Arts & Culture

Libertie, a new novel by Kaitlyn Greenidge, is inspired by the life of Dr. Susan Smith McKinney-Steward, the third African American woman to earn a medical degree in this country.

After the Civil War, McKinney-Steward opened her own practice in Brooklyn and co-founded the Brooklyn Women's Homeopathic Hospital and Dispensary. McKinney-Steward was an exceptional woman, a pioneer. But, of course, it can be hard living in the shadow of such a pathbreaker, especially when you yourself are drawn to the simpler pleasures of the conventional.

The stories in Haruki Murakami's new collection, First Person Singular, have a sort of fractal nature — you're reading a story by a middle-aged Japanese man in which a middle-aged Japanese man is telling you a story (and sometimes that story involves him telling other stories). You get drawn into the spiral, and soon you're in that strange world where many of his stories exist, a place full of his favorite things (jazz, baseball, the Beatles, though surprisingly few cats this time) and yet unmistakably odd, existing at a slight, unexplained angle to reality.

When Sonora Jha gave birth to her son, she was certain of one thing: She wanted to raise him as a feminist.

Growing up poor in Washington state, singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile learned about harmony and rhythm while performing as a backup singer for a friend's dad, who worked as an Elvis impersonator.

"It was pretty interesting education to be on the backside of the stage looking at audience faces," Carlile says. "I learned the things that they react to, how a smile is contagious. ... And I remembered thinking, standing back there in my poodle skirt going, 'Actually, I want to be that dude.' "

Through Decades Of Addiction, Hunter Biden Says His Family Never Gave Up On Him

Apr 5, 2021

At its heart, Hunter Biden's new memoir, Beautiful Things, is a story of addiction.

Biden, the 51-year-old son of the president, writes that he first bought crack cocaine at age 18. He first fell in love with alcohol in high school and started drinking heavily after work in his 20s. "I always could drink five times more than anyone else," he writes.

He has been in and out of rehab numerous times over the last two decades and has had long periods of sobriety between relapses.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Now it's time for one of our favorite things, poetry. April is National Poetry Month, and each week, we invite a celebrated poet to read through some of your original poems. Today, we're going to hear from poet Franny Choi. Her latest poetry collection is called "Soft Science," and she's the co-host of the "VS" podcast. Earlier this week, she spoke with our own Michel Martin, and she started by telling her about the first time she fell in love with poetry.

Jon Batiste On His New Album, 'We Are'

Apr 4, 2021

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Old Ways Cradle A New Life In 'I Sang You Down From The Stars'

Apr 4, 2021

"I loved you before I met you. Before I held you in my arms, I sang you down from the stars."

Haruki Murakami is a master of the mesmerizing head-scratcher. His fiction, whether long or short, highlights life's essential strangeness and unfathomability. In book after book, his narrators (invariably male) draw us in with mystifying tales of odd experiences that even years later remain "permanently unsolved, like some ancient riddle."

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How do you tell the story of absence? How do you visualize the space occupied by longing?

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(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE LAST CHANCE TEXACO")

RICKIE LEE JONES: (Singing) A long stretch of headlights bends into I-9. Tiptoe into truck stops.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

People Are Stealing Legos. Here's Why

Apr 3, 2021

Lego larceny may be on the rise.

French police have been investigating an international ring of toy thieves with a particular affinity for the colorful, interlocking bricks, according to a recent report from The Guardian.

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