Episodes
Guest host David Sedaris presents three stories about recollection and redemption.  In “Sibyl,” by Carys Davies, read by Jane Kaczmarek, two lonely vacationers are brought together.  Andre Braugher performs an excerpt from Toni Morrison’s master work,  Beloved.  And a daughter returns home to help her aging father in an excerpt from Rachel Khong’s bittersweet novel Goodbye, Vitamin, performed by Jennifer Ikeda. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Published 10/22/20
Guest host Hope Davis presents three improbable stories: in “The Orange,” by Benjamin Rosenbaum, a citrus fruit rules the world.  The read is John Cameron Mitchell.  In “The Man, The Restaurant, and the Eiffel Tower,” by Ben Loory, performed by Stana Katic, a father’s children conspire to make him happy.  In “I, Gentile,” by David Gordon, performed by Michael Urie, a reluctant Jew falls in love with the wrong girl.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Published 10/15/20
Guest host Kirsten Vangsness presents three stories about hard choices.  In Jac Jemc’s “Trivial Pursuit,” a husband and wife run the gamut of odd couples while trying to construct a social life.  Jordan Klepper kills it.  Renee Jessica Tan offers a thought-provoking response to racial stereotyping, and a great father/daughter story, in “Baghead,” performed by Karen Chee.  And a recent divorcee has nothing to lose in her “Spanish Winter.” But what does she have to gain? Melora Hardin performs...
Published 10/08/20
Guest host Hope Davis presents three shows about food, cooking, and company, curated with the online foodie destination Food52:  "Feeding the Fussy," by Laurie Colwin, performed by Tracee Chimo; "Home Turf," by Kiran Desai, performed by Angel Desai; and "Watkyn, Comma," by Joan Aiken, performed by Sonia Manzano. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Published 10/01/20
Humor writer Simon Rich reimagines a classic joke for The New Yorker. After the reading by actor Michael Urie, Rich talks to host Aparna Nancherla about how this hilarious, and somewhat dirty piece, made it to print and went viral. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Published 09/29/20
Guest host David Sedaris presents three stories about love and constraints.  Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” conjures up a tough but loving mother in a humorous laundry list of dos and don’ts.  She’s brought to life by Hattie Winston.  George Saunders’ story title says it all:  “Lars Farf, Excessively Fearful Husband and Father” takes protectiveness to hilarious extremes.  The reader is James Naughton.  And in Carson McCullers’ “A Domestic Dilemma,” read by Joanna Gleason, a Southern family has a...
Published 09/24/20
Guest host Denis O’Hare introduces two stories about outsiders.  A tutor finds her privileged teenage client mystifying in Kyle McCarthy’s “Ancient Rome,” read by Tavi Gevinson.  In Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Thing Around Your Neck,” a young Nigerian woman comes to America for the first time, and it’s not what she imagined.   The story is read by Condola Rashad.   See omnystudio.com/policies/listener for privacy information.
Published 09/17/20
Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents stories from New York Magazine’s online portal “The Cut,” which combines art, journalism, and the kind of fresh contemporary fiction that speaks to us.  On this show, a woman tries on different identities, as well as clothes, in a dress shop fitting room, in “Fully Zipped” by Shelly Oria, performed by Katja Blichfeld.   A new mother can’t seem to get the hang of breastfeeding in Curtis Sittenfeld’s “Bad Latch,” performed by Justine Lupe.  And Parker Posey...
Published 09/10/20
Guest host Tayari Jones presents stories about rites of passage between childhood and adulthood.  In Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector’s lyrical “The First Kiss,” a young boy has his first brush with the sensual.  Pepe Nufrio is the reader.  A fiery country girl shows a cool city boy the ropes—and a gator—in “Hellion,” written by Julia Elliott, and read by Donna Lynne Champlin. 51 See omnystudio.com/policies/listener for privacy information.
Published 09/03/20
Guest host Maulik Pancholy presents two works about how we look at things.  An independent woman, an IRS auditor, and a dog share a moment—and a poem--in “Yancey,” by Ann Beattie, read by Mia Dillon.  In “The Mappist,” by Barry Lopez, a geographer is on the trail of a mysterious map maker.  Joe Spano reads. See omnystudio.com/policies/listener for privacy information.
Published 08/27/20
Funny and true, this satire first published in 1971 was a bold, early critique of the treatment of LGBT people in the psychiatric profession.
Published 08/24/20
Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents two stories about unusual family members. In Alix Ohlin’s “The Cruise,” a heartsick divorcee travels with her unconventional aunt. Laura Benanti reads.  An elderly dog is “A Permanent Member of the Family,” and a bone of contention, in this Russell Banks story performed by Zach Grenier.
Published 08/20/20
Guest host Hope Davis presents two stories in which strong bonds between women are  evoked, by authors reflecting very different worlds.  In Youmna Chlala’s “Nayla,” read by Rita Wolf, two young women in a traditional community form a friendship.  In Susan Perabo’s “Life Off My E,” the relationship between sisters is reflected through their shared love of Scrabble.  Hope Davis is the reader.
Published 08/13/20
Guest host Jane Curtin presents two stories about marriage.  A theatrical union is subtly tested in Bruce Jay Friedman’s “Any Number of Little Old Ladies,” performed by Blythe Danner and Maulik Pancholy.  And love is stretched thin, but rebounds, in Roxana Robinson’s “In Naples,” read by Betty Buckley.
Published 08/06/20
Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents two stories in which people go overboard to demonstrate their devotion.  In Robin Hemley’s “A Printer’s Tale,” a poet’s boyfriend hijacks a national magazine for her love--and one reader isn’t pleased.  Reader Robert Sean Leonard brings an eccentric trio to life.  In “Oh Shenandoah,” by Maura Stanton, a determined young woman wants to call it quits with her overzealous fiancé.   But they’re in Venice—and there’s this toilet seat problem.  Broadway powerhouse...
Published 07/30/20
A story by the writer Brit Bennett, "Ain't That Good News" is tender, sad, and packs a wallop. You'll be completely hooked. Bennett's debut novel The Mothers made a splash in 2016 (soon to be a movie starring Kerry Washington), the same year she was named one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35.” Her new novel, The Vanishing Half, published in June, is already a New York Times bestseller and has garnered reviews like, "This is sure to be one of 2020’s best and boldest," Elle, and...
Published 07/28/20
Guest host Hope Davis presents three uncanny stories featuring children.  In Simon Rich’s  hilarious “The Baby,” a novelist faces competition from his unborn son.  Jason Mantzoukas is the reader.  A children’s game takes a strange turn in Fiona McFarlane’s “Buttony,” read by Jin Ha.  And Etgar Keret offers up an unusual mother-son story—and lots of calories--in “Crumb Cake,” performed by Andy Richter.
Published 07/23/20
Guest host Maulik Pancholy presents a show about the past, the future, and how time flies.  A young actor recalls critical moments in her childhood in Elizabeth Strout’s “Snow Blind,” read by Melora Hardin.  Old schoolmates almost hook up in Joyce Carol Oates’ “August Evening,” read by Sonia Manzano.   In our final story, a lifetime goes by in “Half a Day,” by Naguib Mahfooz, read by Bruce Altman.
Published 07/16/20
Guest host Hope Davis presents a program of Italian short fiction selected by the novelist and short-story writer Jhumpa Lahiri.  The stories were drawn from The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories, which Lahiri edited.  They range from the comic to the fantastical.  In Leonardo Sciascia’s “The Long Voyage,” hopeful peasants try to make it to a mysterious place called “Trenton.” The reader is John Turturro.  A couple hopes to restore pre-World War II elegance in “Invitation to Dinner,” by...
Published 07/09/20
Guest host Tayari Jones helps us to celebrate this American master, who died in 2019.  Her novels, including Beloved, Jazz and Song of Solomon, have become an indelible part of the American canon.  Her fierce, poetic visions earned her the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  She was also an editor, advocate, teacher, and mother.  This program features her essay “A Knowing So Deep,” read by Jones; an excerpt from The Bluest Eye, read by Anika Noni Rose; an...
Published 07/02/20
Mona Simpson is the author of six books including Anywhere But Here, My Hollywood and Casebook. Her Too Hot For Radio story features a therapist, a patient, and one uniquely inappropriate relationship.This story was originally published in Harper’s and selected by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All The Light You Cannot See, Anthony Doerr, for The Best American Short Stories 2019 for which he served as the guest editor. Read by the incomparable Cynthia Nixon, the story can be described...
Published 06/29/20
Guest host Denis O’Hare helps us mark the landmark event that helped give birth to the modern movement for LGBTQIA+ rights in America.  We first hear eyewitness accounts of the riots, drawn from The Stonewall Reader.  Additional works include Perry Brass’s “We Did It”; poems by  Kay Ulanday Barrett; and Gary Eldon Peter’s story “Wedding.”  Readers include Ivory Aquino, Kate Bornstein, Michael Early, Beth Malone, Kay Ulanday Barrett, and John Benjamin Hickey.
Published 06/25/20
Guest host Hope Davis presents two stories in which things get out of hand.  Rumors and recriminations fly in “Belles Lettres,” by Nafissa Thompson-Spires, as rival mothers defend their daughters’ reputations at a posh school--at any cost.  The readers are Eboni Booth, Shalewa Sharpe, and Mary Karr.   And we hear Shirley Jackson’s lighter side in  “About Two Nice People,” in which neighbors seem to be getting mixed messages from one another.  The readers are  Lilli Cooper, Ethan Slater, and...
Published 06/18/20
Guest host Dennis O’Hare presents two unorthodox love stories at a time when we could all use a little love.   British writer Jane Gardam twists Hans Christian Andersen’s tale in a saucy reboot of “The Little Mermaid.”  Her version, “The Pangs of Love,” is read by Jane Kaczmarek.  And Sharon Gless performs “Hat Trick,” by Edith Pearlman, in which four young girls choose husbands by chance.
Published 06/11/20
Guest host Andy Borowitz intros four hilarious pieces featured in his anthology The 50 Funniest American Writers.  James Naughton reads S.J. Perelman’s noir parody “Farewell, My Lovely Appetizer;” Susan Orlean complains about idle tots in “Shiftless Little Loafers,” read by Dave Hill; old-time radio is revealed in Jean Shepherd’s “The Counterfeit Secret Circle Member Gets the Message,” read by Isaiah Sheffer; and one woman’s all-nighter, in Jenny Allen’s “Awake,” read by Jane Kaczmarek.
Published 06/04/20