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CATHI HANAUER excerpt from Gone

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A husband's disappearance while taking the babysitter home precipitates the crisis in this excerpt from Cathi Hanauer's novel Gone. Eve Adams embarks on a first day of her new normal, fending off inquiries from children surly and clueless, and navigating the too-zen-to-be-mean streets of her artsy Massachusetts town. (9:50)

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ANN LEARY excerpt from The Good House

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Hildy, the narrator of Ann Leary's The Good House, is a descendant of a Salem witch, making her living selling real estate in the fictional Wendover of Massachusetts' Gold Coast. In this excerpt from Leary's novel, Hildy demonstrates her power to judge character, background, and aspiration simply by looking at the landscaping of a seaside mansion. Moving within but also slightly outside the culture of wealth and ambition, Hildy assesses the tensions and anxieties of her surroundings with acerbic wit. (10:07)

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LADETTE RANDOLPH Excerpt from Haven's Wake

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Ladette Randolph's novel Haven's Wake tells the story of a family reunited on the family farm after the death of their patriarch. Set in a Mennonite community in eastern Nebraska, the novel illuminates themes of faith and loyalty, belief and imagination, family and allegiance. In this excerpt, a son discovers the strange clay figures his father was building beside the lake where met his death. (12:35)

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JESSICA KEENER JESSICA KEENER--Excerpt from Night Swim

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Set in affluent Boston surburbia in 1970, Night Swim follows the Kunitz family as tragedy breaks through the country-club lifestyle masking an array of simmering, emotional troubles. (12:52)

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ILIE RUBY Excerpt from The Salt God's Daughter

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Ilie Ruby's novel The Salt God's Daughter tells the story of Ruthie and Naida, a mother and daughter bound by loss, by violence, and by family mysteries. In this excerpt, Ruthie describes a storm that sends her, her mother, and her sister into a desperate escape, even as internal storms continue to pursue this small and vulnerable family. (13:18)

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ROSIE SULTAN Excerpt from Helen Keller in Love

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Rosie Sultan reads from her novel Helen Keller in Love (Viking 2012), specifically, the episode in which Keller first meets Peter Fagan, the man she was to fall in love with. The excerpt offers a vivid sense of Keller's world, in which messages are communicated by signs in her palm, and sounds are felt through vibration. (23:42)

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ANITA DIAMANT Excerpt from Day After Night

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Anita Diamant's novel Day After Night tells the story of four women among the two hundred prisoners of the Atlit internment camp, a prison for “illegal” immigrants run by the British military near the Mediterranean coast south of Haifa. Diamant reads the Prologue and "Waiting" from Part One, focusing in on Tedi, a young Dutch woman prisoner trying to make sense of life in Barracks C. When a train brings new arrivals to the camp, Tedi must resist the urge to remember her home and her lost life, lest the memories overwhelm her. (18:46)

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ANNE COLWELL excerpt from Holy Day

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This excerpt from Anne Colwell's novel Holy Day finds Maxine waking hungover in 1969 to confront her three young children and the challenges that arise from the issues surrounding their birth. Religion, marriage, the ability to be a good mother--these obligations press against Maxine as she remembers the post-McCarthy-era days before her marriage, when even conformity could offer a sense of new beginning. Her decision to convert to Catholicism sets up the complicated balance of independence and loss that both she and her husband now face. (26:33)

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E.R. CATALANO Trying Lessons

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In E.R. Catalano's "Trying Lesson," a young girl's search for Titian in the hair-color aisle is the starting point for more than a superficial transformation. Looking for a sense of home and belonging, the narrator of this excerpt from Catalano's novel-in-progress Becoming the Girl Detective seeks identity through her admiration of Nancy Drew. Perhaps if she can model herself after the girl detective, the narrator can solve the mysteries surrounding her own family. (11:10)

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LESLIE PIETRZYK Lady of the House

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Leslie Pietrzyk's novel excerpt Lady of the House brings a crisis into the already unsettled life of sisters Nettie and Lucy in the Chicago of 1900. At the turn of a new century, with their father recently dead and Lucy newly married, both women face decisions about how to respond to the pressures of motherhood and marriage. Their situation sharpens when a maid introduces a crisis of her own into the sisters' household. (43:07)

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LEAH HAGER COHEN The Grief of Others

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The New York Times Book Review called Leah Hager Cohen "one of our foremost chroniclers of the mundane complexities, nuanced tragedies and unexpected tendernesses of human connection." Her reading of the prologue from The Grief of Others clearly demonstrates why she deserves the label. In this brief opening scene, Cohen describes with microscopic and eloquent detail the features of a newborn and the love his mother feels for him. Cohen raises moving questions about the fragility of life and about the limits of our ability to name the events and emotions of our experience. (8:40)

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MICHAEL KULA excerpt from The Good Doctor

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Michael Kula's novel The Good Doctor opens at the 1917 Wisconsin State Fair where a young veterinarian learns that tragedy has come into his life. With precise and powerful detail, Kula evokes the physicality of the world of David Roberts--both the strength of the body and its vulnerability that becomes all too apparent as the novel begins. (27:41)

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theme: comedy

theme: crisis

theme: relationships

theme: family

genre: essay

novel excerpt

short fiction

poetry

under 10 min

under 20 min

under 30 min

under 40 min
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