Guest host Stephen Colbert presents stories with anarchists and oddballs by John Sayles and George Saunders. Fierce old lefties fight everything from the fruit cup to the manager at a banquet in Sayles' "At the Anarchists' Convention," read by Jerry Stiller, and two inadequate men are faced with a rescue in Saunders' "The Falls," read by Rene Auberjonois.
Guest host David Strathairn presents four works that teach us a few things: how to eat a bony South African fish, in Calvin Trillin's "Dissed Fish," which he reads himself. How to write a great term paper according to Kurt Vonnegut. His "assignment" is read by B.D. Wong. How to breakup with your girlfriend, in "The Breakup Ceremony," by Toure, read by Maulik Pancholy. And how to humiliate yourself in public--Seth Fried's "The Frenchman" is read by Tate Donovan.
Guest host Josh Radnor presents three stories about needy people. An online dating service promises to help a guy with really big problem in Ramona Ausubel's "You Can Find Love Now," read by Martin Short and Amy Ryan. Kate Burton is the impetuous mom in Dave Eggers' road story "The Alaska of Giants and Gods." In Aimee Bender's "Loser" a gifted young man can find anything. Linda Emond reads.
Guest host Ruben Santiago-Hudson presents three stories about parallel lives. First, he reads Percival Everett's delightfully subversive "The Appropriation of Cultures." Next, estranged brothers meet at Occupy Wall Street in Fiona Maazel's "We Was Twins," read by Cory Michael Smith. And a feisty retiree doesn't think much of her fellow library patrons in Mary Gordon's "The Epiphany Branch," read by Mary Cleere Haran.
Guest host David Sedaris presents two stories about family pressures. Patricia Highsmith is best known as a thriller writer but "The Door is Always Open and the Welcome Mat is Out" is a wonderful character study of a working woman nervously entertaining a judgmental sister. Tandy Croyn reads. In Tobias Wolff's "Powder," it's a father and son, taking an exhilarating drive in a snow storm. SHORTS late host Isaiah Sheffer was the reader.
Guest host David Strathairn presents three stories in which characters confess: Harris Yulin reads David Rakoff's essay "Isn't It Romantic," about how hard it is to write; James Thurber tells the tale of a family prank in "More Alarms at Night," read by Colin Quinn; and patients spy on their therapist in Meg Wolitzer's "Aout," read by Jill Eikenberry.
Christmas Guests with Guest Host Robert Sean Leonard
Guest host Robert Sean Leonard presents three stories for the holidays. In "One Christmas," Truman Capote visits the father he hardly knew. John Shea is the reader. Grace Paley imagines what happens when a Jewish schoolgirl with "The Loudest Voice" is cast in the Christmas play; Linda Lavin reads. And Isaiah Sheffer reads James Thurber's re-imagining of a famous poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," in the style of Ernest Hemingway.
Guest host David Sedaris presents stories about extremes. The mother in Flannery O'Connor's "The Life You Save May Be Your Own" will go to any lengths to marry off her daughter. Lois Smith is the reader. In Julie Orringer's "Pilgrims," read by Jill Eikenberry, children at a Thanksgiving party develop their own savage rites.