First I need to talk about the book, because it's not as if Cloud Atlas the movie came from nowhere — and if you think it's only the movie you want to know about, I think you need a context for what's onscreen.
Author David Mitchell writes exquisite pastiches, and Cloud Atlas is in the form of six distinct and enthralling novellas set in six different eras with six different literary styles.
Follow NPR's All Songs Considered (@allsongs) this weekend for reports and photos from the 2012 Moogfest. Check NPR Music next week for concert recordings from the festival and explore our 2011 archive here.
The presidential candidates may not be talking much about Guantanamo Bay, but the U.S. detention center there has been at the forefront of Michelle Shephard's mind for the last decade. The national security correspondent for the Toronto Star has traveled to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, more than two dozen times; she even got enough stamps on her Guantanamo Starbucks card for a free latte.
Whenever I hear someone called a "cult writer," my hackles jump toward the ceiling. It's not only that the phrase calls up images of self-congratulatory hipsters, but that writers who become cultish tend to do so because their work is steeped in bizarro sex, graphic violence, trippy weirdness or half-baked philosophy.
Tom Wolfe wrote his new novel, Back to Blood, entirely by hand. But the author of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Bonfire of the Vanities also says that wasn't entirely by choice — he'd rather have used a typewriter.
"Unfortunately, you can't keep typewriters going today — you have to take the ribbons back to be re-inked," Wolfe tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "There's a horrible search to try to find missing parts."
Stephen Colbert loves music and loves to sing. That's why Fresh Air's Terry Gross asked him to bring a few songs that mean a lot to him and tell her why. For example, as a kid, Colbert discovered his first lesson about character acting through "King Herod's Song" from Jesus Christ Superstar, even though he thought the words were scandalous at first: "Oh, so you are the Christ? You're the great Jesus Christ. Prove to me that you're no fool. Walk across my swimming pool."
On April 8, 2003, in the early days of the Iraq War, the Kachadoorian family found themselves in the middle of a firefight at a major intersection in Baghdad.
They had approached the intersection in three cars and didn't respond to Marines' warnings to stop and turn around; so the Marines opened fire, killing three men and shooting a young woman in the shoulder, not realizing that the people in the car were civilians.
In January, Ava DuVernay became the first African-American woman to win Sundance's best directing award for her second feature-length film, Middle of Nowhere. The film is about a young black woman named Ruby, who puts her life and dreams of going to medical school on hold while her husband is in prison.