For most of her readers, the American author Diane Johnson is wholly identified with France and especially Paris. She's the author of novels like L'Affaire, Le Marriage, and Le Divorce — the last of which was made into a film.
So it comes as something of a surprise that Johnson's new book is about her roots in the American Midwest. And not only her own roots, but the roots of a family tree going back two centuries, painstakingly reconstructed from a trove of diaries and letters passed on by her mother.
One of the world's most beloved books is The Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupery. Published in 1943, almost two million copies are sold every year, in about 250 languages.
If asked where you think the book was written, you might say Paris. You'd be wrong. Try Long Island — as in Long Island, N.Y.
When the late Nikos Kefalidis bought the house on Beven Road in Northport, Long Island, in the late 1970s, he knew that 30 years before, Saint-Exupery had written and illustrated part of Le Petit Prince in that house.
The Australian Open is drawing to a close with Li Na of China winning the women's tournament on Saturday. If Rafael Nadal wins on Sunday, he'll be the first man to win all the majors twice in the era of opens. Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine joins NPR's Jacki Lyden to talk tennis and weigh in on the U.S. Olympic team's uniforms.
Sam Harris says he's been a ham all his life. He's been drawn to the spotlight since he was a kid, belting out "Sound of Music" tunes in a makeshift nun's habit, in his family's garage. Practice, practice, practice - and plenty of audacity - paid off all the way to Carnegie Hall. In 1983, Harris won the very first season of the television show "Star Search" with his performance of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
It's difficult to find a sport more maligned than curling, but curlers say that's changing. NPR's Jacki Lyden talks with Paul Savage, a formerly overweight Canadian curling champion who took home an Olympic medal at age 50. These days, the sport is more about fitness than it is about the beer.
The U.S. World Cup soccer team is in Brazil for 12 days of training and acclimation. The team drew a challenging schedule for the competition and will be playing in the northern cities of Natal and Recife as well as the Amazonian city of Manaus.
It's been a bitterly cold winter in much of the country, but hey, it could be worse: You could have been alive in the 6th century. Starting in 536 A.D., scholars wrote of a cold snap that lasted not days, but years. Journalist Colin Barra speaks with NPR's Jacki Lyden about scientists' quest to determine what caused the epic cold spell.
President Lyndon B. Johnson went to eastern Kentucky in 1964 to promote his War on Poverty. But when he did, he opened a wound that remains raw today. People in the region say they're tired of always being depicted as poor, so when NPR's Pam Fessler went to Appalachia to report on how the War on Poverty is going, she was warned that people would be reluctant to talk. Instead, she got an earful.
A lot of writers can be fairly easily stereotyped. They write stories about dysfunctional families, star crossed lovers, endearing losers; they write historical fiction, literary fiction or crime novels. But Jay Cantor's body of work defies categorization. His fiction has been inspired by topics as wide-ranging as the revolutionary life of Che Guevara and the comic strip world of Krazy Kat.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Lynn Neary. Time now for sports.
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NEARY: And then there were four. Tomorrow is the Sunday before the Sunday before the Super Bowl. And that means New England takes on Denver and San Francisco goes up against Seattle to see who's headed to the big game. NPR's Tom Goldman, who's caught in the middle of that San Fran-Seattle crossfire, joins us on the line from Portland. Good morning, Tom.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: I'm ducking here. Hiya, Lynn.
The North American International Auto Show opens to the public today. That's the fancy name for the Detroit car show. NPR's Sonari Glinton has been getting a sneak preview in the Motor City, hanging out with engineers and auto execs. And he's with us now. Good to talk with you, Sonari.
SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: It's good to be here, Lynn.
NEARY: Now, you've spent, I think, four days at the car show. What are the standouts?
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Lynn Neary. This week, it came out that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan quietly signed into law one of the most repressive anti-gay measures in the world. The law punishes violators with up to 14 years in prison. The development got us thinking about just how difficult it is to be homosexual in so many different parts of the world. To hear more about this, we've reached Jonathan Cooper, the chief executive of the U.K.-based gay rights organization Human Dignity Trust. Thanks for joining us.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
The biggest show in Vegas this week wasn't Celine Dion or DJ Afrojack. It was the Consumer Electronics Show. The annual show where buyers, journalists and consumers get a first look at new tech products that are about to hit the market. Snoop Dogg was there, Secretary of Commerce Pritzker was there. And so was NPR's Steve Henn, who joined us as the show was packing up, from the floor of the Consumer Electronic Show on Friday. Steve, thanks so much for being with us.
The movie August: Osage County has just opened, with its all-star cast.
Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch and more play various members of the Weston clan. They converge on their Oklahoma home when the patriarch, Beverly, who is a poet somewhat past his rhymes, goes missing.
His wife, Violet, gobbles pills, some of which are for the pain of mouth cancer and some of which are just because.
Mukhtar Mai is from a small tribal village in Pakistan. In 2002, her brother was accused of sexually molesting a woman from a wealthy land-owning clan. What happened next was horrifying, says singer and composer Kamala Sankaram.
The old bathroom building behind Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in rural Vacherie, La., was little more than a shack. Hurricane Rita almost knocked it down in 2005. It finally got bulldozed in October.
Some members of the parish say that was long overdue.
When the bathroom building went up in 1959, one set of doors was painted white; the others were a different color. Ushers would follow black parishioners outside to make sure they entered the correct door.
On Saturday afternoons, sometimes with a coworker or two, Siavash Rahbari drives up a rutted side street in Kabul to visit the Window of Hope orphanage.
In the living room, there are a dozen boys and two girls. Some are playing, while others lie around on mats on the floor, clearly suffering from a range of disabilities. Rahbari, a Texan who works at an NGO in Kabul, gives the children a cursory inspection.
2013 was an up and down year at the movies. There was a crop of box office flops. "The Lone Ranger" and "After Earth" fell into that trap. Steven Spielberg went so far as to predict an implosion of the film industry. Despite all that, 2013 looks to be the most lucrative year ever at the box office, but don't get your hopes up for the movie business just yet.
Stephen Galloway, executive features editor at the Hollywood Reporter, is not impressed by breaking that particular record.
Movie theatres have tried different ways over the years to combat declining ticket sales. In this encore broadcast, Topher Forhecz reports on the latest attempt to bring in audience by recreating the comforts of home.
TOPHER FORHECZ, BYLINE: When I decided to see a movie at an AMC Theatre in upper Manhattan, the first change I noticed was I had to reserve my seat when I bought my ticket beforehand. So I just walked in and there are about nine rows of leather seats and I am in D6, so I've got to go find it.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. And it's time for sports.
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WERTHEIMER: College football fans are saying goodbye forever to the bowl championship series, and as NFL playoffs skip a kickoff today, wild card weather could be a game changer. For more, I'm joined by NPR's sports correspondent, Tom Goldman. Good morning, Tom.
In the world of music, there is no more remarkable gift than having perfect pitch. As the story goes, Ella Fitzgerald's band would use her perfect pitch to tune their instruments.
Although it has a genetic component, most believe that perfect pitch — or absolute pitch — is a primarily a function of early life exposure and training in music, says Takao Hensch, professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard.
Many people know Rube Goldberg as an adjective — a shorthand description for a convoluted device or contraption. But Rube Goldberg was a real person — one who earned a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning and who captivated imaginations with drawings of complex chain reactions that completed the simplest of tasks.
Goldberg died in 1970, but Jennifer George, his granddaughter, has collected the zany world he created in a coffee table book, The Art of Rube Goldberg: (A) Inventive (B) Cartoon (C) Genius.