Culture

Arts and culture

As we near Halloween, witches, ghosts and zombies are escaping from our screens and appearing all around us — on store shelves and at costume parties. But the other place scary stuff lives year-round is on the page. We asked some experts about their favorite scary reads.

Tananarive Due, author of Ghost Summer and The Living Blood

As someone who lives with obsessive-compulsive disorder, novelist John Green sometimes feels like his mind is spiraling uncontrollably.

"It starts out with one little thought, and then slowly that becomes the only thought that you're able to have," Green says. "It's like there's an invasive weed that just spreads out of control."

Sometimes, when Philip Pullman is tired or anxious, a floating speck appears in his field of vision. "I first saw it when I was playing the piano and I couldn't read the music because there was a damn dot in the way," he says, as we sit in the pleasantly jumbled living room of his farmhouse in Oxfordshire.

The floating dot will expand into a flickering ring of light, like a miniature, personal aurora. It can happen when he's driving, and he'll pull over to wait it out, or sleep it off when he's at home.

American author George Saunders has won the Man Booker prize for his first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, a polyphonous meditation on death, grief and American history.

Saunders, widely lauded for his short stories, was considered the favorite to win the award. His novel centers on the death of Abraham Lincoln's beloved son Willie and the night that Lincoln reportedly spent in the graveyard, devastated by his grief and lingering by his son's body.

Richard Wilbur, the former poet laureate and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner renowned for his elegant, exquisitely crafted formal poetry has died at the age of 96.

Amy Tan loves jazz and classical music. "I have a Steinway, which was my life's dream," she says, sitting at her grand piano in the middle of her New York living room. When Tan listens to a piece of music, she imagines stories to go with it, so she always listens when she writes.

Never mind ghosts and goblins, zombies and vampires.

Eric Smith

Irene Williams spent roughly 40 years walking most of the length of Lincoln Road, from her apartment at Michigan Avenue to the office where she worked as a stenographer in the Lincoln Building at Washington Avenue. She was a vision in so many bright colors and loud patterns in clothes she made herself. Irene Williams was someone you noticed. 

The only known Leonardo da Vinci painting in private hands is heading to auction.

The portrait of Jesus Christ, Salvator Mundi, was only recently confirmed to be by Leonardo. This piece was thought to be a copy of a destroyed original. And it's still not clear where the painting was, exactly, for more than a century.

I saw Practical Magic the film when I was 14, a little while before I read Practical Magic the book. I loved both, talked passionately about how very different they were from each other, how glad I was that I'd seen the film first so as to appreciate it on its own terms. The film gave me women loving and fighting with and for each other, in a house and garden (and kitchen) to spend the rest of my life lusting after; the book gave me poetry, the names of flowers, and generations of Owens sisters.

If you're into Disney trivia, you might know that Walt Disney's idea for a new theme park in Orlando, Fla., was initially called The Florida Project. That's also the name of a new film set in a world that seems very far away from the magical kingdom: a budget motel where families live teetering on the edge of homelessness.

Miami Herald

Rick Shaw was the voice for tens of thousands of South Florida teens back in the 1960s. For decades that followed, those same teens grew up still listening to Shaw spinning the songs they grew up with. Shaw, whose real name was James Hummell, passed away in mid-September at the age of 78.

WLRN's Joe Johnson had the opportunity to compete against Shaw for years. Johnson worked at Magic 102.7 FM while Shaw was at WAXY 106. Johnson said it was hard to compete against Shaw because of the way he treated people.

This essay is one in a series celebrating deserving artists or albums not included on NPR Music's list of 150 Greatest Albums By Women.

Teresa Frontado / WLRN

It's far from the most important thing you should worry about when preparing for a hurricane — but if you're a reader, you probably thought hard about what book(s) to bring to wherever you were riding out Hurricane Irma.

You're not only choosing what you might read in that time, you are potentially choosing what books you will save from all of those in your home.

Here's what some of WLRN's staffers chose. Share yours in the comments, or tweet us @wlrn.

Teresa Frontado, WLRN digital director

Cortesy SoBe Arts

Here's an idea that a lot of post-Hurricane Irma South Floridians can probably get behind – free, safe, non-polluting electricity for everybody.

That was actually one of the long-cherished dreams of 19th century inventor Nikola Tesla, a groundbreaker in the field of electricity.

Most Americans know something about Thomas Edison and his contribution to the electric age, but not as many are acquainted with Tesla's legacy. Or about how he was ultimately tormented by the thought that his inventions could one day negatively affect the planet.

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