Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents four stories in which boys—and one girl—encounter adventures.
The first “boy” is actually a mouse: E.B. White’s charming, intrepid Stuart Little. White’s children’s classic was originally published in 1945, and its hero is a model of pride and independence, even if he is only a little larger than a dime. The excerpt featured here was read at a celebration of E.B. White’s work presented with First Book-Manhattan. In it, Stuart becomes a sailor. The reader is David Hyde Pierce, best-known for his work on the series Frasier. Other television appearances include a featured role on The Good Wife, and on stage he was nominated for a Tony for his performance in “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.”
James Joyce’s collection Dubliners was first published in 1914, and Symphony Space celebrated the collection’s centenary with a selection from among its fifteen stories, which record the lives of the overlooked—the poor, the mundane, working girls and wandering men. Joyce said that in these works he was using “dear, dirty Dublin” as the “nicely polished looking glass” through which the Irish might view—and redeem—themselves, with the rest of us peeking over their shoulders. He also organized the book as a passage from youth to age, and we hear one of the earlier tales, “Araby,” in which a boy’s first love becomes the source of hope and despair. Reader Malachy McCourt is an actor, author, former barkeep, and all around bon vivant.
One of SHORTS’ regular leading men, Tony Award-winner James Naughton, reads the third story on this show, Andrew Lam’s “The Palmist.” In it, a teenaged boy is offered a free reading by an aging Asian man, and hears something he didn’t expect. Vietnamese- born Andrew Lam is the author of three books, Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora, East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres, and Birds of Paradise Lost. He is a winner of the PEN Open Book Award, and contributes to NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and to Huffington Post.
For our final story, “Flying” by Stephen Dixon, the adventure is a fantastical father-daughter tale. When a young girl accidentally opens the door of an aircraft, the result isn’t mayhem and tragedy, but an airborne ritual of bonding and affection. Dixon’s novels Frog and Interstate were nominees for the National Book Award, and his story collections include the Will and Magna series of stories, The Stories of Stephen Dixon, and Sleep. Reader Thomas Gibson has had featured roles on the television series Chicago Hope, Dharma & Greg, and Criminal Minds.