Guest host Jane Curtin presents two stories about growing up. First, tensions arise at a big Dominican family party in “Fiesta, 1980,” by Junot Diaz. The young teenage narrator likes sparring with his older brother, and thinks his baby sister is cute, but he’s worried about his parents’ marriage and dreads any family outing: “We were a Doomsday on wheels.” Junot Díaz is the author of Drown; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and This Is How You Lose Her. Honors include a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, the PEN/Malamud Award, and PEN/O. Henry Award. Díaz is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The reader of “Fiesta, 1980” is Felix Solis, whose films include “Man on a Ledge” and “Arbitrage.” On television he’s appeared in “The Good Wife,” “Criminal Minds,” “The Sopranos,” and “The West Wing,” among other programs. He’s a member of LAByrinth Theatre Company where he’s originated roles in “In Arabia We’d All Be Kings” and “Our Lady of 121st Street”. He has also performed at the Cherry Lane Theater’s stage in “Havana is Waiting” by Eduardo Machado, and in various Actors Studio productions.
Our second story, John O’Hara’s “How Old, How Young,” was published in 1967, but its setting is the country club world of the 1920s. An Ivy League boy falls for a debutante in trouble and learns something about love and life. O’Hara’s work includes the novels Appointment in Samarra and Butterfield 8, and his pithy short works for The New Yorker on the subjects that, according to Lorin Stein, who profiled him for the magazine, mattered to him most: “class, sex, and alcohol.” These are evident in sweet moderation in “How Old, How Young,” read by Alec Baldwin, whose many credits include 30 Rock, Still Alice, and his podcast Here’s the Thing.