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Wilbur, Richard

A Game of Catch

It’s always a little weird to me to read a sports story, with idioms like “burning one in” that are just so far removed from my patois that I can barely even get my mouth to go in that direction. And it’s equally odd to try and project teenage boy-speak, because it’s been quite a while since I’ve taken an interest in the mannerisms of teenage boys. But it’s springtime, and nothing’s more appropriate than boys and baseball. So here’s a little bit of both, no matter how much “burning one in” seems like the last thing you want a teenage boy to do.

But consider yourself forewarned: this is not a work of jolly maypole-dancing return-to-innocence, though it is appropriate and recommended for young and old, whether in classroom, cabana, cubicle or coffin.

In sadder news, J.G. Ballard has died, and I encourage you to have a listen to this reading of The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered as a Downhill Motor Race. And then you might need to go out and read everything he’s ever read, and thank me for it.

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Categories
Zukofsky, Louis

It Was

I was sitting here eating little sugary hearts with terms of endearment printed on them. They’re pretty popular with the young people, and surely you must know them: cheap things, sort of disgusting in the way that totally fructosified food product is, but sort of terrific for the same reason. And besides, they’re candied hearts, which can’t be that bad. But I stopped to take a look at some of the platitudes printed on them, and proceeded to eat a U GO GIRL, two yellow EMAIL MEs, a GET REAL, a surprising amount of AWE SOME bits, and topped it off with a GOT CHA.

Now, I don’t have that intimate a history with these candies, but I know they’ve been around for a while, and evidently the endearments have changed over the years. But GET REAL and GOT CHA seem more for bleeding hearts, not those of the more sugary variety, and I wondered if someone in the candy factory was trying to tell me something.

Which didn’t stop me from eating the entire bag. Or thinking that had Zukofsky gotten a job coming up with things to print on candied hearts, I’d probably eat a bag every day.

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Categories
Schwartz, Delmore

In Dreams Begin Responsibilities

Well, pilgrims. It’s that day once again when the poisoned blankets of history are celebrated with turkey and squash. And I want to get all excited with you about Delmore Schwartz, and rave a while about how you should be able to listen to the rhythm of his narrative with an almost painful wistfulness for the days when poets were rockstars (even poets with given names like Delmore), and I’d love to get enthusiastically and prattily didactic about the structural inventions in this story and where they allowed fiction “to go” and so on etc ad blatherium. But then I remember: it’s That Day Once Again, and if I get you all excited about a story you might just suffer from some sort of post-tryptophanic hemorrhage before getting to the pumpkin pie, and that would be a disaster.

So maybe instead you should just sit back, undo the button on your bluejeans (but, uh, not in -that- way) and have a quiet listen.

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Roethke, Theodore

Last Class

All week I’ve been wanting to read this to you, waking up more excited than the trashman on the day-after-Christmas, and running into my…. uh… recording studio (read: three paces from the bed) to see if it’s quiet enough.

But it hasn’t been quiet enough. All week there’ve been people, russian sailors doing ballet with cinderblock slippers (if you need some imagery), fewer than ten feet above my head, all day, back and forth and back again.

But today, I could hold out no longer, and instead of waiting for a quiet day, waited for a quiet spell, which was a way shorter wait.

That said, if you listen closely, in perfect silence and with headphones held tight, you may hear with your very own button-ears what I been hearing. Didja??

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Bachmann, Ingeborg

Everything

A caveat for you listeners. Hell, a full-out warning: this is a long one, today’s story, long and, dare I say it, a little dark, and not in the “change the bulb” sort of way. Which is just my way of saying to you: this is not a first-date sort of story, really not, and it’s probably not an endorphinator to be enjoyed on the treadmill. It’s more a story, for you know, rainy nights and whiskey, or something to fill a long silence of a spat with friends or loved ones, or to drown out the sound of a dental drill.

I wonder if anybody’s ever developed Disdain By Association for these stories thanks to listening at the dentist.

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Alfau, Felipe

The Necrophil

While I suspect that some of you might be nursing a yen for happy wishful and firmly resolved pick-me-up for annus novus, be warned that it’s not going to happen with today’s story, with which you should prepared. If, on the other hand, you need a story in preparation for dirtying your hands or drinking too much, consider yourself In Luck.

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Creeley, Robert

Mr. Blue

To offset or maybe just counterpoise the thin slice of news conveyed in the audio introduction to today’s story, which, as has recently been pointed out to this podcastress, might be the most poetic science headline ever:

Moths drink the tears of sleeping birds

Which is fine, so long as they stay far away from these brackish ducts.

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Categories
Brentano, Clemens

The Picnic of Mores the Cat

Today’s is another story by an author of whom I know very little, which I’ve plucked from a collection of Big Guns German fiction including Thomas Mann‘s Death in Venice, Kafka‘s Metamorphosis, Hoffmansthall, Hermann Broch, ad krautium, serious big-league uberplayers, which only deepens the rift in my brow over the fact that I don’t know much about Brentano. The biographical paragraph accompanying the story doesn’t reveal much, but does inform The Reader that “His was a restless, thoroughly unhappy life. Married to a hysterical woman, he divorced her, thus thwarting his subsequent ambition to become a priest.”

Which makes me think that whomever was responsible for penning these blurbs must’ve taken a gripe with Brentano, had unsettled family debt, or was the progeny of the next husband of this hysterical woman, or had had a very bad day. And it also makes Yourstruly a full-blooded Brentano sympathizer.

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Renard, Jules

The Dark Lantern

As you know, there’s not much room on these pages for political soapboxing, both because there are already plenty of internet playgrounds for that sort of thing, and because I’d rather freestyle on such endlessly gripping topics as the weather or this podcast’s sound quality. However. I have an opinion that must be voiced. You know the centenarian who sits in the corner of your office, who doesn’t do much, but who’s generally innocuous, whose very presence is as critical to your environment as the cracks on the walls or the location of your printers? Or the old curmudgeon at your local bar, who’s never bothered to buy you a drink and wouldn’t dare shove over a stool to free up a space for you and your friends, but without whom you’d probably never go to that bar at all?

I’m sure by now you know what I’m talking about. And I’ll say this: I’m not going anywhere near that solar system again until you bring Pluto back. I mean it.

Until then, here is today’s story if you want to read it in French.

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Categories
De La Mare, Walter

The Riddle

The plot of tonight’s story involves a gaggle of young children who go to stay with their frail old grandmother, and who, more or less, are swallowed up by a house that I imagine to be uniformly mothballish and denture-gluey in nature. And I’m disclosing this to you now not so that I might spoil it for you (because I’m sure you’re all remarkably brilliant listeners who are after more than rote high-concept plot anyhow), BUT! If anyone has any advice on how to return the hairs on my neck to their natural supine state, which they haven’t been since reading this, I’d appreciate it. Not that I have many hairs on my neck, because that’s unsightly. But just because today’s is a frightly one. So prepare yourselves.

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