KWIT

NPR Staff

With the grim milestone of 500 homicides already passed this year in Chicago, police are grappling with a toxic mix of illegal firearms and gang culture.

And social media is added to that mix with gang-affiliated Facebook pages, Twitter handles and YouTube channels. Images of a kid getting beat down or worse are easy to find online.

We all have unlived lives, says writer Margaret Atwood, and for her, that alternate life was becoming an illustrator.

"I started drawing comics as a child," she tells NPR's Audie Cornish.

Atwood grew up reading and enjoying comics and, around age 6, she started drawing a flying cat with wings. But, she says, "I wasn't good enough. I knew people who were good enough and I could tell the difference."

Now, nearly 70 years later, Atwood's cat flies again in a graphic novel called Angel Catbird.

Good novels are like good parties: You get the right mix of people together, and you never quite know what will happen.

In Ann Patchett's new novel Commonwealth, a christening party takes a turn when one guest arrives with a bottle of gin. The gin leads to a wonderfully sloppy afternoon with cocktail mixing, a dancing priest, and two adulterous kisses.

The kisses lead to divorces, and a new blended family, six kids bouncing back and forth between Southern California and Virginia.

It's a classic summertime treat, the kind you might get from an ice cream truck.

It's a sugar cone, in the shape of a taco, filled with light vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate with nuts on top. It's the Choco Taco.

But where did this highly engineered dessert come from?

Jonathan Safran Foer's first novel, Everything is Illuminated, dug into his family's history with the Holocaust. His latest novel explores a different aspect of Judaism.

It's called Here I Am; the title comes from the Bible — the story where God calls on Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. This book is set in present-day Washington, D.C., where a Jewish family goes through a domestic crisis, while at the same time, a geopolitical crisis unfolds on the other side of the world.

If you love movies or just like to follow what's going on in film, then you surely know the name Ava Duvernay. She directed the acclaimed film Selma and made history by becoming the first black woman to direct a $100 million film. She has an upcoming documentary premiering on Netflix called The 13th.

And as if that wasn't enough, she's also busy working on a commissioned film to be featured at the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American History and Culture which opens later this month.

Robert Hoge's new memoir is about his childhood — his first day of school, making friends and learning to ride a bike. But it's also about getting called "cripple," having multiple reconstructive surgeries and teaching himself how to play sports with two artificial limbs.

Hoge was born with deformed legs and a giant tumor between his eyes. "The tumor formed really early during my development," he tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "So it subsumed my nose and pushed my eyes to the side of my head, like a fish, and made a mess of my face, as you'd expect."

The hard line against marijuana is softening all across the country.

Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia allow some form of marijuana use, mostly for medicinal purposes, though a few allow recreational use. And more states could decriminalize marijuana this year. But if you play in the NFL and you use weed it could cost you your job.

Tennessee Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan would like to change that; he would at least like the NFL to look into the health benefits of marijuana in a profession where injuries and ongoing pain is normal.

The StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative records stories from members of the U.S. military who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. This week we hear from Jenna Henderson whose husband died while serving in Afghanistan.

Sgt. First Class Chris Henderson joined the Army right out of high school in 1991. He served in Bosnia and Kosovo before deploying to Afghanistan in 2007 as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. On that tour, he was killed by an IED, when he was just 35 years old.

We can't print the full name of LOLO's new album, In Loving Memory of When I Gave a S***. But the woman born Lauren Pritchard wants you to know that she does still care –- about some things.

"The meaning of the title is, I grew up in a really small town in Tennessee, and it's sort of the buckle of the Bible Belt," she says. "And I always tried to be a good, sweet little Southern girl, but I wasn't. I wasted a lot of energy trying to be what other people wanted me to be, and I can't be anyone but myself now."

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