Guest host David Strathairn presents four works that teach us a few things.

First, Calvin Trillin is a famous foodie, but he’s puzzled about his South African friend’s loyalty to a bony fish called snoek.   Trillin reads “Dissed Fish” himself.  A prolific writer and long-time New Yorker contributor, Trillin’s works include three books later collected as “The Tummy Trilogy,” American Fried; Alice, Let’s Eat; and Third Helpings.

We often feature stories from the annual Best American Short Stories anthology, but ventured into new territory with a pick from Best American Nonrequired Reading 2013, in this case, the editors’ pick for best term paper assignment.  It was presented to students by Kurt Vonnegut, and is read by BD Wong.

Rituals are important, and we use them to mark births, marriages, and deaths.  But the writer and cultural commentator Toure (The Portable Promised Land; Soul City: A Novel; Who’s Afraid of Post Blackness?) felt that there was social niche that needed filling.  Maulik Pancholy reads Toure’s playfully over-the-top story, “The Breakup Ceremony.”  Maulik Pancholy has had recurring roles on the television series “Weeds” and “30 Rock,” among other programs.

Another rite-of-passage by is the school play, but the narrator of Seth Fried’s “The Frenchman” wants to forget all about his. Fried contributes to The New Yorker’s “Shouts and Murmurs”, and his writing has also appeared in Tin House, One Story, Electric Literature, McSweeney’s and The Kenyon Review, among other journals.  His short stories have been anthologized in the 2011 and 2013 Pushcart Prize Anthologies as well as The Better of McSweeney’s Vol 2.   Tate Donovan has appeared on television on shows such as “Damages” and “The O.C.”  His film work includes “Good Night, and Good Luck,” and “Argo.”

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