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 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.
Guest host Jane Curtin presents a celebration of Greenwich Village, with stories by Laurie Colwin (“Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, read by Kelli O’Hara) and John Updike (“Snowing in Greenwich Village,” read by Curtin), and comments by Village denizens Dave Hill, Isaac Mizrahi, Ralph Lee, and Penny Arcade.
Guest host Jane Curtin presents sassy stories about sassy women from the legendary Dorothy Parker, including “The Sexes,” read by Parker Posey and “The Standard of Living” (two secretaries on a fantasy shopping spree), read by Hope Davis. A cranky coffee shop employee with amazing luck keeps them company in Robert Coover’s “Waitress,” read by Sonia Manzano.