Fifty-years ago, on November 22nd, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot while traveling in his motorcade through Dallas. Kennedy was pronounced dead at 12:30 pm central time that day. By Monday, 45,000 letters of condolence had arrived at the White House. Two months later, nearly 800,000 had arrived -- addressed mostly to Jackie Kennedy and her family. Over the next two years, that number doubled. Handwritten, typed, and cabled, those letters captured the collective grief of the nation and the world and were then filed away for nearly forty six years.
Letters to Jackie, released in 2010, was a compilation of hundreds of those letters by history scholar, UNH professor, author and our guest Ellen Fitzpatrick.
“Letters to Jackie: Remembering President Kennedy” is a new documentary based on her book and features a selection from those letters read by movie and theater actors. The special makes its television premiere on TLC this coming Sunday, November 17th.
Enjoying the Saturday edition of Word of Mouth is like sipping a hot cup of cocoa on a crisp fall day. Rest assured, this is an indulgent cup of public radio goodness, topped with the whipped cream and sprinkles you've come to expect from the WoM team. So why not take a break from raking those leaves for an hour and curl up with us. On this week's show:
Schottenfreude: Need a word to describe your feelings? Perhaps the German language can lend a hand. Ben Schott joins us to share a few new words that borrow from German to add to your lexicon.
Are You Cool?Dan Kois talks about Slate's month long series that investigates what cool is and where the term comes from.
Richard Pryor changed stand-up. He created comedy with no jokes. Instead, he unleashed a parade of street characters rarely glimpsed by white people and mortifying to middle class African Americans. Pryor wrote that the neighbors, whores and winos he saw growing up around his family’s bars and brothels inspired a lifetime of comedic material.
Pryor’s stand-up was outrageously blunt, fearlessly black and openly angry. His talent ran in tandem with episodes of self-destructive, violent, behavior -- often triggered by drug use – which jeopardized his career and endangered his life. Yet, in movies, Grammy-winning albums, and even a short-lived TV special, Richard Pryor’s unapologetically irreverent comedy crossed over to capture a huge American audience; Brothers Dave and Joe Henry among them. Dave is a screenwriter, Joe is a singer and songwriter and together they’ve written Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him.
For more than four hundred years, the works of William Shakespeare have given us language to describe the human condition. The Bard’s works have been interpreted on countless stages, film and television adaptations, and pulled apart in classrooms and campuses all over the world. As the theses count and analyses dedicated to Shakespeare continue to grow, a few academics question if there’s anything new to say about Shakespeare. That’s also the title of an article by Matthew Reisz, reporter and features writer for the Times of London’s Higher Education blog, covering intellectual affairs in the arts and social sciences.
Edgar Oliver has a voice you’ll never forget: part Bela Lugosi, part Count Chocula. You may have heard him tell stories of growing up in Savannah in the 1960s, with a smothering, compulsive mother who shared her paranoid, terrified state with her children, Helen and Edgar. His tales of growing up are pulled together in “Helen and Edgar”, a kind of a spoken memoir being performed at Dartmouth’s Warner Bentley Theater at 7:00pm tonight and Wednesday.
Forty-eight years ago writer George Plimpton infiltrated pro-football when he joined the Detroit Lions as a backup quarterback. Plimpton chronicled the experience in his 1965 book Paper Lion. Writer Stefan Fatsis followed in Plimpton’s cleated footsteps when he wrangled his way into the Denver Bronco’s training camp as place kicker in 2008. I spoke with Stefan in 2010 about his short but entertaining tenure in the NFL and his book about the experience called A Few Seconds of Panic.
Stefan Fatsis is a sports writer, a frequent contributor on NPR’s all things considered and a panelist on Slate’s sports podcast, “Hang Up and Listen.”
We turn now to that exemplary literary magazine, Playboy. Hugh Hefner’s magazine has always been about the centerfold and male fantasy and an air-brushed version of female sexuality…but it's also a great read. Really.
In 2005, writer Amy Grace Loyd was hired to revive Playboy’s traditions of stories from the likes of Hunter S. Thompson and short fiction from Margaret Atwood, or that scandalous interview with Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter. Amy was Playboy’s Fiction and Literary Editor for seven years, and she recently wrote in Salon about some of the ribbing she took for a job she loved. She also recently published her first novel, called “The Affairs of Others."
In his book, My Heart is an Idiot, Davy Rothbart chronicles his shocking and sometimes disturbing real life stories about traveling around America, looking for love, and meeting strangers who take strange to a whole new level. He’s also the creator ofFound Magazineand a regular contributor to This American Life.
The Saturday show bring you a spectacular mix of the best of Word of Mouth. On this week's show:
Joyce Maynard stops by the studio to talk about her new novel After Her, and why the last thing she feels is shame when it comes to her decision to discuss her relationship with J.D. Salinger.
Eating Trader Joe's Trash. New Hampshire native and documentary filmmaker Alex Mannis' film Spoils gives a fly on the dumpster account of Brooklynites who forage in the urban jungle of grocery store cast offs.
Say the name "Joyce Maynard" and you’re likely to get some pretty visceral reactions…from those who’ve admired her career since her time as a reporter for the New York Times and her later syndicated column “Domestic Affairs,” and from her detractors…those who are critical of her relentless self-examination and her revelations about her relationship with J.D. Salinger. Salinger was living as a recluse in Cornish, New Hampshire when he began exchanging letters with Maynard after reading an article she wrote as a freshman at Yale. She dropped out of college and moved in with Salinger. She was eighteen…Salinger was 53.
From the youth spent at Philips Exeter Academy that pervades his body of work, through his studies with Kurt Vonnegut at the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop – known for producing authors the like of Pulitzer winners John Cheever and Philip Roth - John Winslow Irving has emerged as a true literary heavyweight, distinctly American of voice, and one of the most influential cultural exports to come out of New Hampshire.
Recounting his relationship with Dungeons and Dragons, David Ewalt writes, “I don’t know if I played D&D because other kids my age thought I was a nerd, or if they thought I was a nerd because I played D&D.” The progenitor of many of today’s role-playing games has gained a reputation for attracting social outcasts and misfits and as a gateway for teenage boys to consider Satan and suicide. Like millions of kids who played twenty-side die in basements and game rooms across the country, Ewalt grew up…and had less time for a game that could suck up the idle hours of youth. He’s among those picking up the old dice bag for a D&D revival. David Ewalt is now an editor for Forbes, and author of the new book Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons and Dragons and the People Who Play It. It hits stores August 20th.