The end of Round 8 of our Three-Minute Fiction contest has finally arrived. With help from our readers at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, New York University, the University of Oregon and the University of Texas, at Austin, we've read through more than 6,000 stories.
Submissions had to be original works of short fiction — no more than 600 words. They also had to begin with this sentence: "She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door."
And if you're just tuning in, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
Here's a terrible statistic: Once a veteran is home from Iraq or Afghanistan, he or she is more likely to die by suicide than from injuries sustained in the combat theater. There is new research that suggests those injuries may actually be contributing to the suicides.
John Mayer is one of the biggest-selling artists of the last decade — and with love interests like Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Aniston, one of its most pursued by the media. In 2010, he gave a pair of interviews to Rolling Stone and Playboy that shocked readers with sexually aggressive and racially insensitive language. Mayer seemed to be self-destructing in full view of his fans.
And we briefly note the passing of one of the world's great opera singers: German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau died today. He was 86. From his first recital in Berlin in 1947 until his retirement in 1992, Fischer-Dieskau is in demand at opera houses and concert halls the world over. He was especially known for his interpretations of Schubert songs, like this one from the song cycle "Winterreise" or "Winter Journey."
It was almost one year ago that the space shuttle Atlantis rose into the sky on a pillar of flame for the last time. The shuttle program ended forever with that mission. American astronauts were left to hitch rides on Russian space capsules, and American kids were left with no tangible direction forward for their dreams of a high-tech, space-happy future.
Tomorrow morning, the unmanned Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral so that supplies can reach the space station.
The movie Battleship, based on the popular board game, opens today in the U.S. In most respects, it's a typical popcorn picture — the kind of effects-laden action movie that audiences often turn into a summer blockbuster.
And while it may not be any good, it is undeniably ours — American from the water up: a Universal Studios picture about an alien invasion, crammed with special effects from Industrial Light and Magic and set largely on American warships.
Mark Zuckerberg is, among many other things, the highest-profile taxpayer on the planet today.
After today's Facebook IPO, Zuckerberg will owe nearly $200 million in California state taxes alone. That's "among the largest tax liabilities that a single individual has ever paid at a given point in time," says Jason Sisney of the California State Budget Legislative Analyst's Office.
Zuckerberg's profits will be taxed at a 10% rate in California. That's a much higher rate than in many other states.
Documents have been released in the investigation of George Zimmerman's shooting of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, shot Martin, an unarmed teen. He's claiming self-defense. Robert Siegel talks to Greg Allen.
Pop singer Donna Summer, whose long career began in the 1960s and reached its apex in the disco era of the '70s, died of cancer on Thursday at her home in Naples, Florida. Summer was 63 years old. According to Billboard magazine, the singer born LaDonna Gaines had 32 singles that charted in the Hot 100. Fourteen of them made it into the top 10. To hear Sami Yenigun's appreciation of Donna Summer's life and career, as heard on All Things Considered, click the audio link.
When you hear Cecil Taylor perform, you never forget it. He's a force of nature at the piano, with a furious attack and a sound all his own.
"His piano is an orchestra," says Ben Ratliff, music critic for The New York Times. "Cecil has been with us for so long. And every once in a while he does these amazing, galvanizing solo piano performances. And you go see them, and you think, like, 'Wow. What was that? That was amazing.' And I can't get that anywhere else in the world. And that's unique."
May is the month we see strawberries explode in the market. There are strawberry festivals in every corner of the nation celebrating the juicy ruby beauties, and Strawberry Queens crowned galore. Those traditional harvest time festivals make us think our strawberries are mostly grown on the farm just down the road.
The man known as the Godfather of Go-Go has died. Chuck Brown pioneered a musical style of percussion-heavy funk that was born in Washington, D.C. Brown died at age 75 after suffering from pneumonia. Robert Siegel has this remembrance.
Looking to get more popular on Facebook? Alex Melen will sell you 1,000 "likes" for about $75.
Melen runs an Internet marketing company. About six months ago, companies he worked with started coming to him more and more with a simple problem: They had created pages on Facebook, but nobody had clicked the "like" button.
"You would go there, and there would be two likes," Melen says. "And one of them would be the owner. And people right away lost interest in the brand."
One of Mexico's greatest writers has died: Carlos Fuentes. He was 83. Fuentes was a central figure in the Latin American literary boom of the 1960s and '70s. And he was publishing fiction and essays until the end, including an essay published today in the Mexican newspaper Reforma. I'm joined by Ilan Stavans, professor of Latino Studies at Amherst College. And, Professor Stavans, give us a sense of the broad sweep of Fuentes' career and what made his work so important.
One of Mexico's greatest writers has died: Carlos Fuentes. He was 83. Fuentes was a central figure in the Latin American literary boom of the 1960s and '70s. And he was publishing fiction and essays until the end, including an essay published today in the Mexican newspaper Reforma. Our own book critic Alan Cheuse knew Fuentes and reviewed many of his novels. Hi, Alan.
ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: Hi, Robert.
SIEGEL: And first, give us a sense of the broad sweep of Carlos Fuentes' career, and what made his work so important?
Time now for a home viewing recommendation from our film critic Bob Mondello. This time Bob urges taking the plunge from the seven-and-a-half-th floor into the Criterion Collection's Blu-ray release of Being John Malkovich.
When Facebook goes public this week, the company will be valued at roughly $100 billion.
It will be the highest valuation ever for an initial public offering of a tech company. Is Facebook really worth this much money?
One way to frame the question is to consider a single fraction.
The number on top of the fraction is the total value of the company. The number on the bottom is the company's profits over the past year. This fraction is called the price-to-earnings ratio. It's widely used by investors in stocks.
Lisa Marie Presley is a curiosity. Famous from birth, she is rock's only real princess. Her face is a stunning combination of her parents' best features. Her marriages have been, well, unusual. Who could forget her awkward television kiss with then-husband Michael Jackson? Or the few months of wedded bliss to actor and Elvis fanatic Nicolas Cage? She has led a colorful life — one that overshadowed her music career when she started making records in 2003.
India's Supreme Court is now weighing arguments by opponents and proponents of legal homosexuality. Same-sex relationships were decriminalized in 2009, but a number of political, social and religious groups are fighting to reinstate a colonial-era law that punished homosexual acts with prison time. Public health workers say legal recognition of India's gay community is critical in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Garth Knox was born to play the viola. As a youngster, he already had two sisters who played violin and a brother who played cello. "So for the family string quartet," Knox says, "it was very clear from the start which instrument I would play."
Fifty years ago, Johnny Carson became the host of TheTonight Show. During his 30 years as host, he reached a nightly audience of 15 million people and became one of the most trusted and famous men in America.
But Carson was intensely private off-screen, and very few people — including members of his own family--really knew him. Documentary filmmaker Peter Jones wanted to try and change that. Once a year, for 15 years, Jones sent Carson a letter, begging him for permission to make a documentary on his life.
Voters in Germany's most populous state, North Rhine Westphalia, have delivered a major blow to the ruling party, the Christian Democrats, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel. Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz talks with Michael Kolz, the chief political reporter for German station Phoenix, about why the results in North Rhine Westphalia matter and what they mean for the left-wing Social Democrats.
And if you're just joining us, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
In North Carolina this past week, voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman. A solid majority of the state's African-American voters backed it as well.
The very next day, President Obama publicly endorsed same-sex marriage. But will that affect black turnout in support of the president in November? Here's Tanner Latham from member station WFAE in Charlotte.
In 2002, Rafe Sagarin was working in Washington, D.C., as a science adviser. It wasn't long after the Sept. 11 attacks, and Sagarin started paying attention to the security measures on Capitol Hill.
"I'd watch these other Capitol Hill staffers and I noticed that they'd just put their hand over the keys in their pockets so they didn't have to waste 30 seconds putting it on the conveyer belt though the security screening — and that didn't set off the alarm when they did that," Sagarin tells host of weekend All Things Considered Guy Raz.
Weekends on All Things Considered continues its "Why Music Matters" series with stories of music fans, told in their own words. Today's story is about Amy O'Neal, a choreographer who took on the challenge of dancing in complete silence.
Football is a violent game, but a century ago it used to be a lethal pastime. NPR's Tom Goldman explains how President Teddy Roosevelt stepped in and forced the establishment of new rules that made the game safer.
In 1919, Chicago was called the "youngest great city in the world." World War I had just come to a close, troops were coming home, industry was booming and crime was down. Chicago's mayor at the time, William Hale Thompson — known as Big Bill — had just been re-elected and was spearheading an ambitious urban improvement program.
But in mid-July of 1919, just about everything that could go wrong in Chicago did. Among the headlines were a deadly dirigible crash, a bizarre kidnapping, race riots and a major public transit strike.