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WYPR Arts

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DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

In 1921, an ad in The Seattle Times touted a brand new candy called "Aplets," a new confection made "from the finest Washington apples and honey and walnuts." A few years later, Aplets were joined by "Cotlets," a similar candy made from an apricot base. In most of the world, "Aplets & Cotlets" were based on a treat called lokum, a word derived from Arabic, but the British and Americans know it as "Turkish delight."

Is any story more appealing than the paradise disrupted? Read enough campus novels, and you'll think colleges are little idylls rife with tennis sweaters and conspiracy. Green quadrangles, caps and gowns, dim libraries, "a group of red-cheeked girls playing soccer, ponytails flying ... trees creaking with apples ... ivied brick, white spire ..." That's Donna Tartt's The Secret History, the New England campus novel par excellence, fat with exclusion and glamour and wealth and Plato and erudite murder.

I'll be honest; at first, I feared the whole series was a bit of a dodge.

Watching the first episode of Shots Fired — Fox's highly anticipated limited series about a federal investigation into a police shooting in a small North Carolina town — one thing became clear rather quickly.

The shooting, which draws two hotshot investigators from the Department of Justice, involves the town's only black police officer, who kills an unarmed, white 19-year-old.

How are a family mass-murder in 1983, a string of serial killings in 2014, and a present-day crack house connected? One answer in Dan Chaon's disturbing, amazing, masterful new novel, Ill Will by a prison psychiatrist to the novel's protagonist, Dustin Tillman: "When you've been abused in the way you were, you have a virus. And the virus will demand that you pass it on to someone else. You don't even have that much of a choice."

A few days ago, one of my students asked me what I was reading, so I told her about Jean Hanff Korelitz's new novel, called The Devil and Webster. My student's eyes got wider as I finished lightly summarizing the plot, and she said, with some concern about Korelitz: "I hope she's ready for all the angry tweets and emails."

Yeah, I think she probably is.

Critics who write about Zora Neale Hurston always seem to write about her contradictions — and no wonder. The extremes she embodied were manifest in her history, her lifestyle, her work and even her legacy. Born in 1891 — though she habitually subtracted years from her age — she grew up in tiny Eatonville, Fla., receiving no encouragement to develop intellectual pursuits. Yet she became a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance, publishing seven books and dozens of articles, short stories, essays and plays.

The German city of Trier has never been particularly fond of its most famous son, Karl Marx, who helped turn communism into an ideology that changed the course of history.

Conservative and Catholic, the picturesque city on the French border took an ambivalent view of the radical revolutionary, born into a Jewish family in 1818.

Designers are rolling out their spring lines and the runways are looking more diverse than ever. But the comparative abundance of models who are people of color didn't happen overnight.

There was the occasional — very occasional — model who wasn't white in the 50s and early 60s on runways. But African-American models put American couture on the map in 1973 when they walked the runway in France in what's become known as The Battle of Versailles.

The biopic Selena tells the story of Mexican-American pop star Selena Quintanilla Perez, a Tejano music singer who made a rare crossover to mainstream American audiences. The movie debuted 20 years ago Tuesday, two years after the singer was killed by the former president of her fan club.

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