Emperor of Scent
Luca Turin is a scientist who loves perfume. That love led him to wonder how humans smell, a mystery that has not been solved to his satisfaction. Melissa speaks with Chandler Burr, author of a book that tells the story of Luca Turin and his quest. The book is called The Emperor of Scent: A Story of Obsession, Perfume, and the Last Mystery of the Senses. It's from Random House.
Alan Cheuse reviews Wintering by Kate Moses. It's a fictionalized portrait of Sylvia Plath's last days before her 1963 suicide.
Rocker Weller's UK Success Fails to Translate
Paul Weller's latest CD, Illumination, is number one on the British album charts, but one of the great mysteries of Weller's career is why he's so little-known or appreciated in America. The man behind the punk sound of The Jam and the pop-soul of The Style Council isn't sure why, either. Minnesota Public Radio's Euan Kerr reports.
The Bad Plus
Jim Fusilli listens to The Bad Plus, a jazz power trio with a rock-and-roll heart. The group discards the usual trappings of a trio of bass, drums and piano, which usually has the piano as the lead instrument, and the others in supporting roles. The Bad Plus tackles the music of Nirvana, Blondie, Aphex Twin and their own material the way a rock band does, which means everyone is responsible for the chaos and wonder that ensues.
The CD by The Bad Plus is called These Are The Vistas. It's on Columbia Records.
Couldn't Keep It to Myself
NPR's Michele Norris talks with Wally Lamb, editor of Couldn't Keep It to Myself: Testimonies from Our Imprisoned Sisters. The book is a collection of stories written in a workshop Lamb conducted for female inmates of Connecticut's York Correctional Institution. At first, the women were only interested in the fact that Lamb had been on the Oprah show, but later they came to trust him and opened up to him through their writing.
Conrad Praetzel and Robert Powell take old American ballads and folk songs and transform them into modern works. Their band is called Clothesline Revival. Chris Nickson reviews the album Of My Native Land, from the label Paleo Music.
Ben and Leo Sidran's El Elefante
Ben and Leo Sidran release their new children's CD El Elefante. The collection of original songs is in English and Spanish. Father and son started working together when the son was a child, and the collaboration grew from that. Ben is more jazz influenced; Leo is more pop- and rock-oriented. The two talk about the fun they had creating the music with NPR's Melissa Block.
Review: Ninna Nanna
Tom Manoff reviews a new CD of lullabies by Hesperion XXI. This gorgeous CD is filled with lovely playing by this early music ensemble. What makes this CD even more lovely is the singing of Montserrat Figueras. She sings these lullabies from various cultures including Spain and the middle east.
The CD is called Ninna Nanna by Hesperion XXI on the Alia Vox label.
Robert Siegel talks with Lizabeth Cohen, author of Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in a Postwar Society. Cohen's book charts the rise of mass consumption and how it changed how Americans live. In the book she takes aim at the GI Bill of Rights, questioning whether it was a model of benefits for those who served in World War II.
'A New Day at Midnight' - Musician David Gray
NPR's Lynn Neary talks with singer/songwriter David Gray about his new album A New Day at Midnight. Gray says grief over the death of his father was a big part of his motivation for writing the music on this album. Gray currently is in the United States for his first stadium concert tour.
The Master Butcher's Singing Club
The Master Butcher's Singing Club is Louise Erdrich's new novel, and like others before it, it's set in the fictional town of Argus, N.D. But unlike her other characters who've been mostly Native American, the people in this novel are German immigrants. This latest book was inspired by her German grandfather whose picture is on the cover of the book.
The book is published by HarperCollins.
Just Like a River
Alan Cheuse has a review of Just Like a River by Syrian writer Muhammad Kamil al-Khatib. The novel was published in Damascus in 1984 and has just been translated to English.
The book is published by Interlink.
Among the movies nominated for Best Picture this year is The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Commentator Simon Tolkien remarks on the visionary mind of his grandfather, J.R.R., who wrote the trilogy the movie is based on. Simon relates details of his grandfather's life and how those experiences influenced The Lord of the Rings. (Simon Tolkien is author of the novel Final Witness. It's published by Random House.)
Music critic Will Hermes tells us about the latest crop of anti-war songs. These aren't your father's anti-war tunes. They have roots in the jazz stylings of Sun Ra, hip hop, punk and pop.
The Sweet Potato Queen's Latest Dish
The books of Jill Connor Browne -- better known as the Sweet Potato Queen -- are shooting up the best-seller lists. She recently packed a Washington, D.C. bookstore with converts of her sassy, irreverent humor. Her latest book, The Sweet Potato Queens' Big-Ass Cookbook and Financial Planner, is already a hit.
NPR's Michele Norris talks with Lynne Duke, author of Mandela, Mobutu and Me: A Bittersweet Journal of Africa. Duke talks about her memoir of her experiences as the Johannesburg bureau chief for The Washington Post. From 1995 to 1999, she covered wars, epidemics, and political upheaval all over Africa. The book is published by Doubleday.
Singer and songwriter Mia Doi Todd talks about her song "Digital" which is on her new album The Golden State, on Columbia Records.
New Riley CD is 'Spiritual, Personal Journey'
The new CD by minimalist composer Terry Riley is a spiritual and personal journey for the composer. In Atlantis Nath, Riley uses common sounds such as street sounds, his keyboard playing and his voice to take the listener on a journey. Michelle Mercer has a review.
The CD, Atlantis Nath, by Terry Riley is on Sri Moonshine records.
The Lewis and Clark Cookbook
Two hundred years ago this year, Captain Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and the Corps of Discovery set out on their 7,000-mile, two-year trek across the wilderness of the new West. The explorers kept meticulous diaries -- including details of what they ate. Now a new cookbook with authentic recipes gives readers a taste of what what the Corps cooked on their journey.
Pinstripes & Pearls
Host Michele Norris talks with Judith Richards Hope about her book Pinstripes and Pearls: The Women of the Harvard Law Class of '64 Who Forged an Old Girl Network and Paved the Way for Future Generations. Hope recounts the experience of the 15 women in her graduating law class. Each went on to lead a powerful and interesting career.
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