Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson. This week on our program:
We play new music by
young movie star Scarlett Johansson and guitarist Pete Yorn …
And answer a question about the American automobile
company General Motors …
first, a report on a new mystery novel that is breaking sales records in adult
American writer Dan Brown has another mystery in the
bookstores and people are buying the new novel in record numbers. "The Lost Symbol" takes place in Washington,
D.C. over a period of just twelve hours. The mystery is linked to the Freemasons, a secret men's group with an
estimated five million members around the world. Faith Lapidus has more.
Brown's earlier novel, "The Da Vinci Code," was a very popular book.
Doubleday Publishing group released the book in two thousand three. It has
since sold eighty million copies in forty-four languages. It was made into a
popular movie. All in all, "The Da Vinci
Code" made Dan Brown a very successful writer.
that novel did not do, however, was sell one million copies the day of its
release. That honor goes to Mister Brown's third book, "The Lost Symbol,"
released on September fifteenth. By the
end of its first week on the market it had sold two million copies. The
record-breaking sales made "The Lost Symbol" the fastest-selling adult novel in
history. The book entered The New York
Times Best Sellers list at the number one position on September twenty-fifth.
novel re-visits the character of Robert Langdon, the Harvard University
professor from Brown's first two books. Langdon is an expert on symbols. In
this mystery, he is presented with a symbol tattooed on a hand. The symbol itself might not be so
unusual. But the hand has been recently
disconnected from its body.
So begins the novel that takes Langdon hunting and
hurrying around Washington, D.C., through museums, monuments and government
buildings. The professor has a vicious
enemy to defeat, central intelligence agents to outsmart and a friend to save.
That friend is Peter Solomon, the secretary of the
Smithsonian and a Freemason. The
Freemasons are a secret society hundreds of years old with a whole set of
mysterious symbols that only they know.
Book critics have been mixed in their reviews of "The
Lost Symbol." But, the Web site Internet
Movie Database reports that the book is already "in development" to be a movie.
can learn more about other popular authors who spoke at the National Book
Festival on the Special English program "This is America" on Monday.
Our question this
week comes from China. Li Zhiwei wants to know more about the American
automobile company General Motors.
General Motors sold more than eight million cars and
trucks last year. The company does business in one hundred forty countries. It
sells most of its cars in the United States. Other large markets are China,
Brazil, the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia and Germany. General Motors was the world's largest automaker from
nineteen thirty-one until two thousand eight.
Durant established the company in nineteen hundred eight in Flint, Michigan.
Mister Durant had a new idea for a car company that produced many different
kinds of cars. He wanted to offer
different kinds of cars for rich people as well as middle-income people.
used his stock in General Motors to buy other automobile companies. Within a few years he had brought together
more than twenty different automobile and parts companies under the General
Motors name. Many of the companies were
small, weak and in debt.
nineteen hundred ten General Motors had fallen into financial trouble. Bankers were forced to step in to save the
company from financial ruin and Mister Durant was removed from control.
Over the years, General Motors
grew and expanded. The company developed
new and better production methods. And,
it continued to improve its designs, offering customers many kinds of cars.
General Motors became the first
automaker to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. And it was the first
company to make more than a billion dollars in a year.
last year, increasing gas prices and decreasing sales forced the company to
seek billions of dollars in government aid in an attempt to avoid failure. In June, General Motors filed for chapter
eleven bankruptcy. It sought protection
from its creditors while continuing operations. GM was one hundred seventy-two billion dollars in debt.
company is currently reorganizing. It
has sold off its less profitable kinds of cars, closed factories, cut jobs and
closed sales centers.
is continuing to produce its four main brands - Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick and
GMC. The company is mostly owned by the
United States government which has invested billions of dollars. And Toyota Motors now is the world's largest
Yorn and Scarlett Johansson
Actress Scarlett Johansson has gained widespread praise
for her roles in movies. She has been nominated for four Golden Globe Awards
and has won all kinds of honors. Now,
she has another starring role, only this time it is not on the big screen. Steve Ember has more.
"Relator" is the first song from the new CD "Break
Up." Singer and songwriter Pete Yorn plays Scarlett Johansson's leading
man in this musical story about love gone bad. It is Johansson's second album. She made her first album, "Anywhere I Lay My Head," last year.
Pete Yorn is the artistic force behind the "Break
Up" CD. His music first gained
attention when his song "Strange Condition" was used in the
soundtrack for the movie "Me, Myself and Irene."
Yorn says the idea for the album was based on the songs of French entertainer
Serge Gainsbourg and actress Brigitte Bardot. Listen to the nineteen sixties sound of "Search Your Heart."
Yorn wrote eight of the nine songs on the "Break Up" CD. It was recorded three years ago. But he was busy performing. And Johansson was busy working on her movie
career. Then she took time out to record her solo CD. Then she got married to Canadian
actor Ryan Reynolds. And Yorn got to
work on another album. Finally, the
"Break Up" CD arrived in stores last month. We leave you with "I
Don't Know What To Do" from Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson.
I'm Doug Johnson. Our program was written by June Simms
and Caty Weaver who was also the producer. For transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs, go to
voaspecialenglish.com. You can also comment on our programs.
you have a question about people, places or things in America? You can send it to firstname.lastname@example.org we may answer it on this show.
us again next week for AMERICAN
MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.