On the Radio

Week of August 21, 2016

book burning

Flammable Fiction

August 21, 2016

What's the hot new thing in fiction? Fire! Today, novelists Jesse Ball and Joe Hill talk about their incendiary new fiction. And we meet a pyromaniac-turned-firefighter who can really light up a page. Join us for an hour of flammable fiction.

  1. Death by Spontaneous Combustion

    Joe Hill is the son of a writer you've probably heard of -- Stephen King. And Hill is following in his father's footsteps by writing the same kind of bone-chilling horror that his Dad is famous for. Hill's latest novel is called "The Fireman" and it's burning up the best-seller charts.

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  2. Fighting Wildland Fires

    Mary Pauline Lowry has been obsessed with fire since she was a child. And she's pursued this obsession throughout her life -- by working as a member of a hotshot crew fighting wildland fires and writing a novel called "Wildfire" based on her experience.

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  3. The Politics of Arson

    Jesse Ball's new novel is called "How to Set a Fire and Why." The protagonist is a teenage girl who joins a secret Arson Club at her new school.

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  4. Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past

    Cultural critic Chuck Klosterman takes thinking about the future to a whole new level with his new book, "But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past." In the book, he conducts mind-bending thought experiments like which rock and roller will people still know, five hundred years from now.

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Awkward

August 21, 2016
(was 12.20.2015)

When was the last time you said something so mortifying that all you wanted to do was crawl under a rock and hide? We've all been through plenty of uncomfortable moments, but it seems like we rarely talk about them. From teenage angst to cringe comedy, this week we're setting aside the shame and reveling in all things awkward.

  1. Awkward Moments Read Out Loud

    For years, the Mortified stage show and podcast has brought people together from all walks of life to share their most painfully awkward teenage moments. The concept is simple -- participants open up their diaries to a packed theater and recount their most embarrassing stories, like a failed first kiss, an unrequited love, or a nightmarish prom date.  

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  2. Our Awkward Age

    What is it about awkwardness that we can't seem to get enough of? Philosopher Adam Kotsko says our fascination with awkwardness is more than about entertainment -- it defines our modern era. He says we live in an age of awkwardness, which he traces back to the social and political turbulence of the 1960s.

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  3. Jesse Eisenberg Imagines An Awkward Introduction

    For a true case study of an awkward situation, just head to the nearest pick-up bar. Here's what not to say when introducing yourself to a potential mate, in the words of actor and writer Jesse Eisenberg.

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  4. The Upside of Awkwardness

    When blogger Jenny Lawson recently tweeted about an awkward exchange she had with a cashier at an airport, she couldn't have imagined the flood of responses she'd get from fans recounting their own mortifying moments. The tweet went viral and within a few days she'd received thousands of messages from fans recounting their own awkward stories. The whole affair was proof of something Jenny had long suspected -- that awkwardness can help bring people together.

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  5. Jennifer Jacquet Recommends 'Last Chance To See'

    Environmentalist Jennifer Jacquet qrecommends "Last Chance to See" by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine.

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  6. Rediscovering Alexander Von Humboldt, The Largely Forgotten Father Of Environmentalism

    Before John Muir - even before Charles Darwin - there was Alexander von Humboldt, the German scientist who shaped our modern understanding of nature. Today, he’s largely forgotten, but Humboldt was once the most famous scientist in the world. Historian Andrea Wulf has just written a biography of Humboldt called “The Invention of Nature,” which The New York Times has picked as one of this year’s ten best books. Steve Paulson recently sat down with Wulf to talk about this remarkable man.  

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