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 Robert Sean Leonard presents three stories about food, family, and friendship. Secrets are revealed at a Christmas party in Ann Beattie’s “Where You’ll Find Me,” read by Jane Kaczmarek; the narrator of Haruki Murakami’s “The Year of Spaghetti” is using pasta to keep the world away. Michael Imperioli reads. In Marina Keegan’s “Reading Aloud” an elderly volunteer forms a bond with her blind client; Rita Wolf is the reader.
A long marriage and the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of the nuclear age in stories hosted by Wyatt Cenac. Sherman Alexie offers a portrait of the courtship and long marriage of two Native Americans in “Do You Know Where I Am?” read by Keir Dullea. In Donald Barthelme’s “Game,” two paranoid men are sequestered with the atom bomb. David Strathairn reads.
Guest host Jane Curtin talks with Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich of Radiolab about stories they curated for SELECTED SHORTS—Jenny Hollowell’s whirlwind “The History of Everything Including You,” performed by Kyra Sedgwick, and Paul Broks’
“Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” in which a man leaves his own life. Jane Curtin reads. And a young boy tries to stop time in “Getting Closer,” by Steven Millhauser, performed by Isaiah Sheffer.
Shame, longing, and passion lie beneath the surface lives of the characters in these three stories. Guest Colm Toibin talks about respectability betrayed in his story “A Priest in the Family,” read by Lois Smith. In James Salter’s “Dusk,” read by Amy Ryan, a middle-aged woman faces a loveless future with grace, and two couples meet and part over “The Bureau,” in a J. Robert Lennon short read by Kirsten Vangsness.
On this program, two stories about powerful maternal instincts, and hard choices. In Amy Hempel’s “Beg, SI Tog, Inc, Cont, Rep” two women make very different choices about childbearing. The reader is Anika Noni Rose. Guest host Jane Curtin reads Galina Vroman’s “Sarah’s Story,” a provocative retelling of the Old Testament narrative of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac.