The main character of Claire Messud's novel, The Woman Upstairs, is a good woman. Nora is a 37-year-old elementary school teacher — responsible, kind and reliable. She is also very, very angry.
Her dreams of being an artist have been suppressed; she is seething inside with rage and resentment. But she keeps her anger in until she meets another woman who has everything she does not: a husband, a child and a successful art career. And then everything begins to unravel. As Nora's relationship with the woman and her family deepens, her inner life begins to come out.
It takes a lot of chutzpah to reduce one of the most powerful men on Earth to a pile of fruits and vegetables.
Luckily for art lovers, Giuseppe Arcimboldo had nerve to spare.
Arcimboldo created this unorthodox produce portrait of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II back in 1590. By that time, the Italian artist had been painting for the emperor and his powerful Habsburg family for more than 25 years, so presumably, they'd grown used to his visual jokes. (The emperor has "peachy" cheeks and "ears" of corn, get it?)
NPR's Bob Mondello and Susan Stamberg read excerpts of two of the best submissions for Round 11 of our short story contest. They read Ten Ring Fingers by Tamara Breuer of Washington, D.C., and Ghost Words by Matheus Macedo of Winthrop, Mass. You can read their full stories below and find other stories on our Three-Minute Fiction page or on Facebook.