Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents four works about love, friendship, and passages through life.

The robust and sassy actress Doris Roberts died in April 2016, and we wanted to honor her by re-broadcasting a great reading of hers.  The story “The Texas Principessa,” was written by her husband, William Goyen, so perhaps he had her in mind in creating the endearingly funny narrator.   She’s trying to tell us the story of the life and death of her best friend, who left a stunning legacy, but she keeps running off the rails.   Doris worked in the theatre and on television for most of her long life.  She’s probably best known for her roles (robust and sassy) on the series “Remington  Steele” and “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

The second work on this show is by SELECTED SHORTS’ late friend David Rakoff.  He was well known for his elegant turns of phrase on public radio’s “This American Life,” and for hilarious, razor-sharp essay collections like Fraud, Don’t Get Too Comfortable, and Half Empty.  But his final work, published after his death, was a surprising epic novel in verse: Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish.

Rakoff’s story follows the intersecting lives of its main characters through an American century.  In the excerpt we’ll hear now, a jilted boyfriend has to give a wedding toast—and it’s a doozy.  The work was read by his friend Jackie Hoffman at an intimate evening celebrating his work in honor of the release of the volume The Uncollected David Rakoff.

Love fares better in the last story on the show, by another Texas born writer, Rick Bass. Bass trained as a geologist, and is a keen environmentalist in his now-home state of Montana.  You can really sense his love of nature in dreamy description young couple’s perfect day on the river.  It shimmers with vivid details and sensual recollections.  Bass’s other works include the novels All the Land to Hold Us and Fiber, as well as the memoir Why I Came West.

Neil Patrick Harris read “The Canoeists” at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.   Harris started his career young as a child actor; his early credits include the series “Doogie Howser, M.D.” and the film “Clara’s Heart.”   He had featured role on the long-running comedy “How I Met Your Mother,” and has also appeared on stage in productions of “Sweeney Todd,” “Proof,” “Cabaret,” “Assassins,” and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”

We conclude this program with another perfect couple, “The Owl and the Pussycat,” from the 19th-century poet Edward Lear’s charming poem.   It’s read here by Bill Irwin and John Lithgow, distinguished actors who don’t mind serving up a little bit of nonsense.

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