nprmusic:

This is The Mountain Goats’ johndarnielle on nprfreshair talking about his novel Wolf in White Van, self destruction, The Incredible Hulk, and, of course, heavy metal

johndarnielle on his childhood hero:

My dude was the Incredible Hulk — that was my hero. I get emotional when I think about it. … He valued and treasured his friends and … anyone who mistreated them, he wanted to destroy, utterly.

In other book news today: FormerNew York Times journalist Leslie Bennetts will write a biography of the late comedian Joan Rivers.
In a press release, Bennetts writes that Rivers’ career was “enormously significant in American cultural history, breaking down barriers for women in television and comedy and continually redefining the acceptable boundaries of truth-telling for women in public life.” (The press release also notes, helpfully, that Bennetts once made Hillary Clinton cry during an interview.) Joan Rivers: A Life will come out from Little, Brown & Company in 2016.
Image via the-crescendo.tumblr.com

In other book news today: FormerNew York Times journalist Leslie Bennetts will write a biography of the late comedian Joan Rivers.

In a press release, Bennetts writes that Rivers’ career was “enormously significant in American cultural history, breaking down barriers for women in television and comedy and continually redefining the acceptable boundaries of truth-telling for women in public life.” (The press release also notes, helpfully, that Bennetts once made Hillary Clinton cry during an interview.) Joan Rivers: A Life will come out from Little, Brown & Company in 2016.

Image via the-crescendo.tumblr.com

The MacArthur “genius grants” were announced just after midnight. Winners include cartoonist and graphic memoirist Alison Bechdel, playwright Samuel D. Hunter, translator and poet Khaled Mattawa and poet Terrance Hayes.

Alison Bechdel was commended for “expanding the expressive potential of the graphic form in intricate narratives that explore the complexities of familiar relationships.” Bechdel’s comic strip, Dykes to Watch Out For, ran from 1983 to 2008. “The characters in my comic strip … are all thinly veiled versions of myself,” she told the MacArthur Foundation. “No matter what they look like … they’re all basically me.” Her memoirs include Fun Home, about her father, which she talked about  with Liane Hansen in 2006, and a book about her mom titled Are You My Mother?, which she discussed with Guy Raz in 2012. In a Q&A with NPR on Tuesday, she said:

"I guess I’m proudest of just really sticking with this odd thing I loved and was good at — drawing comics about marginal people (lesbians) in a marginal format (comics). I never thought much about whether that was responsible, or respectable, or lucrative."

Khaled Mattawa was recognized for “rendering the beauty and meaning of contemporary Arab poetry accessible to an English reader and highlighting the invaluable role of literary translation in bridging cultural divides.” He says he finds it “moving and rewarding” to connect poets and readers who otherwise would not have been connected. “There were many great Arab poets who were not available in English, so it seemed important for me to bring them to the American reader,” Mattawa told the MacArthur Foundation. Mattawa spoke with NPR back in February 2011 about his birthplace, Benghazi, Libya, which had just seen an uprising against the regime of Moammar Gadhafi. He told Guy Raz:

“I feel rebirth, greatly honored to be from Benghazi. I feel slightly ashamed at having distrusted the people or my fellow citizens at not being able to rise. And I feel a great sense of solidarity with the people of my city. I’m overjoyed.”

Terrance Hayes was recognized for “reflecting on race, gender, and family in works that seamlessly encompass both the historical and the personal and subvert canonical forms.” Tune in to All Things Considered tonight to hear Melissa Block’s conversation with Hayes. “I’m pursuing a kind of language which is just as complicated and just as transparent as human experience,” he told the MacArthur Foundation. NPR featured Hayes’ poem “The Blue Terrance” back in 2006.

Samuel D. Hunter was commended for “quietly crafting captivating dramas that explore the human capacity for empathy and confront the socially isolating aspects of contemporary life across the American landscape.” Drawing inspiration from his Idaho hometown, Hunter says his plays are an “experiment in empathy.” He tells the MacArthur Foundation: “The plays are very plainspoken. I’m not interested in making a kind of art that goes over anybody’s heads. … I want them to be accessible.”

Clockwise from top left: Alison Bechdel, Samuel D. Hunter, Terrance Hayes and Khaled Mattawa. Images Courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Image via Party Marshmallow
OK, NPRBooks Brain Trust, we need your help. We’ve got some upcoming weddings here and we’d like to know: Can you think of great book passages to use as readings during a wedding ceremony? Here’s one to get you started, from George Eliot’s Adam Bede:

What greater thing is there for two human souls, than to feel that they are joined for life — to strengthen each other in all labor, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting?

What else is out there?

Image via Party Marshmallow

OK, NPRBooks Brain Trust, we need your help. We’ve got some upcoming weddings here and we’d like to know: Can you think of great book passages to use as readings during a wedding ceremony? Here’s one to get you started, from George Eliot’s Adam Bede:

What greater thing is there for two human souls, than to feel that they are joined for life — to strengthen each other in all labor, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting?

What else is out there?

The poetry longlist for the 2014 National Book Awards includes collections from Claudia Rankine, Fanny Howe, Edward Hirsch and former U.S. Poet Laureates Louise Glück and Mark Strand. The National Book Foundation said in a press release: “The Longlisted books range in style and content: from a single elegiac narrative poem to a provocative examination of race relations told in an experimental fusion of lyric, prose poems, and image.”

This is the second of four longlists being released this week — Young People’s Literature was announced yesterday, and Nonfiction and Fiction will be announced Wednesday and Thursday. The shortlists will be announced in October and the winners on Nov. 19.

Click here for the full poetry longlist.

“My relationship with Los Angeles is entirely autobiographical. … My parents hatched me in the film noir epicenter at the height of the film noir era, and my parents were right out of film noir.”

Writer James Ellroy – author of gritty LA crime novels like The Black Dahlia and L.A. Confidential – sat down with NPR’s Arun Rath for a “deep-down, dirty, lasciviously LA” lunch. They talked about his new book, Perfidia, what draws him to historical fiction and his computer-free writing process. You can read, or listen to, their conversation here.

Image: British children’s author Roald Dahl, circa 1971. (Photo by Ronald Dumont/Daily Express/Getty Images)
Saturday, Sept. 13, was Roald Dahl’s birthday! That day is also known as Roald Dahl Day, when wonderfully whimsical things like the Oompa Loompa Skydive happen. (It also happens that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is 50 years old this year!)
HBD, Roald!

-Intern Bita

Image: British children’s author Roald Dahl, circa 1971. (Photo by Ronald Dumont/Daily Express/Getty Images)

Saturday, Sept. 13, was Roald Dahl’s birthday! That day is also known as Roald Dahl Day, when wonderfully whimsical things like the Oompa Loompa Skydive happen. (It also happens that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is 50 years old this year!)

HBD, Roald!

-Intern Bita

Some notable books coming out this week:

  • In Sarah Waters’ new novel, The Paying Guests,Frances Wray, 27, unmarried, and increasingly desperate for money, convinces her mother that they need to take in lodgers — “paying guests,” euphemistically — to pay the bills. The Barbers move in, and Frances finds herself enthralled by the beautiful Mrs. Barber. Before long, they begin a love affair, with fatal consequences. Sarah Waters is so skillful that the reader (to borrow a simile from Lilian and Frances’ love affair) softens in her hands like wax: It’s impossible to think critically about technique or style or plot — or do anything but turn the next page. The Paying Guests makes for a transporting, even rapturous, reading experience.
  • Margaret Atwood’s Stone Mattressis a collection of nine stories that NPR’s Arun Rath calls “wonderfully weird.” In the title story, a woman encounters her rapist on a cruise years after the attack; he doesn’t recognize her. She decides to kill him. During an interview with Rath, Atwood spoke about trauma and memory: “Those things, although you may forget about them in your 20s, they are the sub-layer upon which your life is based, and they come back.”

 Also out this week: Natasha Wimmer’s translation of Little Lumpen Novelita by Roberto Bolaño, a reissue of Jean Merrill’s classic children’s novel The Pushcart War, and Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David by the inimitable Lawrence Wright.

More book news here.