Terry Eagleton Analyzes America

UK scholar Terry Eagleton is one of the most influential literary critics in the world, and the author of over two dozen books. His latest is called "Across the Pond: an Englishman's View of America." Just in time for Fourth of July weekend, he tells us exactly what Brits think of us.

Aisha Tyler Takes the Controls, Talks Epic Fails

In her semi-memoir "Self-Inflicted Wounds," comedian Aisha Tyler shares her most horribly embarrassing moments, from a date-ending sushi mishap to near self-immolation. Our listeners get to learn from Aisha's mistakes, as she answers their etiquette questions.

The adventures of the ‘forgotten’ Astaire

We all know about Fred Astaire. Less well-known is Adele Astaire, and Australian theater scholar Kathleen Riley is trying to change that. Her new non-fiction book is called “The Astaires: Fred and Adele.” Today we overhear her recounting a dinner-party worthy anecdote about the duo’s adventures.

Life advice (and restaurant tips) from activist Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader has made such a career of telling people what to do that his newest book is titled Told You So: The Big Book of Weekly Columns. The consumer advocate, frequent political candidate, commentator, and font of forthrightness gives tips on moderating political discussion, finding the best burger in Washington, DC, staying perky, and, when all else fails, sauntering over to Warren Buffet’s house.

The National Lampoon and reshaping American comedy

Journalist and cultural critic Ellin Stein’s newest book, That’s Not Funny, That’s Sick: The National Lampoon and the Comedy Insurgents Who Captured the Mainstream could be called The Funny Pages. Rico gets the lowdown - and some laffs - from Ellin.

Carl Hiaasen gets real with his favorite reality shows

Carl Hiaasen made his mark writing thrillers. But his recent children's book Chomp, is a coming of age story that doubles as a send-up of reality TV … so we had him bring us a list of his favorite somewhat ridiculous reality shows.

Novelist Colum McCann shares a “Transatlantic” passage

Irish novelist Colum McCann turned more than a few heads with his 2009 work, Let the Great World Spin; it won major accolades, including the National Book Award. This week he flies back into the public eye with TransAtlantic, a novel that uses his signature entwined-narrative style to tell three stories: the first transatlantic airplane flight, Fredrick Douglas visiting Ireland in 1845, and the Irish peace process of the late 1990s - which is where he picks us up in this excerpt.

Living fearlessly in and out of the dojo

When author Susan Schorn decided to learn karate as a way to deal with being an anxious person, she chronicled her journey from novice to double-black-belt in her McSweeney’s Internet Tendency column, “Bitchslap.” Now in her book, Smile at Strangers and Other Lessons in the Art of Living Fearlessly, she explains how lessons learned in the dojo apply to life in the day-to-day world. She gives Brendan a (non-contact) primer.