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New York

Garth Risk Hallberg's "City on Fire" is a sweeping 900-page story about New York City in the mid-1970s, chronicling everything from the punk music scene to the rise of Wall Street's runaway hedge funds. Hallberg says he's fascinated by the idea of creative destruction.

Code

Machines that program themselves are all around us and they get smarter every day. But are you ready for the master algorithm that can tell a machine how to learn anything?

Are we too reliant on phone apps?

Robots that clean the bathroom, cars that drive themselves, computers that diagnose disease. They may sound appealing, but technology writer Nicholas Carr warns that the new age of automation could mean we'll lose basic life skills.

mic in the booth

Anne Strainchamps talks to podcaster Ann Friedman and radio journalist Susan Stamberg about critiques of female voices.

Ben Marcus talks about another one of the stories he chose for the "New American Stories" anthology — "Going for a Beer" by Robert Coover.

You've probably seen Jesse Eisenberg in films like "The Social Network," "The Squid and the Whale" and "The End of the Tour." But have you read his fiction debut?

against nature

How do you go from producing riveting stories about real people for "This American Life" to writing surreal short stories? Diane Cook is the person to ask.

You see an ad that promises the comforts of a nice suburban home, along with a full-time job. There's just one catch — you only spend half your time there; you spend the other half living in a prison cell. That's the premise behind Margaret Atwood's novel, "The Heart Goes Last," a blend of dystopia and social satire.

boats

Novelist and short story writer Ben Marcus is a novelist and short story writer talks about how the addictive quality of language is a big part of what makes short stories so powerful.

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