When Malcolm X was assassinated at 39, his book nearly died with him. Today The Autobiography of Malcolm X — a favorite of President Obama and Justice Clarence Thomas alike — stands as a milestone in America’s struggle with race. The Autobiography is also a Horatio Alger tale, following a man’s journey from poverty to crime to militancy to wisdom.
"this was terrific everyone should listen to this"
Studio 360 looks at the places "where art and real life collide," exploring the creative influence and transformative power of art in modern life through richly textured stories and insightful conversation. Hosted by Kurt Andersen. Get the latest issue or subscribe!
"Stimulating and Diverse - always interesting"
When Malcolm X was assassinated at 39, his life story nearly died with him. Today The Autobiography of Malcolm X — a favorite of President Obama and Justice Clarence Thomas alike — stands as a milestone in America's struggle with race. The autobiography is also a Horatio Alger tale, following a man's journey from poverty to crime to militancy to wisdom. Muslims look to Malcolm as a figure of tolerance; a tea party activist claims him for the political right; Public Enemy's Chuck D tells us, "This book is like food. It ain't McDonald's — it's sit down at the table and say grace".
Part visionary, part mad scientist, and absolute genius, Tesla should be as famous as Edison - but he's been largely forgotten. Kurt talks with Samantha Hunt about her novel The Invention of Everything Else. Then, Tesla's biggest innovation was introducing alternating current as the standard for modern electric power, breaking Thomas Edison's monopoly on DC power.
"Just plain cool"
Karen Hollander is a celebrated attorney who recently removed herself from consideration for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. Her reasons have their roots in 1968 - an episode she’s managed to keep secret for more than 40 years. Now, with the imminent publication of her memoir, she’s about to let the world in on that shocking secret - as soon as she can track down the answers to a few crucial last questions. A resonant coming-of-age story and a thrilling political mystery, True Believers is Kurt Andersen’s most ambitious novel to date, introducing a brilliant, funny, and irresistible new heroine to contemporary fiction.
"very listenable political mystery/ romance"
How did Richard Ford's cat influence his work as a novelist? Creativity is an elusive subject. We enjoy its fruits - movies, novels, paintings, songs - but rarely are we privy to what happens in the creative process. In Spark, Julie Burstein traces the roots of some of the twenty-first century's most influential and creative thinkers, including Joyce Carol Oates, Yo-Yo Ma, David Milch, Isabel Allende, and Joshua Redman. Burstein pulls back the curtain to reveal the sources of these artists' inspiration and the processes that bring their work into being.
"I wanted to like this so much"
The story of a young man in the ghetto who turns to murder was an overnight sensation. Richard Wright set out to confront white readers with the most brutal consequences of racism, and finally lay to rest the stereotype of the passive Uncle Tom — “he literally wanted to create a bigger Thomas,” one scholar argues. But some think Native Son exploited the worst stereotypes of black youth. “Is this giving me permission to go kill white women?” wondered a young Carl Hancock Rux. “Is that what we’re supposed to be doing now?”
Kurt Andersen asks what art reveals about autism. Researcher Blythe Corbett guides Kurt through some of the controversial questions surrounding the disorder. An adult with autism writes a dark satire about the world of special education. When scientists watch movies with autistic people, they begin to understand how they see the world. And Studio 360 listeners go all out for our music video challenge.
Ron Howard's latest film, In the Heart of the Sea, puts us in the whaling ship whose catastrophic sinking inspired Moby Dick. Kurt gets a sneak preview of the future of virtual reality storytelling – and finds the future is a bit disorienting. And the songwriter and musician Son Little plays live.
DT Max talks about his new biography of the late David Foster Wallace. Kurt Andersen asks rockers The Heavy, whose song “How You Like Me Now” is ubiquitous, why generations of Brits have reintroduced Americans to American music. And we find out why pop music has been getting sadder.
In this smart and refreshingly hopeful book, Andersen - a brilliant analyst and synthesizer of historical and cultural trends, as well as a best-selling novelist and host of public radio's Studio 360 -shows us why the current economic crisis is actually a moment of great opportunity to get ourselves and our nation back on track.
As the lead singer of The Gap Band, Charlie Wilson had huge hits – as well as a debilitating drug habit. He tells his story of recovery and rebounding to the top of the charts with the help of Snoop Dogg, Justin Timberlake, and Kanye West in the new memoir I Am Charlie Wilson.
The choreographer Christopher Wheeldon took one of the most famous musicals ever –– An American in Paris –– and interpreted it for the Broadway stage. The African-American poet Terrance Hayes explains why he never really thought about race when he was growing up in South Carolina. And we find out what made Nirvana’s “Nevermind” the last great rock album.
Kurt Andersen sits at the piano with Marvin Hamlisch, the composer of The Sting, A Chorus Line, and other classic scores, in this interview from 2009. Hamlisch, who died this week, knew as well as anyone on earth how to get a melody stuck in your head. The literary shape-shifter Julian Barnes tries to figure out what makes a Barnesian novel. And a middle-aged couple rekindle their romance with tango.
Charlie Brooker was inspired by The Twilight Zone to create his sci-fi series Black Mirror, in which digital technology keeps biting us back in the spookiest ways. And we hear about folklorist Alan Lomax, who brought the blues to a wider audience, but enforced his own kind of musical segregation. And a conversation with the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith about her obsession with David Bowie.
Kurt Andersen finds out how Big Data is helping us decode our culture. The mobile video app Vine brings us six-second dispatches from soldiers in Afghanistan. Thirty years ago, Sue Grafton started a series of novels named for the alphabet, with W if for Wasted out next month. She looks ahead to the end of the series — then, “a long nap.”
Universe not big enough for you? There's always the multiverse – many universes, scattered through time and space. In one world, you might drive a bus; in another, you might be a Formula One racer. If the idea sounds familiar, that could be because it has obsessed science-fiction and comic-book writers for decades. But artists and writers aren't the only ones fascinated by multiples – some physicists think the multiverse could be very real.
The creator of Breaking Bad explains how his feel-bad television series (about a meth-dealing high school teacher with cancer) can inspire so much love from audiences and critics. The pioneering indie rocker John Darnielle, of the Mountain Goats, reveals his soft spot for Black Sabbath. And we visit The Clock, a mash-up film comprising more than a thousand clips about time. It's 24 hours long, and we wouldn’t cut a minute.
Enya started out in her family’s traditional Irish band, Clannad, before she discovered the layered vocal sound that launched her pop career. Plus, the starship Enterprise seeks out new life and new civilizations in Washington, DC. And movie critic A.O. Scott sticks up for all the haters out there.