Friday, April 15, 2005

"A Perfect Day for Bananafish" by J. D. Salinger

Bananafish are ordinary-looking fish who swim into a banana hole, eat as many as 78 bananas, and then die of banana fever. This story actually has next to nothing to do with "bananafish," but is really about the girl in room 507. She's bored, waiting for the phone to ring. And then there's Seymour... You'll have to listen to understand. Read by Scott Trudell.

If one more person describes J. D. Salinger as "reclusive," we'll, we'll--but there, we've done it ourselves! Well, you already know he's the author of Catcher in the Rye and may or may not have another book he's been working on ever since, somewhere in North America. And that may or may not be everything you need to know about J. D. Salinger.

The not-so-reclusive Scott Trudell is a Shakespeare scholar who will soon be at Rutgers University. He is currently working on a book about Saddam Hussein--for children, no less.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

"Mummified Couple Found in Peatbog" by S. P. Elledge

Across northern Europe and the British Isles, almost perfectly preserved bodies of Iron Age men and women are sometimes dug up by workers in peat bogs. Who were these people, and how did they die? Here's one possible answer. Read by Scoot.

All we know is that S. P. Elledge seems to have been working in America in the late twentieth century. This story is from a long-forgotten anthology.

Monday, April 11, 2005

"Arrangement in Black and White" by Dorothy Parker

Gotham, the 1930s. An elegant cocktail party, buzzing with gossip about the presence of the guest of honor: a real-live "colored" man! Read by Anita Diamant.

"I was born prematurely, which was the last time I was early for anything." Please don't let such famous quips distract from the real talent of that most famous Algonquin Round Table author, Dorothy Parker. That talent lay in "verse," as she called it, her witty book reviews, and most of all in her finely honed short stories. Though her talents were severely compromised by alcoholism, Parker was socially conscious enough to leave her estate to the NAACP.

If you know the novels The Red Tent or Good Harbor, you already know Anita Diamant. She is also a widely known journalist whose books on many aspects of Jewish life and culture are extremely popular. This September look for her new novel, The Last Days of Dogtown.

Happy Birthday to Us!

It seems incredible, but this little Internet exercise has survived one whole month in the harrowing, cutthroat world of podcasting. (Actually, everyone's been extremely polite and helpful.) With no more advertising than being listed in a few podcast directories, word seems to be spreading, and we appear to have regular readers all across the globe--which causes us to be more than a little astonished and extremely grateful. (Our greatest fear, however, is that some non-native English speakers will now be using our unwise pronunciation of certain words.)

To celebrate this first month, we're going to do at last what we should have done some time ago: cut back on the number of our podcasts. Obviously, you can't all keep up with one whole story a day, no matter how much you might want to--and even though we enjoy recording nearly every day, we should probably slow things down a bit. So, we're going to post just once every other day for an indefinite time and see how the "masses" like that. Do you?

You might also notice that we've been including some newer works recently--even some living authors! Now, we don't want to get into any you-know-what kind of trouble, so we want to reiterate that we believe we are protected by "fair use" policies and whatever we read serves to act only as advertisement for the real thing: buying (or at least borrowing) the flesh-and-blood books themselves. Besides all that, this is definitely a not-for-profit enterprise: we only lose money and time by offering you this website. However, if you have any objections to any of our offerings, we will certainly at least consider removing it. (We're not talking about content, which we'll always stand by--but about c*pyr*ght. Please keep those lawyers at bay.)

So, thank you, all our disparate readers and visitors to this site! And thank you, gracious and generous guest readers--you are the true talents here and make this endeavor worth the effort. (Besides, it's been fun.) And if anyone ever wants to leave a comment or drop us a line telling us just how you feel, don't be shy! We do it all for you... and our own egomanical desire to read aloud and actually be heard by someone.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

"Kaspar Hauser Speaks" by Steven Millhauser

Kaspar Hauser was a real person, and he really did undergo the horrific childhood explicated in this story disguised as a lecture to a group of curious German citizens. He was a mystery, an enigma, a riddle, a puzzle that may never be fully pieced together. Millhauser's story is another fascinating fragment to add to all the rest. Read by Scoot.

Don't let Steven Millhauser's Pulitzer for his last novel, Martin Dressler, or the consistent high praise for all his novels since his first, Edwin Mulhouse, fool you--his best work is really in the realm of novellas and short stories, and that is one of the reasons why he is just about our favorite living author. He writes about his childhood in small-town New Jersey; he writes about odd, artistic young men and women in familiar yet strange landscapes; he writes about imaginary lands and legendary people. And he always writes with brilliant detail and love for this marvelous invention called the English language.