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NPR Staff

It's that time of year when colleges and universities send out press releases touting which coveted commencement speakers they've snagged.

Laurel Francoeur's son Jeremy was about a year old when he had his first life- threatening allergic reaction. She took him to the doctor when hives started to cover his whole body. Tests revealed severe allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, soy, sesame and shellfish.

Like many parents of children with severe food allergies, Francoeur faces a host of unique challenges.

"It's a lot of planning," she says. "You have to always plan where you're going, how you're going to eat when you get there. Will the food be safe? Will he have something to eat?"

Lucky Santangelo is a household name — at least, in those households where the shelves are packed with Jackie Collins novels. And considering there are more than 500 million copies sold, well, Santangelo's certainly got a fan base.

Robert Dawson has been photographing public libraries across the country for almost 20 years. And now, just in time for National Library Week, he has published his photos in a new book called The Public Library. It includes reflections on libraries from Dr. Seuss, Amy Tan, E.B. White and others, but the stars of the book are the photographs, from the New York Public Library — which is as splendid as any great European cathedral — to libraries that are housed in shacks and shopping malls.

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Just in time for Easter, food writer Michael Ruhlman has a new cookbook that will likely change the way you think about the egg. At the very least, you may learn how to spruce up your scrambled egg technique.

Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World's Most Versatile Ingredient is a guide to perfecting the most familiar of egg dishes — from poached to hard boiled — but also mastering béarnaise sauce and meringues.

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide: three months of slaughter in which nearly a million people were killed.

As a scholar, Samantha Power wrote extensively about the U.S. failure to intervene in Rwanda and bring the genocide to an end. Now, as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Power led the American delegation to memorial services in Rwanda this past Monday.

When he was a high school sophomore, Collin Smith was in a car accident that left him a quadriplegic.

Ernest Greene, 50 years Collin's senior, had never met Collin, but he attended the same church. And when he heard about Collin's accident, he decided he wanted to help. He offered to do whatever Collin needed, from taking him to school to helping him shave. And when Collin began college, Ernest went too.

"What made you want to go to college with me?" Collin, now 23, asked Ernest in a visit to StoryCorps in Asheboro, N.C.

The new film Hateship Loveship was adapted from an Alice Munro short story and stars Saturday Night Live alumna Kristen Wiig in a performance that's a far cry from her outrageous characters on the comedy show.

In it, Wiig plays Johanna, a caretaker in Iowa assigned to help a grandfather, played by Nick Nolte, look after his 14-year-old granddaughter, Sabitha. Sabitha's mother died in a car accident when Sabitha's father, Ken, played by Guy Pearce, was driving drunk and high.

Weighing in at more than $1 trillion, student loan debt is now larger than total credit card debt. Morning Edition recently asked young adults about their biggest concerns, and more than two-thirds of respondents mentioned college debt. Many say they have put off marriage or buying a home because of the financial burden they took on as students.

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A new movie makes an unlikely hero out of a violent and reclusive man. Set in small-town Texas, Joe is about a hard-working, hard-living ex-con — played by Nicolas Cage — who's trying to stay out of trouble. He finds that the best way to do that is to not get involved with people — until he meets a teenage boy, played by Tye Sheridan, in need of help.

Online degree programs are proliferating – and many cost a fraction of the price of a traditional, on-campus degree. Massive Open Online Courses, known as MOOCS, are also catching on in the U.S. and around the world.

Perhaps in your attic or basement there is a box of papers — letters, photographs, cards, maybe even journals — inherited from a grandparent or other relative who's passed on. Authors, archivists and researchers have long considered these treasures. The right box might contain a wealth of information about a key historical period or place or person.

But what if that box isn't a box at all? What if it's an ancient laptop? And if we are starting to leave behind an increasingly digital inheritance, will it die as soon as the hard drive does?

From Back to the Future to The Twilight Zone and Doctor Who, the theme of time travel is timeless on the screen and on the page. What is it about time travel that's so darn appealing?

"We all have this idea in our heads that, if only I had said this, if only I had done that — we all want to go back and do something," says Ann VanderMeer. She and her husband Jeff are the editors of the new Time Traveler's Almanac, a giant compilation of time travel stories ranging from classic to very, very modern.

Whooping cough made a comeback in California last year, which researchers have linked to vaccine refusals. And with new measles outbreaks in Southern California, New York and British Columbia, the debate over vaccination is also spreading.

For more than a decade, Dafroza Gauthier and her husband, Alain, have hunted perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. More than 800,000 people were killed in the genocide, most of them members of the Tutsi ethnic group.

Earlier this month, the couple gave testimony against former Rwandan intelligence chief Pascal Simbikangwa in Paris. On March 14, Simbikangwa was sentenced to 25 years in prison for complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity. His was the first Rwandan genocide trial to take place in France.

Investigative journalist and author Matt Taibbi has long reported on American politics and business. With an old-school muckraker's nose for corruption, he examined the events leading up to the 2008 financial crisis in Griftopia. With Gonzo zeal, he described a two-party political system splintered into extreme factions in The Great Derangement.

And in his newest book, Taibbi sets out to explain what he thinks is a strange state of affairs:

The Rwandan genocide left a deep and profound wound. It not only decimated the Rwandan people, it destroyed the nation's political and social structures.

In 1994, after the killing stopped, women made up 70 percent of the population.

They were needed to lead Rwanda's recovery. Rwandan women moved away from traditional roles and joined politics in unprecedented numbers.

Twenty years later, the Rwandan Parliament has more women than anywhere else in the world.

It surely says something about our culture that a single tweet can turn into a major racial incident.

You've likely heard the flap over comedian Stephen Colbert's send-up of Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder's new foundation to help Native Americans.

The controversy erupted when a Twitter account associated with Colbert's show, The Colbert Report, took the joke too far — away from its original context.

The writer Lydia Davis has released a new collection of short stories — and, in her trademark style, some of them are really short stories. Here's "Contingency (vs. Necessity)" in its entirety:

He could be our dog. But he is not our dog. So he barks at us.

And the title story of the collection, Can't And Won't:

Jamika lives in a two-story apartment complex surrounded by a 10-foot-high security gate in San Bernardino, Calif. The yellow paint on the buildings' outside walls is peeling.

She doesn't want to use her full name. She doesn't want too many people to know about her situation.

Jamika and her siblings had to leave the house her family was renting in South Central L.A. when the property went into foreclosure. With money so tight, Jamika moved to San Bernardino, along with three of her siblings.

How To Kill A Character

Apr 5, 2014

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OK. If you're still catching up on your favorite TV shows, let me say it now. You are being warned. There are major spoilers up ahead.

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As part of a series called "My Big Break," All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

Before Ken Jeong was an actor, he was a doctor.

"Internal medicine was my specialty," he says. "General practice with an emphasis on adult medicine."

After a long day at the office, Jeong says he would take to the stage and perform comedy routines as a way to blow off some steam.

Writing a biography of John Updike is a tricky thing: The acclaimed American writer of elegant essays and elegiac novels and short stories may have been a genius, but he was also disconcertingly normal. He liked to drink, but wasn't a drunk; he had two marriages, but wasn't a womanizer; he could be wistful, but rarely depressed. He was a straight, white, Christian man who liked golf.

Violinist Yevgeny Kutik was born in 1985 in the city of Minsk, in what is now Belarus. When he was 4 years old, his parents decided it was time to leave the country and come to America.

We may think of baseball as America's national pastime, but in the 1870s and 1880s there was another sports craze sweeping the nation: competitive walking. "Watching people walk was America's favorite spectator sport," Matthew Algeo says in his new book, Pedestrianism.

In her bestseller Room, writer Emma Donoghue imagined what life would be like for a little boy born into captivity, to a mother who'd been kidnapped and sexually assaulted.

And in her new novel, Frog Music, she's imagined a possible solution to a very real murder, one that took place in California in 1876.

In Wes Anderson's latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, a writer relates the long and twisting life story of a hotel owner. It's about youthful love and lifelong obsession, and while the story is original, there's a credit at the end that reads: "Inspired by the Writings of Stefan Zweig."

Last-minute health insurance shoppers turned up in record numbers Monday, both online and in person at clinics, county health departments and libraries. They were there to sign up for Obamacare on the last official day of open enrollment.

Public radio reporters checked out the scene in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Houston — three of the 36 states that are using HealthCare.gov — as well as in Minnesota, which has one of the most troubled state-run marketplaces.

Congested In Cleveland

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