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.
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.
Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents four works about writing. An independent young woman counsels clueless male novelists in “The Writers Model” by Molly Giles. The reader is Kaneza Schaal. A wife and husband try “Creative Writing” in a story by Etgar Keret read by Girls star Alex Karpovsky. Joan Didion gives away her trade secrets in “On Keeping a Notebook,” read by Parker Posey. And T.C. Boyle dates Jane Austen. Isaiah Sheffer reads.
Guest host Jane Curtin presents four stories by Lydia Davis, a master of short-form fiction in which real-life situations are subtly altered to produce the funny and strange. We hear “Can’t and Won’t,” “If at the Wedding (at the Zoo),” “The Party,” and “The Two Davises and the Rug,” read by Davis, Kaneza Schaal, Cristin Milioti, and Dylan Baker. The final story, “The Egg Race,” is by John Updike. In it, a high school reunion triggers memories and regrets. It’s read by Alec Baldwin.
Guest host Jane Curtin presents three stories about unexpected encounters at night. In Steven Millhauser’s “Claire de Lune,” a teenage boy with insomnia wanders into an all-girl pickup game. It’s read by James Naughton. Comic Wyatt Cenac reads Sherman Alexie’s “Night People” in which a man who can’t sleep visits an all-night manicure parlor. And a young man struggles to protect a loving but alcoholic father in “Luck,” by Richard Bausch, read by Campbell Scott.