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When we were growing up, eggs were eggs - packed by the dozen in cardboard cartons, consumers weren't all that picky about what they were taking home.  Walk into a grocery store today... And the choices are overwhelming. Today we decode grocery store egg labels.

Plus, a look at an app designed to split restaurant bills by inequality of wages based on gender and race.

On this episode, author, columnist and critic Olivia Laing. Her most recent work, The Lonely City, is part memoir, part searching exploration of loneliness and artists whose outsider experience inspired and fed  their creativity - from seeming social gadfly Andy Warhol to the reclusive Henry Darger. She is also the author of To the River and The Trip to Echo Spring.

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A while ago came the news that the US is in grave danger of a clown shortage. Today we'll get a report from a clown convention and find out why membership is down, but why clowns are still unlikely to completely disappear. 

We'll also talk to a futurist about ectogenesis, or artificial wombs. Often referenced in science fiction, the idea of children being grown outside of a mother's body is inching closer to reality.

Plus, the latest 10-Minute Writer's Workshop with anatomical historian Alice Dreger. 

Alice Dreger is a historian of science, anatomy, and medicine, known for her work studying and advocating for people born with atypical sex disorders. She famously resigned from Northwestern University in protest of academic censorship, and gained some infamy on Twitter for live-tweeting her son's sex education class. We had a delightful chat with her about her writing process in advance of the paperback release of her book, Galileo's Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science.

The Caped Crusade, Dark Heart, & Alexander Chee

Mar 25, 2016
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Today, from TV's campy crusader to the Dark Knight, Batman has been reflected American anxieties and social norms for almost 80 years. We'll explore his appeal as a mere mortal among superhumans, making him a magnet for our heroic dreams. 

Then, the phrase, "if it bleeds, it leads" has long been a critique of journalism, but a new book of pulp-fiction style stories by New England reporters plays up the lurid, sensational, side of following crime. Today, we'll talk to two of the veteran reporters behind Murder Ink.

Plus, a pair of true crime writers comb through the dark fantasies exposed at the trial of Seth Mazzalia.

Tamás Mészáros via Flickr CC /

The phrase, "if it bleeds, it leads" has long been a critique of journalism, but a new book of pulp-fiction style stories by New England reporters plays up the lurid, sensational, side of following crime. Today, we'll talk to two of the veteran reporters behind Murder Ink.

Also today, a look back at the roots of film noir, and a pair of true crime writers comb through the dark fantasies exposed at the trial of Seth Mazzalia.

M. Sharkey

Alexander Chee is a careful craftsman of language. As we came to find out, when we talked to him from Argot Studios in NYC, he is as measured, unassuming and thoughtful in his speech. A retiring man, who prefers to write in transient spaces, he also just so happens to have penned the most hotly anticipated literary novel of 2016 - The Queen of the Night, a sophomore work fifteen years in the making*.

Simon & Schuster

Long-time NPR reporter and five-time author Tom Gjelten recently visited the studios here at NHPR. We, of course, couldn't resist talking to him about his latest book, A Nation of Nations, and asking him for ten minutes.

What's harder to write - the first sentence, or the last?

Logan Shannon

We spoke to YouTube superstar and writer of books Grace Helbig after the publication of her second tongue-in-cheek guide, Grace & Style: The Art of Pretending You Have It. She gave us a glimpse at her writing process backstage at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, NH before a Writers on a New England Stage event.

Chris Bohjalian has written some thrilling novels tackling some tough subjects - Armenian genocide, the ethics of midwifery, and, most recently, in The Guest Room, sex trafficking - but he speaks about the process of writing with humor and aplomb.

What's harder to write - the first sentence or the last?

Sara Plourde, NHPR

Tom Perrotta is the author behind, among others, Little Children, The Abstinence Teacher, and The Leftovers, now a hit HBO drama which he co-writes. Recently, he provided the foreword to a new Penguin edition of The Scarlet Letter. For this episode of the 10-Minute Writer's Workshop, we made a date with him and settled into a corner of Harvard Book Store to ask him about his writing process.

Drew Reilly

Described as "David Lynch for teenagers," award-winning crime writer Megan Abbott. Her latest, The Fever, seemed to make every Best of 2014 list, from the Village Voice, to Amazon, to NPR. Her forthcoming novel, You Will Know Me, is out in July 2016.

We spoke to Megan from Manhattan on a busy NYC New Year's Eve, 2015.

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The term "protest song" conjures up songs from the 1960s...and artists from Nina Simone and Sam Cooke to Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger. If we are living in a new civil rights era, what do protests songs sound like in 2016? We have a playlist and analysis.

Then, we all have baggage. The things we inherit from our childhood that clutter our psyches. What happens when that clutter is actually physical -- from generations of hoarding? We'll hear from a woman who rejected her chaotic upbringing in favor of extreme minimalism, and found that less is not always more.

Public Radio Tulsa

In this 10-Minute Writer's Workshop web extra, author Kate Christensen - novelist, memoirist, foodie. We caught up with her, at the farm in northern New Hampshire she calls home, after the publication of her latest book, How to Cook a Moose.


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Mid-life crises are embarrassing and all-too-common...but surely not among the prudent judges of nation's highest court? On today’s show, a former court clerk's new novel imagines a Supreme Court justice going off the rails.

Then, as millions vow to exercise in the new year, we'll hear about how today's gyms are building personal bathrooms and shower stalls for body shy millennials -- one writer thinks it's absurd for adults to fear getting undressed in front of others.

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No matter how polished, prepped, and put together he or she may be, every presidential candidate copes with an Achilles heel. On today’s show, we'll find out how Marco Rubio capitalized on reaching for the water bottle...again and again and again. Then, need a gift idea for the book lover in your life? We'll go beyond the best seller list for a sampling of the best overlooked books of 2015, including a collection of short stories from Kelly Link.

Andrew Councill / New York Times

Recently, author and famed political satirist Christopher Buckley - son of William F. and the man behind Thank You for Smoking -  spoke with us about his latest novel, The Relic Master. We asked him to give us an inside look at his writing process. The conversation is part of a series we call the 10-Minute Writer's Workshop.

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Garamond, Times New Roman, Helvetica. We use them so often, it’s easy to forget that typefaces are licensed products – and just like other forms of media, they can be pirated and plagiarized. Today, we confront the rampant problem of typeface piracy. Then, the founder of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, urges our inner-writer out of its shell. 

Writers On A New England Stage: Stacy Schiff

Nov 9, 2015
David J. Murray,

On today's show it's Writers on a New England Stage with Stacy Schiff, recorded live at the Music Hall in Portsmouth. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of biographies of Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov, Benjamin Franklin, and Cleopatra, is known for discovering the real overlaid by popular mythologies. Her most recent book takes on the enduring fictions of one of the most confounding and hysterical events in American history: the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

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Thoreau wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.” His two years spent in solitude at Walden Pond left an indelible mark on the national psyche – and cemented the relationship between the inner self and the outdoors. Today, a writer reflects on two years in a cabin in the Vermont woods. Then, first we get rid of all the bosses!  We check in on the online retailer, Zappos, six months after their radical shift – getting rid of managers and declaring a self-organizing workforce. 

Writers on a New England Stage: Salman Rushdie

Oct 16, 2015
David J. Murray,

Salman Rushdie is a Booker-Award-winning novelist and the prolific author of a number of novels, non-fiction books, children’s books, story collections, and essays. He joined Virginia at the Music Hall in Portsmouth to talk about his latest novel, Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights.  It’s a fantasy, a fairy tale for grown-ups, and the book, as he told us at the Music Hall, “...may be his weirdest,” adding, “I’m no stranger to weird.”

Writers On A New England Stage: Diana Gabaldon

Aug 28, 2015
David J. Murray /

On today’s show, it’s Writers on a New England Stage with scientist turned novelist Diana Gabaldon, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Gabaldon is author of the phenomenally popular Outlander series – an addictive blend of historical fiction and fantasy based on the premise of time travel. Outlander plays with the past, overthrows traditional gender roles, and has inspired a cable television series that Buzzfeed called, “The Feminist Answer to ‘Game of Thrones.’ ” Her latest novel is the eighth in the Outlander series, Written in My Own Hearts Blood.

Writers On A New England Stage: Tom Brokaw

Aug 27, 2015
David J. Murray /

Today on Word of Mouth, it’s Writers on a New England Stage with Tom Brokaw, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. As a pillar of network news and the author of “The Greatest Generation” books, Brokaw is beloved as an eye-witness to world-shaping events and much more quiet heroics.  When diagnosed with incurable cancer in 2013, Brokaw did not want the spotlight turned on him.

Writers On A New England Stage: Sue Monk Kidd

Aug 26, 2015
David J. Murray /

On today’s show, it’s Writers on a New England Stage with Sue Monk Kidd, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. The author of The Secret Life of Bees explores the roots of American racism with The Invention of Wings, a novel about the unlikely alliance between a southern woman and a slave.

David J. Murray /

On today’s show, a special presentation of Writers on a New England Stage with David Brooks, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. The New York Times columnist, author, and commentator known as the “liberal’s favorite conservative”, Brooks climbed the ladder of America’s media elite by sparring with civility against left-leaning pundits on TV and NPR.

Writers On A New England Stage: Anne Rice

Aug 24, 2015
© David J. Murray /

NHPR and The Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with author Anne Rice who reinvented a genre when she published Interview with the Vampire nearly 40 years ago.

American author Erskine Caldwell was born in Georgia in 1903. His most famous novel, 1932’s Tobacco Road, boldly addressed the South’s inequalities during the Great Depression.

“He was writing about racial relations when one did not write about racial relations," said Phillip Cronenwett of Dartmouth College in 1989. "He was writing about the difference between the rural wealthy and the rural poor when one did not talk about that sort of thing.”

This week, we’re taking a fresh look at Caldwell, whose writing depicted what he saw as the realities of society – however unpleasant those realities might be.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The year is 1842, and Christopher Robinson, a poor young man living with his family on an island just north of Scotland, has just been accused of stealing his father’s small savings. The real culprit is his brother, who has just fled their small town. As Christopher chases his brother, we encounter a world in which there is a vast difference between the haves and the have-nots, and a cast of characters seeking opportunities for better lives.

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Disasters in developing nations bring out the better angels of foreign governments and world citizens, but not all aid, or media coverage, is distributed equally. On today’s show we discover why the world’s worst disasters don’t always get the most aid.

Then, if you’ve ever binge-watched a show until you feel sick, you may be suffering from: “shoverdose”.  Check your phone obsessively? Well, you may be “figital”. Later in the show, the joys of made-up words.

Rachel via flickr Creative Commons /

The Oscars are Hollywood’s top award for recognizing achievement in film – and of course, fashion. On today’s show: why some actresses are bucking against the red carpet parade.

Then, for most of us, the prospect of winning a million dollars is a daydream, but for Justin Peters, it was just two right answers away. He’ll explain how losing Who Wants to Be a Millionaire changed his life for the better.

Plus, a conversation with artist, writer and filmmaker Miranda July.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.