Saturday, February 25, 2012


Another installment in a series of "Stories About Stories," in which I post segments from This American Life and other sources, about storytelling itself. 

"MARRIAGE AS RERUN: Many couples eventually encounter this problem: One person in the couple trots out the same story over and over, and the other person has to just listen. But what do the stories we tell in front of our significant others mean, and what do the significant others really think of them? Ira talks to three couples about the stories they've each told and heard countless times, and why. One couple is John Hodgman and his wife Catherine Hodgman. Another couple is RadioLab co-host Robert Krulwich and his wife Tamar Krulwich. Robert and Tamar's story, which involves Jackie Kennedy Onassis, was also illustrated by Chris Ware and animated by John Kuramoto in an episode of our television show. (16 minutes)" 

"INSIDE THE ROMANCE INDUSTRY: Robin Epstein visits people who define this thing called love—for a living. She attends the annual convention of the Romance Writers of America. (17 minutes)"

Sunday, February 19, 2012


The third installment in a series of "Stories About Stories," in which I post segments from This American Life (and occasionally other sources) about storytelling itself.

"THE FAMILY THAT READS TOGETHER: The story of a book that changed a family's life, but only temporarily and not for the better. David Sedaris describes what happens when he finds a dirty book in the woods and shares it with his sisters. This story is published in Sedaris' book Naked. (9 minutes)"

"NOTE TWO: FEAR: Sure, kids today are sophisticated. But get them living in the woods for a few days, and they revert to some of the most stupidly primitive forms of entertainment known since the dawn of civilization. Specifically: they love scary stories. Every camp has a camp ghost story. We hear one. And we go with the Sioux cabin of ten year olds as they try an experiment in fear, in the dark, in front of a mirror in their cabin. (7 minutes)."

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Here's the second installment in a series of "Stories About Stories," in which I post stories from "This American Life" and other sources that are about storytelling itself. In preparation for Valentine's Day, these two stories deal at least loosely with romantic love. The first, of course, is about the mother of all "stories about stories," namely "The Arabian Nights." The second is a hilarious take on how reality TV might just have to coax drama into being -- fictional, but somehow I imagine it mimics pretty closely what goes on behind the scenes of reality TV. 

"WHO DESERVES WHAT: The story of The Arabian Nights is actually 350 or 400 stories, depending on how you count them. Many of the stories are stories of impossible love, including the very last story in the whole epic tale—the story of Jasmine and Almond. Mary Zimmerman, a Chicago director who adapted The Arabian Nights for stage, explains the story and reads from it. (5 minutes)"

"GOSSIP: ACT TWO: Chicago writer Rebecca Makkai bring us the story of a reality television producer attempting to gossip love into existence—and just how complicated that gets. This fiction story originally appeared in the journal Crazyhorse. Rebecca is the author of the novel The Borrower, and 'The November Story' is part of her collection-in-progress Music for Wartime. (18 minutes)"

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Here's the first post in a new series, which I will descriptively call "Stories About Stories." The WBEZ radio program This American Life is known, of course, for its excellent stories -- mostly factual, with the very occasional fiction tossed in. In each installment of this series of blog posts, I'll link to one or more This American Life stories that are about stories or storytelling itself. (I may also sneak in the occasional story about stories from other sources.) Meta enough for you? 

"SUPER DUPER: Josh Bearman's favorite story was told to him by his super. It involved these elements: A gas station, a beautiful woman, an orchid, a snowman, Indonesia, and a check for $30,000. But when Josh decided to try and publish the story in a magazine, it changed everything. (13 minutes)"