The Middle Distance 1.18.13: The Only Possible Grace

My friend Cate said she squirmed through the first half of Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen’s comedy film The Guilt Trip, seeing a bit too much of herself in Streisand’s character, Joyce, an unrelentingly overbearing Jewish mother.

My sister and I saw the film [...]

Continue Reading

The Middle Distance 1.11.13: All The Light We Used to Have

Nearly every wall of my mother’s house is lined with tables, bookcases, or a chest with drawers. And every time I come for a stay, I go through all of those drawers, one at a time.

Before the sun is up, Mama picks [...]

Continue Reading

The Middle Distance 1.4.13: Blue Nights

Here is an African proverb that showed up in my email inbox on December 31: “Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you [...]

Continue Reading

The Middle Distance 12.21.12: Reweaving the Social Fabric

This week’s mini-blizzard provided respite I’d been hoping for — no appointments, too cold to even think of going outside voluntarily, and streets packed with snow. I stayed in with the dogs, reading and cleaning and baking a dense chocolate cake scented with cloves [...]

Continue Reading


The Middle Distance 12/14/12

Last night on a downtown street, someone busted out the front passenger window of my car to dig around inside it. Whoever it was — a passerby who, conveniently, had a brick or a big rock in his hand — found a wallet stuffed with essential identification, [...]

Continue Reading

The Middle Distance 12.7.12: The Image Becomes a Phantom

In her treatise on photography, Susan Sontag said, “Today everything exists to end in a photograph.” Witness any public event in the 21st century, crowd members’ arms extended outward with smartphones pointed in every direction and understand how prophetic that statement was way back in [...]

Continue Reading

The Middle Distance 11.30.12: Unknown Woman

She resides in a painting — a simple stretched canvas, unframed — emerging from a slate blue background, her hair and dress the same silver-gray. Her breasts sag low, as if from the natural weight of years.

She hung in a corner of the bedroom wherever I lived [...]

Continue Reading

The Middle Distance 11.16.12: The Scent of Smoke

It is nearly Thanksgiving and in the early mornings my turn-of-the-20th century neighborhood smells like wood smoke. Nights are cold, the neighbors cranking up their fireplaces and wood stoves. A deadly summer wildfire season has put the fear of God and flame in most [...]

Continue Reading

The Middle Distance 11.9.12: “Honey, It’s Jest Foo-ood”

In a parallel life, I think I might have been a cafeteria lady, baking industrial sized trays of yeast rolls every morning in a stainless steel kitchen, ladeling out clouds of mashed potatoes and smothering them with milk gravy.
Last Sunday I spent [...]

Continue Reading

In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn wonders where to best place her worry during the Frankenstorm.

Continue Reading

In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn embraces the obsessive mathematics of aging.

Continue Reading

In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn tugs at the long tail of gun violence and its current literature.

Continue Reading

In this week’s Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn ruminates on the struggle for faith.

Continue Reading

In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn gathers seeds from her garden and remembers the autumn of her twins’ birth.

Continue Reading

In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn celebrates locavore and farmer Dan Hobbs on the occasion of his Palmer Land Trust Conservation Award.

Continue Reading

In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn sees her late sister through the eyes of a ghost costume.

Continue Reading

In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn walks back into her second grade classroom.

Continue Reading

In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn unearths a moment in civil rights history that happened right under her nose.

Continue Reading

In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn looks through the blurry lens of a toy camera into the past.

Continue Reading

In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn stares into the eyes of a toothless flasher in a dirty raincoat.

Continue Reading

In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn spreads her toes across years of shoeless memories.

Continue Reading

In this week’s episode of The Middle Distance, Kathryn Eastburn ties two summer films together with the unlikely string of far-fetched fantasy.

Continue Reading


(Cybil Shepherd, center, after winning the Miss Teenage Mephmis Pageant in 1966)

The Middle Distance 8.5.11: What Was I Thinking?

What was I thinking? I was 15 years old and had moved with my family from the small town of Jackson to the big city of Memphis. I didn’t know anyone, [...]

Continue Reading

News

April 23, 2014 | NPR · According to reports, the FCC is set to approve a system in which Internet service providers offer a faster pipe to American homes to content companies willing to pay for it.
 

AFP/Getty Images
April 23, 2014 | NPR · On the first leg of his Asian tour, the president stopped by the iconic sushi restaurant. David Gelb, who directed a documentary about the restaurant, says eating there is amazing and nerve-wracking.
 

Courtesy of Gilead Sciences
April 23, 2014 | NPR · Sovaldi has been found to be remarkably effective in curing most patients with common forms of hepatitis C in a matter of months. But the clinical success comes at a high price.
 

Arts & Life

AP
April 23, 2014 | NPR · The Mexican-born Kenyan actress has been lauded for her looks, her impeccable fashion sense, and her humility. Now People says she’s the most beautiful woman in the world.
 

Netflix
April 23, 2014 | NPR · Now that it’s more common to see gay characters on TV, is the medium turning to transgender people for fresh stories? NPR’s Neda Ulaby looks at TV’s crop of transgender and “gender fluid” characters.
 

Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
April 23, 2014 | NPR · What hath the Bard wrought? A legacy of words and idioms you’ll recognize from pop culture and even your own speech. On the occasion of his 450th birthday, Ask Me Another presents this handy glossary.
 

Music

Mountain Stage
April 23, 2014 | NPR · The musician skates across styles with ease, channeling cabaret crooners and eccentric singer-songwriters alike. Here, she plays songs from an upcoming project that remains unreleased.
 

Retweeted by @sanverde via Instagram
April 23, 2014 | NPR · While visiting Tokyo, the pop star posed for photos in front of the highly controversial Yasukini Shrine, which honors Japanese war criminals.
 

YouTube
April 23, 2014 | NPR · The Las Vegas production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest features music by Tom Waits and direction by the usually silent magician Teller, who you can hear speak (!) about the production here.
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab