Guest host David Sedaris presents the three unconventional stories about family ties. In Amy Hempel’s “The Dog of the Marriage,” a discarded wife finds abiding love among seeing-eye dogs. The story was presented at a special evening at Symphony Space celebrating writers and their dogs. Hempel came with a guide dog she was helping to train and talked about the link between these remarkable service dogs and her work.
Hempel is the author of such masterful stories as “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried” (a Sedaris favorite) and has published the collections Reasons to Live, At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom, Tumble Home, The Dog of the Marriage, and The Collected Stories. She teaches at Bennington and Harvard, and among her awards are the Rea Award for the Short Story and the PEN/Malamud Award for Short Fiction.
“The Dog of the Marriage” is read by Joan Allen, a Tony Award winner for her performance in “Burn This.” Other stage work includes roles in “The Heidi Chronicles,” “Three Sisters,” and “The Marriage of Bette and Boo.” Her film work includes Oscar-nominated performances in “Nixon,” “The Crucible,” and “The Contender.”
In the second story on this program, the late New Yorker writer Veronica Geng made fun of traditional wedding announcements in “Partners”, read by Michael Cerveris, Patricia Kalember, and Isaiah Sheffer at the Crandall Library in Glens Falls, New York. Geng was famous for her deadpan satires and wry takes on sex and marriage—one of her collections was called Love Trouble is My Business.
The writer Tobias Wolff has movingly mined the difficult territory of parent-child relations and the harrowing rite of passage of boarding school in such books as his celebrated memoir This Boy’s Life. He revisits these themes in his father-son story “Nightingale,” read by Academy Award-winning actor William Hurt, whose films include “Kiss of the Spider Woman” (Best Actor), “Children of a Lesser God,” “Broadcast News,” “A History of Violence,” and “Into the Wild.”