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Jodi Picoult is the author of 18 novels, including My Sister's Keeper, The Pact and Nineteen Minutes.
When you think about blockbuster best-sellers, genres like mystery, crime and romance typically come to mind.
My sister is glassy-eyed, slack-jawed, almost asleep, but she fixes her gaze directly on mine. February 20, 2016 • Ann Goldstein is the translator for the mysterious novelist's popular Neapolitan series.
September 10, 2015 • Elena Ferrante's edgy "Neapolitan Novels" chronicle a decades-long friendship between two Italian women. November 4, 2013 • Bound by the confines of gender and finances, two young women take divergent paths in Elena Ferrante's The Story of a New Name, the second book in her "Neapolitan Novels" trilogy. November 13, 2008 • This wholly original novel delves into taboo territory to become an astute psychological thriller.
Best known for his wacky appearances on Late Night with David Letterman, Chris Elliott tries out his literary skills with a novel about a demented serial killer. Maria Venegas' memoir Bulletproof Vest opens with the story of her father's near death at the hands of would-be assassins in the Mexican state of Zacatecas. Alina (far left) and Vicki (far right) participate in Valerie and Joe's marriage ceremony on Oct. By clicking JOIN US, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to Penguin Random House's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.
About a pair of sisters struggling after the breakdown of the national grid, “Into the Forest” may get lost in the glut of post-apocalyptic films we’ve seen since 2001.
Eva (Evan Rachel Wood) and Nell (Ellen Page) live with their widower father (Callum Keith Rennie) in a North California mountain home that’s a study in lovely isolation.
One way this film stands out from other dystopian fare is that it doesn’t concern itself with the specific cause of the power grid failure and the resulting societal breakdown. Part contemporary fable, part psychological thriller, there is a feminist fairy tale quality to this story, though it’s more intent on exploring biological rather than symbolic sisterhood, and is too delicately textured to push anything strident as an agenda. But the director more than compensates for her screenwriting deficiencies with voluptuous, haunting imagery. Listen to an extended version of the conversation Joan Didion had with NPR's Susan Stamberg. September 11, 2005 • After a summer of weekly book picks from a variety of notable readers, Weekend Edition Sunday asked for input from the listeners. May 13, 2005 • Robert Siegel talks about the history of beer with Tom Standage, technology editor at The Economist. Note: Book excerpts are provided by the publisher and may contain language some find offensive. The History of the World in 6 Glasses Walker & CompanyCopyright © 2005 Tom StandageAll right reserved. You've got to illuminate each one, and then let the reader decide what's the brightest one and why. Maureen Corrigan says the fourth and final novel, The Story of the Lost Child, is spectacular.
Very little is known about her, but Ferrante's books a€” widely believed to be a thinly veiled autobiography a€” have achieved cult status. Critic John Powers believes the bold, expansive series to be semi-autobiographical, a revelation from a secretive author who won't reveal her true name. He's shot while returning home from a bar, collapses near his house, losing blood, dying, until a neighbor happens upon him during a walk. And in fact, we have a big African immigration population here in Salt Lake City, and some of the social workers we've worked with in our community and are working with in our communities have also talked about these issues with other immigrant populations, other Muslim populations. If that’s the case, it’ll be a shame, for this adaptation of Jean Hegland’s gently sci-fi novel is a more intimate film than many of those zombie-busters and doomsday thrillers.
There is no soap-boxing about environmental or political failures, no extraterrestrials hailing from the heavens, no exploding cities, and few vigilante predators. If anything, this film upholds the bonds of blood in a way that I don’t always appreciate but accept because of the pure love at its center. There is a mythic pull to this landscape, a lonely nostalgia for a neo-Neverland, that is evocatively captured in the disintegrating glass studio in which Eva practices, the labyrinth of green in which the sisters wander, the bottle-blue light bathing the girls as they curl up in the same bed.
Didion's book about their lives together and her life now is called The Year of Magical Thinking. A History of the World in Six Glasses is Standage's new book that traces the history of civilization through beer, wine, distilled spirits, coffee, tea and coca cola.
ISBN: 0-8027-1447-1 Chapter One A Stone-Age Brew Fermentation and civilization are inseparable. And ultimately, I think that's the same experience the reader has when they pick up one of my books. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium.
When Maria's sister calls to tell her the news, the young writer doesn't even look up from her lunch menu. It is also more finely hewed, which makes sense given that it’s the latest offering from Patricia Rozema, who has directed such thoughtful fare as “Mansfield Park” (1999) and the oft-overlooked “I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing” (1987). In other words, this family is even more dependent on screens and gadgets than most Americans.
Apart from civilization, Nell and Eva worry less about the whys than the hows – how to physically and emotionally survive in this suddenly looming wilderness.
Nell may be immature and Eva may be needy, but they accept each other with a fortitude that eclipses their other human connections. As modern life fades, they entwine with each other and nature – a subtle suggestion that technology has alienated families from each other and the environment. She tells Susan Stamberg how she adjusted to the loss of her husband in 2003 and her daughter two years later.
But that's how Jodi Picoult, who has 33 million copies of her books currently in circulation, describes her novels. You learn something every time you read one of her books." Picoult doesn't take her fans for granted.


But when a seemingly permanent blackout grips the country, they seem better prepared than most since they’re well-acquainted with power outages up there in the woods. Incapable of dealing with this new reality, Eva obsessively practices for her never-gonna-happen audition and begs Nell to drain their precious electrical resources so she can watch home movies of their parents. We buy this hook, line, and sinker because Page and Wood serve as uncanny mirrors for each other. His first book was a Father's Day parody of Mommie Dearest called Daddy's Boy, which he wrote with his father, famous straight man Bob Elliott. They're not members of any organized polygamous faith, like Warren Jeffs' FLDS church, and they are not welcome in the Mormon church, which officially renounced polygamy in 1890 and does not tolerate it now.
A visit to town reveals abandoned stores, empty stations, and townspeople dangerously adrift, so they retreat to their comfortable quarters, which are well stocked with canned organics, live chickens, and back-up generators galore. Nell describes Eva’s emotional state as a fugue – “she seems fine, but can’t absorb what has happened” – and considers abandoning her and hiking to the East Coast with glib boyfriend Eli (Max Minghella). Each can be irritatingly wheedling, but burrow past those former-child-actor tics to deliver generous, sharp performances that are mercifully full of the nuance lacking in Rozema’s script.
Then their father is killed in a fluke accident, and the bubble bursts for good; after burying their remaining parent, the girls must figure out how to ration their supplies, defend themselves from invaders, and maintain their sanity.
But when Eva has a devastating encounter with the uninvited Stan (Michael Eklund), a former store clerk with desperate eyes and mismatched loafers, she finally opens her eyes and begins to face the future alongside Nell. One of the questions they had was, 'Are you an anarchist or polygamist?' "And I think it's been used almost as a way of discrimination in keeping different cultures and different societies out in our past. The book, in part, was a personal snapshot of her native California at a time of tremendous change. By that time, his daughter Maria has come to terms with him, almost a€” and the man whose life was dominated by violence embraces the sensitive, bright daughter whom he abandoned. The howling outburst was all part of a demonstration that showed just how much she learned about wolves while researching her new book, and vividly demonstrated her special talent for connecting with fans. The road to their reunion a€” "reconciliation" seems a bit too pat, a bit too optimistic a€” isn't easy. It's that difficult journey that Venegas chronicles so originally, so beautifully, in Bulletproof Vest. My 7-year-old daughter came [and] talked to me yesterday, and she was saying, 'I don't want to go to school tomorrow.' And I asked her why. Bestler remembers the time, right before she began working with Picoult, when she saw two young women on the subway reading her books.
She's in second grade now, but she [was] like, 'Back in first grade, when I didn't know that it wasn't a good idea to tell everybody you were a polygamy, I told him and a bunch of kids that we were.
I have no affinity for wolves; I know nothing about wolves beyond what most people tend to know. There are only multiple stories, each with a thousand different layers and perspectives, and trying to weave them into something coherent is as close to impossible as anything else in literature.
His novel True Confessions, a murder mystery set in Southern California, was eventually made into a 1981 movie.
And I started to do a little research, and I began to think, 'What if I created a guy who had lived with a wild pack? Dunne helped adapt the book for film and used his experience with Hollywood to write two non-fiction books about the movie business, The Studio and Monster. Who didn't just study them from afar, but actually lived with them?' " Picoult is not the kind of writer who just makes things up for her fiction.
She does extensive research for her books, delving into medical, scientific and ethical research, visiting hospitals and even prisons if necessary.
For background on Lone Wolf, she learned everything she could about wolves and spent time with a researcher who had actually lived with a pack. She's an immigrant living in a suburban Chicago neighborhood where Mexican-Americans are discriminated against, misunderstood by the few people who even bother to acknowledge them in the first place. But for all her interest in research and facts, Picoult still believes she can have the greatest impact on readers through fiction.
Administrators at her school accuse her of leading a gang, and even as she excels at academics, her school's faculty members seem skeptical of her ability to succeed in college. There was almost certainly no beer before 10,000 BCE, but it was widespread in the Near East by 4000 BCE, when it appears in a pictogram from Mesopotamia, a region that corresponds to modern-day Iraq, depicting two figures drinking beer through reed straws from a large pottery jar.
What is clear, however, is that the rise of beer was closely associated with the domestication of the cereal grains from which it is made and the adoption of farming. She switches perspectives and timeframes, sometimes suddenly, writing one chapter entirely in the second person. It came into existence during a turbulent period in human history that witnessed the switch from a nomadic to a settled lifestyle, followed by a sudden increase in social complexity manifested most strikingly in the emergence of cities. It's a much gentler approach, sometimes, into a controversial subject than nonfiction is." Fact, Fiction And Fans Waiting for Picoult to sign their books, Rachel Minnick, Susan Berkelbach and Carrie Dunn say they have been reading Picoult's books for years.
It's a risky move for any writer, and it's something like a miracle that Venegas pulls it off as perfectly as she does.
Beer is a liquid relic from human prehistory, and its origins are closely intertwined with the origins of civilization itself. She has taken on a long list of issues in her novels, including hard topics that many readers would just as soon not think about. Her narrative shifts aren't just bold; they're necessary a€” with every story, every chapter, she finds the perfect way to relate it. Its discovery was inevitable once the gathering of wild grains became widespread after the end of the last ice age, around 10,000 BCE, in a region known as the Fertile Crescent.
This area stretches from modern-day Egypt, up the Mediterranean coast to the southeast corner of Turkey, and then down again to the border between Iraq and Iran. Reflecting on her father's near death by gunmen, Venegas writes what must be one of the hardest things for a person to admit: "I'm indifferent to whether he lives or dies. When the ice age ended, the uplands of the region provided an ideal environment for wild sheep, goats, cattle, and pigs-and, in some areas, for dense stands of wild wheat and barley.
She's an incredible storyteller." Berkelbach likes how Picoult weaves different ideas into her stories.
This meant the Fertile Crescent provided unusually rich pickings for roving bands of human hunter-gatherers.


I'm certain that it's only a matter of time before his past catches up to him, before he turns up dead, and I've decided that when that call comes, I will not shed a single tear." And as amazing as that emotional honesty is, it's the brilliantly executed narrative structure a€” the stubborn refusal to give in to established perceptions about the memoir a€” that makes the book truly amazing. They not only hunted animals and gathered edible plants but collected the abundant cereal grains growing wild in the region. It's likely Bulletproof Vest will be taught in college classes for years to come, not just because of its brutal and heartfelt prose, but because of its technical brilliance. There are more than a thousand stories in this book, each one holding the others up and collapsing in on themselves. Although unsuitable for consumption when raw, they can be made edible by roughly pounding or crushing them and then soaking them in water.
A variety of ingredients such as fish, nuts, and berries would have been mixed with water in a plastered or bitumen-lined basket. Grains contain tiny granules of starch, and when placed in hot water they absorb moisture and then burst, releasing the starch into the soup and thickening it considerably. When no other foodstuffs were available to make soup, they could be used on their own to make either a thick porridge or a thin broth or gruel.
This discovery led to the development of tools and techniques to collect, process, and store grain. It involved quite a lot of effort but provided a way to guard against the possibility of future food shortages.
Throughout the Fertile Crescent there is archaeological evidence from around 10,000 BCE of flint-bladed sickles for harvesting cereal grains, woven baskets for carrying them, stone hearths for drying them, underground pits for storing them, and grindstones for processing them. An archaeologist used a flint-bladed sickle to see how efficiently a prehistoric family could have harvested wild grains, which still grow in some parts of Turkey. In one hour he gathered more than two pounds of grain, which suggested that a family that worked eight-hour days for three weeks would have been able to gather enough to provide each family member with a pound of grain a day for a year. But this would have meant staying near the stands of wild cereals to ensure the family did not miss the most suitable time to harvest them. And having gathered a large quantity of grain, they would be reluctant to leave it unguarded. It was difficult to make storage pits perfectly watertight, so this property would have become apparent as soon as humans first began to store grain. The cause of this sweetness is now understood: Moistened grain produces diastase enzymes, which convert starch within the grain into maltose sugar, or malt.
Gruel that was left sitting around for a couple of days underwent a mysterious transformation, particularly if it had been made with malted grain: It became slightly fizzy and pleasantly intoxicating, as the action of wild yeasts from the air fermented the sugar in the gruel into alcohol. The more malted grain there is in the original gruel, for example, and the longer it is left to ferment, the stronger the beer. More malt means more sugar, and a longer fermentation means more of the sugar is turned into alcohol.
The malting process converts only around 15 percent of the starch found in barley grains into sugar, but when malted barley is mixed with water and brought to the boil, other starch-converting enzymes, which become active at higher temperatures, turn more of the starch into sugar, so there is more sugar for the yeast to transform into alcohol. Later historical records from Egypt and Mesopotamia show that brewers always carried their own "mash tubs" around with them, and one Mesopotamian myth refers to "containers which make the beer good." Repeated use of the same mash tub promoted successful fermentation because yeast cultures took up residence in the container's cracks and crevices, so that there was no need to rely on the more capricious wild yeast. Finally, adding berries, honey, spices, herbs, and other flavorings to the gruel altered the taste of the resulting beer in various ways.
Over the next few thousand years, people discovered how to make a variety of beers of different strengths and flavors for different occasions.
Similarly, early written references to beer from Mesopotamia, in the third millennium BCE, list over twenty different kinds, including fresh beer, dark beer, fresh-dark beer, strong beer, red-brown beer, light beer, and pressed beer. Red-brown beer was a dark beer made using extra malt, while pressed beer was a weaker, more watery brew that contained less grain. Mesopotamian brewers could also control the taste and color of their beer by adding different amounts of bappir, or beer-bread.
To make bappir, sprouted barley was shaped into lumps, like small loaves, which were baked twice to produce a dark-brown, crunchy, unleavened bread that could be stored for years before being crumbled into the brewer's vat.
Records indicate that bappir was kept in government storehouses and was only eaten during food shortages; it was not so much a foodstuff as a convenient way to store the raw material for making beer. A thick gruel could be baked in the sun or on a hot stone to make flatbread; a thin gruel could be left to ferment into beer.
The two were different sides of the same coin: Bread was solid beer, and beer was liquid bread. But much can be inferred from later records of the way beer was used by the first literate civilizations, the Sumerians of Mesopotamia and the ancient Egyptians. Indeed, so enduring are the cultural traditions associated with beer that some of them survive to this day. Sumerian depictions of beer from the third millennium BCE generally show two people drinking through straws from a shared vessel.
By the Sumerian period, however, it was possible to filter the grains, chaff, and other debris from beer, and the advent of pottery meant it could just as easily have been served in individual cups. That beer drinkers are, nonetheless, so widely depicted using straws suggests that it was a ritual that persisted even when straws were no longer necessary.
When several people drink beer from the same vessel, they are all consuming the same liquid; when cutting up a piece of meat, in contrast, some parts are usually deemed to be more desirable than others. As a result, sharing a drink with someone is a universal symbol of hospitality and friendship. It signals that the person offering the drink can be trusted, by demonstrating that it is not poisoned or otherwise unsuitable for consumption. The earliest beer, brewed in a primitive vessel in an era that predated the use of individual cups, would have to have been shared. Although it is no longer customary to offer visitors a straw through which to drink from a communal vat of beer, today tea or coffee may be offered from a shared pot, or a glass of wine or spirits from a shared bottle.
And when drinking alcohol in a social setting, the clinking of glasses symbolically reunites the glasses into a single vessel of shared liquid.




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