Alice Leung has discovered the secrets of bats: how they see without seeing, how they own darkness, as we own light. —Jess Row, “The Secrets of Bats.”
Guest host Robert Sean Leonard presents two pieces about living in the dark. In “I Go Adventuring” Helen Keller describes her visits New York, a city she could sense but not see. Written in 1929, this lively essay reminds us of Keller’s vivid ability to compensate for her compromised senses with intelligence and imagination. Reader Maggie Siff has had featured roles on the television series “Mad Men” and “Sons of Anarchy.”
In Jess Row’s “The Secrets of Bats,” a high school girl in Hong Kong teaches herself echolocation, disturbing and confounding her young American teacher. He discovers that what seemed to be a quirk, is actually a quest. In an interview with Sarah Montague and Elle Brosh (in the segment below) Row says the story was based in part on his own experience in Hong Kong, where he taught after graduating from Yale, but also reflected his growing awareness of issues of translation, not only of language, but of psychic states. And he admits, Hong Kong’s eerie landscape—a vertical city set dramatically against the mountains—lent itself to the hint of the supernatural that edges the story. “The Secrets of Bats” appears in Row’s collection, The Train to Lo Wu; his other works include Nobody Ever Gets Lost and Your Face in Mine. Reader Heather Goldenhersh has appeared on Broadway in “Doubt” among other plays, and her television credits include “Law & Order” and “The Class.” The soundscape was performed by singer Helga Davis.