In some of the dirtiest places on Earth, author and environmentalist Andrew Blackwell found some beauty. His book, Visit Sunny Chernobyl, tours the deforestation of the Amazon, the oil sand mines in Canada and the world's most polluted city, located in China.
Blackwell says his ode to polluted locales is a bid for re-engagement with places people have shrunk away from in disgust.
Radioactive To Its Core
His first stop was the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster, Chernobyl.
Fans of Star Trek long ago noted that anonymous security officers who accompanied the show's stars rarely survived the experience. Shortly after being beamed down, they would be vaporized, stomped or eaten for dramatic effect. It's a plot device so common that these expendable crewmen became known collectively as redshirts.
In his novel Redshirts, science fiction writer John Scalzi follows Andrew Dahl, a similarly expendable ensign as he sorts out this life-expectancy issue.
Many of the key scenes in David McGlynn's striking new memoir, A Door in the Ocean, take place at the beach or in swimming pools. McGlynn was a surfer and competitive swimmer in his school days and still squeezes into his Speedos for races like the annual 5K "Gatorman" off the coast of La Jolla, Calif. Ocean swimming, in particular, transports McGlynn to another realm, and he does a terrific job of dramatizing the allure of solitary swims in open water. Midway through his book, he writes:
This week on The Reading Life, meet members of the Melanated Writers Collective, an alliance of writers of color celebrating two years of working together. Kelly Harris and Neil Ranu talk about the importance of writerly support. And Linda Prout gives an update on the way Little Free Libraries are popping up all over our city.
The Caine Prize for African Writing recognizes an African writer each year for a short story written in English. This year's prize went to Nigerian Rotimi Babatunde for "Bombay's Republic." It's about a Nigerian soldier who fought in Burma during World War II. Host Michel Martin talks with Babatunde and CNN's Nima Elbagir, one of the judges.
From the flowers, to the dress, to the cake, it's easy for brides to get caught up in planning the wedding. But after the honeymoon, a lot of couples ask, "now what?" Wedding Cake for Breakfast features essays by 23 brides in the year after they say "I do." Host Michel Martin talks with co-editor Wendy Sherman and contributor Andrea King Collier.
This week on The Reading Life, Frank Perez and Jeffrey Palmquist talk about In Exile: The History and Lore Surrounding New Orleans Gay Culture and Its Oldest Gay Bar, and Clarence Nero tells us what's in store at the Bayou Soul Writers Conference.
Deval Patrick says he's living the American dream. He's the first black governor of Massachusetts, one of only two ever elected as governor in American history. But he says many Americans feel the dream is under threat. Host Michel Martin speaks with Governor Patrick about his new book, Faith In The Dream.