The Five: Cinderella’s divorce, rethinking possessions and considering life sideways

A collage of three ideas to check out from Steph Curtis
MPR News director of programming Steph Curtis stopped by with an early spring edition of “The Five,” where she recommends things to read, listen to and experience right now. Some of those include (left) the podcast Side Ways with Matthew Syed, "Mank" on Netflix, and “The Charmed Wife” by Olga Grushin.
Courtesy Images from BBC, Netflix and Penguin Random House

MPR News director of programming Steph Curtis stopped by with an early spring edition of “The Five,” where she recommends things to read, listen to and experience right now.

1) Read “The Charmed Wife” by Olga Grushin

Cinderella married the literal Prince Charming. But as Russian author Olga Grushin imagines it, thirteen years later, life is far from perfect. What happens if Cinderella wants out? This is a funny, satirical tale that flips fantasy on its head. Plus: talking mice. 

2) Read How to Practice, an article by Ann Patchett in the New Yorker

This insightful article begins with the father of a childhood friend dying. As Patchett helps her friend go through the belongings the man left behind, she starts to view her own stuff differently. Why did she keep that? What does that object represent? And should she really be holding on to all of it? In her delightful and thoughtful prose, Patchett thinks about her own mortality and how to clear the way for the future. I guarantee it will make you look around your own home with fresh eyes. 

3) Listen to Sideways, a new podcast from the BBC

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Matthew Syed is the host of this new podcast that encourages us to see the world differently. I started with the first episode, which is about Stockholm Syndrome. Syed begins with the history of this peculiar psychological disorder and then reveals something I didn’t see coming. I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s a fascinating twist. I was captivated. Bonus: This series could be great for the teens in your life. 

4) Watch “Mank” on Netflix

Based on the story of Herman Mankowitz, the author of “Citizen Kane,” this movie is a throwback to 1930s Hollywood. It follows Mankowitz, played brilliantly by Gary Oldman, as he races to finish his famous screenplay. It’s a rollicking romp, full of lush black and white cinematography and jaw-dropping performances. I also loved that the screenplay for “Mank” was originally written by director David Fincher’s late father, Jack. That itself felt like a heartwarming detail.

5) Listen to the updated version of Alpine Suite 

The charming backstory behind this whimsical song: British composer Benjamin Britten planned a skiing trip with two musician friends in the 1950s. But when one got injured on the first day of their holiday and couldn’t join the fun on the slopes, Britten wrote her a suite of recorder music to play and practice while she was confined at the hotel. More recently, a Danish recordist teamed with an Iranian-American harpsichordist to re-record the suite.

Bonus from Kerri Miller: Listen to the podcast Alone: A Love Story by CBC Radio

The award-winning memoir podcast written and narrated by Michelle Parise came out a few years ago. I was skeptical that I would enjoy a story about a 37-year-old woman who gets divorced. Did I really need to hear about her adjustments to single life, to being a part-time parent? But I discovered a truly intimate story that felt more universal than I expected. It made me think about how even small decisions in our past can have an oversized impact on who we become.