What unites this program's two rather different stories is that both are tales of deepening insight, stories whose main characters undergo profound and life-altering experiences. The program begins with "The Seventh Man," by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, and it starts with an old fashioned device: On a dark and stormy night, a group of men sit around a circle and tell their stories. The reader is John Shea. In our second tale, Aimee Bender's "The Rememberer," the heroine's lover undergoes a remarkable transformation that changes both their lives forever. The reader is Tony Award-winner Marian Seldes. A brief interview with Seldes follows the reading.
Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents two stories about extreme love. In “Magic and Dread,” an excerpt from Jenny Offill’s novel Dept. of Speculation, a new mother is exhausted and exhilarated. The reader is Kaneza Schaal. Broadway star BD Wong reads the story of the doomed love affair between a Trojan warrior and Dido, the Queen of Carthage, from Virgil’s Aeneid.
Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents two stories about how the rich aren’t like you and me. In Jonathan Franzen’s “Ambition” a wealthy couple’s marriage of convenience unravels. It’s read by Edie Falco. And Mary Louise Parker brings to life an hilariously vain and selfish socialite in Dorothy Parker’s “From the Diary of a New York Lady.”
Fantasy writer Neil Gaiman presents three stories about transformation. Rita Wolf reads Angela Carter’s haunting retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, “The Company of Wolves.” A son hears surprising things about his father in Gaiman’s “Adventure Story” read by John Cameron Mitchell, and Denis O’Hare reads Gaiman’s touching and unsettling tribute to a sci-fi master, “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury.”
Fantasy writer Neil Gaiman hosts a Halloween special featuring two of his own stories and a classic by John Collier. The title says it all in “When We Went to See the End of the World by Dawnie Morningside, Age 11¼,” read by “Criminal Minds” star Kirsten Vangness. Gaiman himself reads John Collier’s eerie “Evening Primrose,” about a secret society that inhabits a large department store. And we finish with another Gaiman, “July Tale,” in which a lovesick husband builds an igloo out of books. Gaiman reads.