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

AP
May 30, 2015 | NPR · In April, Mohamed Soltan, 27, was sentenced to life in prison for his ties to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. He had been on a more than year-long hunger strike.
 

Courtesy of Mary Ellen Mark Studio and Library
May 30, 2015 | NPR · The photographer, who died this week, turned her lens on the marginal people of the world. One of her most acclaimed projects was her series of photos taken in the brothels of Mumbai.
 

AP
May 30, 2015 | NPR · Health officials in South Korea are coming under fire after cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, swelled from one to 13 inside of two weeks.
 

Arts & Life

May 30, 2015 | NPR · Bill Shirer brought stories of war in Europe into American homes. NPR’s Scott Simon talks with Ken Cuthbertson about his new book, A Complex Fate: William L. Shirer and the American Century.
 

May 30, 2015 | NPR · Dutch art detective Arthur Brand helped recover the pieces — including two bronze horses that used to stand outside the Reich Chancellery and which were thought to have been destroyed in the war.
 

Courtesy of Will Hodgkinson
May 30, 2015 | NPR · When Will Hodgkinson was a kid, his father, a journalist, was hit with a bad case of food poisoning. Over the long recovery period, he rethought his life — and decided to join the Brahma Kumaris.
 

Music

iStockphoto.com
May 30, 2015 | NPR · Everything changes — except theme-park playlists, where REO Speedwagon, Journey and Supertramp have never gone out of style. Why is that, exactly?
 

Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
May 30, 2015 | NPR · As men went off to combat in World War II, a group of Southern college women took to the bandstand. Meet the Darlinettes — hear their music and stories from their leader and their drummer.
 

Courtesy of the artist
May 30, 2015 | NPR · The drummer is an NEA Jazz Master who’s played with everybody, including Miles Davis and Keith Jarrett. But for his new live album, DeJohnette called in some hometown pals.
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab