All Things Considered | KERA News

All Things Considered

Weekdays from 4 to 6:30 p.m.
  • Hosted by Robert Siegel, Audie Cornish, Ari Shapiro, Kelly McEvers
  • Local Host Justin Martin

NPR's All Things Considered paints the bigger picture with reports on the day's news, analysis of world events, and thoughtful commentary.

Alan Heathcock is the author of the story collection Volt.

Last week, my wife suggested we have a dance floor installed in our family room. She was smiling ear to ear, wiping sweat from her eyes. Behind her, our three kids took turns showing off their moves as Michael Jackson's P.Y.T. blared over the speakers.

The hip-hop band The Roots might currently be the hardest-working band in show business. Five nights a week, it's the house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and is constantly collaborating with other artists. And this week, the band issued its 10th studio album.

Time now for a home-viewing recommendation from our film critic, Bob Mondello. With a new movie version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy opening this week, Bob's suggesting the TV original.

At some point in my youth, I must have known the nursery rhyme "Tinker, tailor/ soldier, sailor/ rich man, poor man/beggar man, thief," but since 1979, the instant someone says "Tinker Tailor," the next two words that occur to me are "Alec Guinness."

Remembering Larry Levan, 'The Jimi Hendrix of Dance Music'

Dec 6, 2011

The audio link above is a radio story for All Things Considered about the late Larry Levan, the producer and DJ whose residency at New York's Paradise Garage between 1977 and 1987 remains the most storied in clubland.

It has become a new and depressing holiday tradition. Every year on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, thousands of human beings stampede into big-box stores searching for "deals." And, every year, by days-end the horror stories emerge on the newsfeed: fights break out among frenzied shoppers or worse, someone gets trampled to death. This year's award goes to the woman who pepper sprayed a crowd of fellow shoppers who were scrambling to get cheap Xbox consoles.

As a boy in a tiny village in Mexico, I loved climbing up to the roof of my family's small home so I could study the stars and dream of becoming an astronaut. Then I discovered Kaliman, a comic-book hero who could unravel any mystery with his powers of telepathy, philosophy and scientific ability. He was fond of saying, "He who masters the mind, masters everything."

These days, memoirs are often the target of contempt. A scathing slam in New York Times Book Review this year inveighed against "oversharing"; and in the New Yorker, the memoirist was likened to "a drunken guest at a wedding... motivated by an overpowering need to be the center of attention." If the narrative deals with socially unacceptable matters like abuse, addiction, family dysfunction, or even poverty, the scorn gets even thicker.

I found The Twin, by Gerbrand Bakker, sitting on a coffee table at a writers' colony in 2009. It carried praise from J.M. Coetzee for its "restrained tenderness and laconic humor," which seemed ample justification for using it to avoid my own writing.

I finished it, weeping, a day later, and have been puzzling over its powerful hold on me ever since. I've recommended it again and again, and while I can't say it's entirely undiscovered — it won the 2010 IMPAC Dublin Award — no one I know ever seems to have heard of it.

When I was a kid, I assumed that in the future things would get better and better until we were all driving flying cars and playing badminton with space aliens on top of 500-story buildings. Frankly, I kind of counted on this happening. But now I don't assume that we'll just keep going up anymore.

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