Arts & Culture

Author Interviews
4:39 pm
Sat May 25, 2013

A Literary Tale of Chechnya, The Horror and Whimsy

Russian soldiers take their position near the village of Shatoy, Chechnya.
Alexander Nemenov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun May 26, 2013 11:05 am

In his debut novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Anthony Marra transports readers to Chechnya, a war-torn Russian republic that has long sought independence.

The lyrical and heart-breaking novel begins in 2004 when a doctor watches as Russian soldiers abduct his neighbor, who has been accused of aiding Chechen rebels. He later rescues the neighbor's 8-year-old daughter, then colludes with another doctor to form an unlikely family amid the daily violence.

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The Salt
11:40 am
Sat May 25, 2013

Meet London's Master Architects In Jell-0

Sam Bompas (left) and Harry Parr made names for themselves with spectacular gelatin creations.
Courtesy of Sam Bompas

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 12:05 pm

Banana-flavored vapors? A pineapple island?

These may sound like the makings of a Roald Dahl children's book (he of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame). But at London's Kew Gardens, visitors can now immerse themselves in such fantastic-sounding experiences like rowing down a blue-dyed boating lake to the aforementioned island, which features a 15-foot replica pineapple towering over a banana grotto.

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From Our Listeners
6:08 am
Sat May 25, 2013

Three-Minute Fiction Readings: 'Geometry' And 'Snowflake'

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Originally published on Sat May 25, 2013 4:39 pm

NPR's Bob Mondello and Susan Stamberg read excerpts of two of the best submissions for Round 11 of our short story contest. They read Snowflake by Winona Wendth of Lancaster, Mass., and Geometry by Eugenie Montague of Los Angeles. You can read their full stories below and find other stories on our Three-Minute Fiction page or on Facebook.

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Three-Minute Fiction
6:06 am
Sat May 25, 2013

Geometry

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I found your journal in my car. A slim, Moleskin, six by ten centimeters, soft cover, blue, curving upwards at the edges like an incredibly shallow bowl, or a key dish. By the concavity in its form, the book seemed to be suggesting it was capable of carrying something. Something real. Not much. A few pennies. A handful of nails. One heavy pen cradled at that depression in the center, which had dropped out of the flatness of the book from riding around in the back pocket of your jeans.

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Three-Minute Fiction
6:05 am
Sat May 25, 2013

Snowflake

iStockPhoto.com

She found the photograph early in the day, while she was cleaning for spring, pulling a winter's collection of domestic detritus out from under the bed. Ticket stubs, grimy grocery notes, coffee-stained lined paper, and dead pens. Their life: movies, food, and books. She didn't like housecleaning, but the weather had changed, and something moved her to sweep around, put things in order, clean them up.

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