books

Before becoming one of today's most popular mystery writers, Canadian Louise Penny was a CBC journalist and radio host. She struggled while pursing her childhood goal of writing a book, but finally found her stride, and fame,  in a series of novels around the central character of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Out in Western Kansas, not too far from Dodge City, is the town of Jetmore. It’s home to about 900 people, including the Bradshaw family. Young Crystal Bradshaw had a happy childhood there, but one thing was missing, so she set out to solve a family mystery.

She ended up writing an important book about Kansas – before she even went to college.

A talk with a local visual and performing artist who has just released his first collection of poetry.

Guest:

Chico Sierra has a reading on September 15 at the Raven Bookstore in Lawrence.

 

The kidnapping of a red-headed, half-Irish, half-Mexican Arizona boy was the unlikely impetus for the longest war in American history, says historian Paul Andrew Hutton. The Apache Wars lasted from 1861 until 1890, and revealed the tensions that existed between tribal communities and American settlers.

People in Atalissa, Iowa, knew about the intellectually disabled men who lived in the town’s old schoolhouse and worked in the nearby turkey plant, but they didn’t know those men were being neglected by a business set up to provide cheap labor. It's a heart-breaking story told by New York Times reporter Dan Barry in The Boys in the Bunkhouse.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Even if you're not a fan of science fiction, you've probably heard of George R.R. Martin. (Does Game of Thrones ring a bell?) Melinda M. Snodgrass is no slouch herself, having written and edited for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Together, they edit a book series called Wild Cards, which could soon be adapted for television.

If you feel like your smartphone has a mind of it's own, it's not just you. After years of stacking new systems on top of generations of old technology, things have become so complicated no one really understands it. 

Guest:

gleasonmovie.com

Some days are harder than others, but a little help from a loved one — or a stranger — can make all the difference. What better way to repay the favor than treating your friend to a film? This week, Up To Date's indie, foreign and documentary film critics have a selection of movies about vulnerable people in a seemingly callous world. 

Cynthia Haines

The Innocents, PG-13

Are we a society of bullies? We talk to two sociologists who make the case we can’t fix bullying in schools until we take a close look at the bigger institutional factors in America that encourage it.

Guests:

In researching Topeka's Westboro Baptist Church, Arkansas State University sociologist Rebecca Barrett-Fox got an intimate view of the ministry's operations. Despite what most people think, Barrett-Fox found the congregation and its roots aren't that far off the beaten path.

These days, politicians who change their policy positions are called flip-floppers, but that epithet could easily apply to some of this country's most celebrated leaders. Journalist Larry Tye's book, Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon, illustrates the political evolution of Robert Kennedy.

While she comes from a writing family, Delia Ephron didn't start her writing career until her thirties. Since then she's made up for lost time, writing and producing screenplays, plays, books for children and adults and movies. Her latest novel, Siracusa, is already being adapted into a film.

Photo courtesy of Katherine Dumas

On June 30, Governor Jay Nixon appointed Aliki Barnstone as Missouri’s fourth Poet Laureate.

A creative writing professor at the University of Missouri–Columbia, her work has often appeared in UMKC’s New Letters magazine.  

The daughter of Greek visual artist, Elli Tzalopoulou-Barnstone, and American writer, Willis Barnstone, Aliki Barnstone was destined for a life in the arts.

www.themusicofstrangers.film

For some people, music is a language that can be communicated without words. Up To Date's indie, foreign and documentary film critics add a new pick this weekend, that explains the beauty and power of music that speaks for itself.

Cynthia Haines

The Music of Strangers, PG-13

These days, political discourse may feature the occasional soaring oratory, but more often, it comes down to talking heads yelling at each other. Maybe what the world needs now is the kind of politics found only in books. As we approach the 2016 presidential election, we take a moment to explore the best books about politics with KCUR's Bibliofiles.

Guests:

Before a college ballplayer can make it to the Majors, they've got to prove to coaches, scouts, and most importantly themselves, that they have what it takes. The Clarinda A's baseball team, and the small Iowa town that hosts it, has the unlikely distinction of not just developing that kind of talent, but of fostering hard work, integrity and responsibility in the process.

Guest:

http://www.nutsthefilm.com/

You may not be able to go out and blow stuff up with the same vim and vigor, but that doesn't mean you have to let the wet forecast put a damper on your Independence Day weekend. Up To Date's indie, foreign and documentary film critics have a few recommendations to keep you entertained — and dry! — while the rain passes through.

Cynthia Haynes

NUTS!, Not rated

We all remember the Titanic, but do you remember the Cap Arcona? The German luxury liner, regarded as the greatest ship since the Titanic, suffered a fate just as horrifying.

Guest:

ProjectManhattan / Wikimedia--CC

Children’s literature is becoming more and more diverse, but choosing which books to share with children can still be difficult. 

KCUR’s Central Standard recently welcomed Kansas City authors Christine Taylor-Butler and Traci Sorell to a discussion of how representations of race in children’s literature have changed over time.

Here are their recommendations for books with diverse and nuanced characters and storylines.

Christine Taylor-Butler, children’s book author:

flickr user Peter Musolino

Many teenagers seek out jobs, often for the first time, in the summer. Writer and novelist Thomas Fox Averill was 16 when he started his first job at Mount Hope Cemetery in Topeka, Kansas.

Averill, a writer-in-residence and professor of English at Washburn University, spent three summers as part of the grounds crew at Mount Hope. He told New Letters on the Air host Angela Elam that the experience shaped his life and his approach to writing.

“First crushes are enduring" but celebrity crushes bring “a whole new level of potency" says Dave Singleton, co-author of Crush: Writers Reflect on Love, Longing and the Lasting Power of Their First Celebrity Crush. Up to Date host Steve Kraske, along with KCUR staffers and listeners reveal their celebrity crushes and learn why they endure.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

It may look like just another hefty tome, but Shakespeare's First Folio is a big deal. Up To Date hit the road for a live, first-hand look at one of the most valuable, and rare, literary documents in the English language.

Guests:

It might seem cramped to you, but there are plenty of reasons people consider downsizing into a tiny home.  Young adults who've been priced out of living in the city, retirees who prefer a tiny home on wheels to a giant RV, even folks whose finances were upended by the recession, are all driving a trend toward smaller, more economical living spaces.

Guest:

You know the story; with a good education, hard work, and a little stick-to-itiveness, you can make a better life for yourself and your kids. It's quite literally the American dream. Political scientist and author Robert D. Putnam wonders, though, if that narrative is becoming less attainable.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Within ten minutes of his first day of school Juan Felipe Herrera was spanked, scolded, and left crying, all for speaking Spanish, the only language he knew. You wouldn't have guessed it then, but Herrera would grow up to be named the United States Poet Laureate. Twice.

His journey may never have happened if it weren't for his third-grade teacher, Mrs. Sampson.

"She said something that stayed with me for the rest of my life, and that I tell everyone I meet," Herrera said in an interview on KCUR's Up To Date, "you have a beautiful voice."

Most of us get that the U.S. government failed to fix the banking system after the Great Recession. The irony is that the world of high finance and wealth creation is still ruling the country, while the financial system is as vulnerable as ever.

Guest:

  • Rana Foroohar is an assistant managing editor at TIME and the magazine's economics columnist. She is the author of Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business.
Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

The Vietnam War divided the country – and families – including that of Kansas City writer Alan Robert Proctor. His brother, Bruce Proctor, worked in the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency before fleeing the country to avoid being sent to Vietnam.

We might be breaking kayfabe in saying so, but it's well-known that most professional wrestling is three parts theater, one part combat. While the moves in the ring might be choreographed, the injuries sustained by performers and the emotion from the crowd is anything but a farce.

Guest:

Literature lovers owe a debt of gratitude to industrialist Henry Folger, who assembled the largest collection of William Shakespeare's folios, including the famed First Folio. Without that anthology, "half of his plays would have ended up on the ash heap of history," says author Andrea Mays.

You probably think he turned his back on our nascent nation, but before all that Gen. Benedict Arnold was an ally of George Washington and a war hero to boot. Author Nathaniel Philbrick's latest book, Valiant Ambition, explores Arnold's motives for making the decision that ultimately became his legacy.

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