Jane Curtin and Radiolab‘s Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich introduce stories about time, love and identity.
The hosts of the storytelling science program Radiolab created a special program at Symphony Space featuring tales in which science and inquiry intersect with ordinary and extraordinary lives. We feature two of those stories on this program. First, Jenny Hollowell’s whirlwind “The History of Everything, Including You” begins with “God or Gods or nothing” and ends with a widow contemplating the texture of her long marriage. Jenny spoke with Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich about the story (“how do you know so much?,” asks the incredulous Krulwich). An attempt to unravel the threads of her own life (Hollowell was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and then had a crisis of faith) which led, both seriously and playfully, “right back to the beginning of everything.”
Hollowell is the author of the novel Everything Lovely, Effortless, Safe. Her short fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train, Scheherezade, and the anthology New Sudden Fiction.
The reader is someone familiar with ambiguous beginnings and endings, the actor Kyra Sedgwick, best known as the star of the long-running crime drama The Closer.
“But that’s not all,” as the television ads say. Abumrad and Krulwich talk next about Paul Broks’ intriguing “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).” Broks is a neuropathologist, and the story (based on a real patient scenario) is from his intriguing book Into the Silent Land. Abumrad and Krulwich like the way Broks’ work—like their own—looks for the interface between science and the human dilemma of purpose and identity. Curtin, who read the story, loved the way it was a recursive system (the narrator is telling us of a story he tells his class, and is then enveloped in his own narrative) that still has “one thread running through it.”
We close with a deceptively simple tale by the often fantastical Steven Millhauser. In “Getting Closer,” a young boy out for a day on the river with his family tries to prolong the moment before everything begins (“The moment’s just ahead of him. This is the time before the waiting stops and he crosses over into what he’s been waiting for.”) As a result, he, like the unnamed narrator in Hollowell’s “The History of Everything,” is given a glimpse of mortality. SHORTS late host and founder Isaiah Sheffer was the reader. LISTEN TO THE SHOW