Literature

General Electric dial

Kurt Vonnegut joined his brother, Bernard, at General Electric in the late 1940s. Ginger Strand explains how Kurt's time at G.E. influenced his fiction.

TTBOOK

Shattered by her father's sudden death, writer Helen Macdonald began dreaming of wild hawks.  In an effort to move beyond her grief, she bought and trained a wild goshawk -- one of the world's fiercest birds of prey.   But between the bird and her grief, she became, in her words "more hawk than human."

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

dogtags

Revenge is a major theme in Elliot Ackerman’s debut novel “Green on Blue.” The novel is told from the point-of-view of an Afghan boy named Aziz who’s seeking to avenge his brother Ali.

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.

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

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.

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