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.
We reprise a popular show from last season. Guest host Neil Gaiman presents two ironic stories about wish fulfillment. In D.H. Lawrence’s classic, “The Rocking Horse Winner,” a young boy tries to help a family obsessed by money. Fionnula Flanagan reads. And Ben Loory’s provocative story “The Book” imagines an unusual bestseller. The reader is Jane Kaczmarek.
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.
The American master John Updike uncovered the extraordinary in the ordinary in stories written over 50 years. In “Unstuck” a minor mishap strengthens a young couple’s marriage. Guest host Jane Kaczmarek is the reader. Two-time Oscar winner Sally Field reads Updike’s “Playing with Dynamite,” in which an aging man looks back on his life and loves.
A character playing hooky from work gets trapped by “The Lie,” in this story by T.C. Boyle read by Stephen Colbert. Thomas Meehan has a great party in “Yma Dream,” until it turns into a nightmare. Christine Baranski reads. Guest host Wyatt Cenac finishes up with “Pride and Prejudice.” In twenty tweets. Really.
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.