culture

A museum in Western Massachusettts has found itself as the focus of a recurrent discussion in the art world: Is it ever okay for a museum to sell some of its works for financial reasons?

For Van Shields, executive director of the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, the answer is a firm yes.

Simon Cocks / Flickr

Florida takes its hits, from late-night TV jokes to, now, even a ranking as the worst state in the nation for a “staggeringly impressive” “awfulness resume,” according to the website Thrillist.

But for all the Flori-duh jokes (that we make, too, but we live here so it’s OK), this is an astonishingly large, diverse, beautiful, interesting and yeah, sometimes staggeringly awful place — and it has produced some remarkable works of literature.

For an entire generation of writers, Michiko Kakutani acted at times as intrepid champion, hated villain or helping hand. But from her perch as chief book critic at The New York Times, the Pulitzer Prize winner rarely left one thing in doubt: her vast influence over the literary world she assessed.

On Thursday, after 38 years, Kakutani announced she is stepping down.

Courtesy of ruthbehar.com

A few years after Ruth Behar and her family arrived in Queens, New York from Cuba in the early 1960's shortly after Fidel Castro took power, they were in an awful car accident that killed five teenage boys and left her in a full-body cast for most of the next year. She was nine years old, and spent her 10th birthday in that cast. 

We've had mangoes on our mind all month. (Stay tuned for an upcoming story about mango chutney!)

Then we remembered Miami Spice month starts Aug. 1. So, to prepare for deals on delicious meals in South Florida, we asked two writers and a chef about their favorite food books. 

Isabella Cueto / WLRN News

It wasn’t at a fancy Calle Ocho hangout or even at a Cuban restaurant that the ten travelers on Cuba One Foundation’s next voyage met. It was at the childhood home of poet Richard Blanco, one of the guides who will be leading the literary trip to Cuba alongside anthropologist and writer Ruth Baher.

In an essay on Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf observed, "Of all great writers she is the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness."

To that double-edged and astute assessment, one can add, she is also the most difficult to catch in the act of tea-time.

This observation might seem irksomely contrarian to the legions of Janeites in hats and bonnets gathered around tea and scones to pay fealty to the novelist on the bicentenary of her death, which falls today.

A world zombified by George A. Romero

Jul 18, 2017
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Susana Vera/Reuters

George A. Romero died on Sunday at the age of 77 after a battle with lung cancer. The Pittsburgh filmmaker was revered as the godfather of the modern zombie film. With "Night of the Living Dead" (1968), he set the rules for zombies that still hold fast today for many films about the undead. You must destroy the brain or remove the head to kill them. And if you get bit by one you become one and then you crave human flesh.

It’s Bastille Day! To celebrate the French national holiday, this week we asked some experts on France and the French language about their favorite books.

Share yours with us — or just tell us what you’re reading – by tweeting us @WLRN.

Travis Cohen, writer

Ever since Peter Minuit bought Manhattan Island from the Native Americans, New York City's character has been defined by money and con artistry. So it is that classic New York stories are always populated by a grifter or two.

Octavia Butler used to say she remembers exactly when she decided to become a science fiction writer. She was 9 years old and saw a 1954 B-movie called Devil Girl from Mars, and two things struck her. First: "Geez, I can write a better story than that!" And second: "Somebody got paid for writing that story!" If they could, she decided, then she could, too.

Christophe Ena / AP

It’s July and if you follow the sport of cycling, you are probably aware that this month belongs to the Tour de France — the sport’s biggest event.

In honor of the tour, we asked some local cycling enthusiasts for their favorite books about bikes.

Share yours with us — or just tell us what you’re reading — by tweeting @wlrn.

Christopher Hamilton, bicycle/pedestrian/transportation coordinator, city of Key West

Wilson Sayre / WLRN

Dominoes. The game is played throughout South Florida and Latin America at parties, in backyards and at parks.

Now, for a few weeks, you can play it in an art gallery in a show with some real Miami flavor.

Pérez Art Museum Miami has a new show called Spots, Dots, Pips and Tiles: An Exhibition About Dominoes, which takes the game as a launch point for art.

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee has been in the news a lot lately. Albee died in 2016, and since then his estate has turned down a multi-racial production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and put his contemporary art collection up for auction for an estimated $9 million.

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