NPR Staff

"I think there's only one interesting story ... and that's struggle," says writer Thomas McGuane. Loners, outcasts and malcontents fill the pages of McGuane's latest book — a collection of short stories titled Crow Fair. There's a divorced dad who takes his young son out for an ill-fated day of ice fishing; A restless cattle breeder who takes a gamble on a more lucrative and dangerous line of works; A guy who abandons his blind grandmother by the side of a river to go get drunk, and chase after a corpse he's spotted floating by.

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho's new book Barefoot Dogs is billed as a collection of short stories, but it could easily be called a novel. Each piece provides a perspective on one horrific event: the abduction of the patriarch of a wealthy Mexican family by a drug gang.

Throughout the book, readers see how this affects children, grandchildren, mistresses and others, as the tragedy follows the family through exile in the United States and Europe

Los Angeles has been good to Scott Budnick. He arrived more than 15 years ago as an aspiring film producer. He found a home in comedy, and eventually became the executive producer of the Hangover trilogy — the wildly popular, profane buddy movies that are still the highest grossing comedy franchise ever made.

Now, he lives in the Hollywood Hills. He drives a fancy car, lives in a beautiful house and has lots of famous friends.

But in 2013, Budnick decided to leave Hollywood for a very different field: prison reform.

The CSI franchise has a new lead investigator: Special Agent Avery Ryan.

Oscar-winning actress Patricia Arquette plays the head of the FBI's Cyber Crime Division on CSI: Cyber, which premiered this week on CBS.

The unit is called in on cyber stalking, identity theft, even cases involving hacked baby cams and ride-sharing services.

Agent Ryan's character is based on real-life cyber psychologist Mary Aiken, the director of the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre in Dublin, Ireland. She's also a producer on the show.

In today's male-dominated computer programming industry, it's easy to forget that a woman — Grace Hopper — helped usher in the computer revolution.

During World War II, Hopper left a teaching job at Vassar College to join the Navy Reserve. That's when she went to Harvard to work on the first programmable computer in the United States: the Mark I.

Gillian Jacobs, best known for her role as Britta Perry in the comedy television show Community, has directed a short documentary about Grace Hopper titled The Queen of Code.

Two of the comedic minds behind 30 Rock, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, have returned to the world of half-hour comedies — this time, on Netflix.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a new 13-episode series originally developed by Fey and Carlock for NBC, debuted on the streaming service on March 6.

Actress Ellie Kemper plays the title character in the show, which shares 30 Rock's energy, but mines comedy out of a much darker premise: A group of young women escape from 15 years of captivity in an underground bunker run by a doomsday cult leader in Indiana.

When you leave the house, do you ever turn on some music to keep your cat company?

What kind do you choose? Tom Jones crooning "What's New Pussycat?" A ballad by Cat Stevens? Perhaps Al Stewart's "The Year of the Cat"?

Nonsense. Cats don't to want to hear humans singing about them, says composer and University of Maryland music professor David Teie.

Researchers at U.Md. and the University of Wisconsin have teamed up with Teie to make music that was more feline friendly.

One hundred years ago, 128 Americans died among more than a thousand in the sinking of what was then the greatest ocean liner in the world. In response, the U.S. entered World War I.

That's the story of the Lusitania, right? But Erik Larson, one of this country's most successful narrators of nonfiction, now retells the story a lot of people think they know. His new book, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, has an appreciation for the lives that were lost and the impact the ship had on history.

Dame Edna Everage says she's approaching 60 — but from the wrong direction. The housewife and superstar — a creation of Australian comedian Barry Humphries — has been making audiences laugh, weep, have acid reflux, and ruminate deeply on the human experience for six decades.

Now, she's embarked on Dame Edna's Glorious Goodbye: The Farewell Tour, which concludes in Washington, D.C., in April. Dame Edna tells NPR's Scott Simon that she's a "restless sprit" and it's not entirely clear what "retirement" will look like for her.

The luxury liner Lusitania departed New York City en route for Liverpool on May 1, 1915. World War I was raging in Europe, but the passengers on the world's fastest liner were sure they were in no danger — despite a warning from the German Embassy in Washington that "travellers sailing in the war zone on the ships of Great Britain or her allies do so at their own risk." Even the Lusitania's captain, William Turner, said his vessel was too fast for submarines to pose a threat.

Writer and producer John Ridley has spent a lot of his career telling stories about the history of race in America. He won an Oscar for his screenplay for 12 Years a Slave, he's written movies about the Tuskegee Airmen and Jimi Hendrix, and now he's created American Crime, a new TV series about the events surrounding a racially charged home invasion in modern-day California.

Boris Nemtsov was just 37 when Russian President Boris Yeltsin named him deputy prime minister in 1997. Trained as a physicist, Nemtsov symbolized a new generation of young leaders who rose to power in the chaotic aftermath of the Soviet breakup.

But after Vladimir Putin became president, Nemtsov joined the liberal opposition and became an outspoken critic. He was arrested on several occasions, but continued his attacks on the Russian leader.

Health is more than the sum of its parts. Sometimes in surprising ways, factors such as childhood experiences, housing conditions, poor diets and health care access drive who ends up sick — and who does not.

Monopoly can be pretty addictive once you start playing it, right? Well, for author and journalist Mary Pilon, searching for the game's true origins proved just as consuming. She writes:

"In the process of reporting this story, I hacked off over a foot of hair in one anguished swoop, sold off many of my material possessions, was confronted by law enforcement for falling asleep in public places ... found Monopoly money in my linens when doing laundry, fretted about finances, [and] had nightmares about the various aspects of the story. ..."

There's a lot to celebrate in Liberia: The number of new Ebola cases have been declining, kids are going back to school and life is returning to some semblance of normalcy.

Last year, Ebola struck the country and since then, it has killed more than 4,000 Liberians. But among the three hardest-hit countries in West Africa, Liberia has been the fastest at containing the outbreak. Just last week, the region reported 99 new cases of Ebola. Only one of those came out of Liberia.

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