Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents two stories about strange, and strained, relationships.   In James Salter’s “Last Night,” a dying wife has a last supper with a husband and a family friend.  This delicate and moving story explores the toll death takes on love.  Salter, who died in 2015, often explored the hidden emotional lives of his well-bred but constrained characters, although he first achieved renown for a novel about fighter pilots, The Hunters.  His short fiction appeared in the collections Last Night, Dusk and Other Stories, and Collected Stories.  “Last Night” was read as part of RadioLoveFest, a celebration of radio in performance produced by the Brooklyn Academy of Music and WNYC.

Reader Amy Ryan has given Tony nominated performances in “Uncle Vanya” and “A Streetcar Named Desire,”, among other stage work.  Her films include “Gone Baby Gone,” “Changeling,” “Win Win,” and “Birdman.”  On television, she had featured roles in “The Wire,” “The Office,” and “In Treatment.”

The second story on this program was also part of our RadioLoveFest program at BAM.  It’s by Padgett Powell, an author with a quirky sense of humor.  (His novel The Interrogative Mood takes the form of one long question.)   He likes to imagine couples who are misfits fitting together in stories like SHORTS favorite “The Winnowing of Mrs. Schuping,” first published in The New Yorker.

In this case, the title tells all.  “Janis and Dickens” imagines an encounter between the future rock-and-roll great (age 9) and a sort of miniature version of Dickens himself in maturity (“I am not coeval with my time,” he mourns) in the improbable setting of grade school in Texas.

Reader John Cameron Mitchell is no stranger to wild imaginings.  He is the creator and original star of the musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”  Other work includes the films “Shortbus” and “Rabbit Hole.” On television he had a recurring role on “Girls,” and appeared as Andy Warhol in the 2016 season of HBO’s “Vinyl.”


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