficulties from which she suffers, Bamford — who has a new comedy CD out called Ask Me About My New God! — incorporates her family into much of her material. She's close to both her parents, in part, she says, because they've been through so much together.
When singer-songwriter Jason Isbell used to get drunk, he'd sometimes tell his then-girlfriend, the musician Amanda Shires, that he needed to quit the bottle — and that if it was going to take, he'd have to go to rehab. Eventually, she said the next time he told her that, she'd hold him to it. And she did. And he went. And, he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "The jury is still out on whether or not it worked, but it worked today and all the days leading up to this."
Initially, he says he was scared about what sobriety would do to his personality and his creativity.