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This week on The Easy Chair, it’s Family Mad Libs. From our vacation spot in The Hamptons, we play a spirited game of Mad Libs, World’s Greatest Word Game ™. The story we fill in the blanks on is “Let’s Dance”. Joining me is my entire fam- husband Sam, daughter Hannah, son Jake and his wife Jillian Vogel, daughter Rachael and her husband Will Golds…
 
This week on The Easy Chair, it’s a reprise of “The Gift of the Magi,” the classic short story by O. Henry. This small sweet gem of a tale is generally considered a Christmas story, as well as the iconic illustrative example of irony. I would challenge the limits of these descriptions. This story about love and sacrifice is relevant for any time of…
 
This week, it’s Mightier Than the Sword, Holiday Survival Edition, with co-host Stephanie Spaulding! Today we tackle the holidays. It’s a time of gift-giving, holiday parties, and mandatory good cheer. We explore ways to healthily navigate the season. Many of us feel stressed and overwhelmed by the social and fiscal demands of the holidays, and Ste…
 
Today on The Easy Chair, my guest is my daughter Rachael, and we talk about her indie folk band, Honey Magpie, and their second album, which they recently finished recording. Their single, “Undecided”, comes out on January 24th, 2020—and trust me, I’ll let you know when it drops! In our fun and freewheeling interview, Rachael talks about the things…
 
Today on The Easy Chair, it's chapter one of my novel that’s been in progress (or arrested development) for quite a spell. I’ve been feeling very connected to Nantucket, the island I love, and prone to the tug of family, past and present. The Point centers on the Folger-Yurofsky family, who’ve been coming to Nantucket all their lives, to a cottage …
 
This week on The Easy Chair, it’s the iconic short story writer Amy Hempel’s “The Cemetery When Al Jolson Is Buried.” This poignant story is about bearing witness to the final days of a best friend’s life. Full disclosure: I had to record the end four times before I made it through without crying. Also note: there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING even remotel…
 
This week on The Easy Chair, I am happy to share the subversively funny, life vs. art, absolutely all-too-true short story “How to Become a Writer” by Lorrie Moore. Moore’s tone, that of a classic how-to piece providing aspiring writers with a road map of sorts, veers off-course into a very personal narrative of the unique twists and turns of her o…
 
This week, it’s the return of Mightier Than the Sword, with my wonderful co-host Stephanie Spaulding! Between one thing and another, it’s been a while since Steph and I have been able to record together, so this feels like an awesome reunion. We talk about the ideas we’ve had about writing and words, and discuss, individually, the beliefs that have…
 
Today’s Easy Chair episode: “The Patron Saint of Words” with guest poet, artist, radio host, and journalist Karen (K.P.) Ponzio. K.P. reads a very cool article she wrote about the Patron Saints of New Haven project, conceived and rendered by local artist Sara Scranton. With her finger squarely on the pulse of the New Haven art scene, Scranton tappe…
 
Just in time for Halloween, in this episode of The Easy Chair I read “Popsy”, Stephen King’s dark tale of a child abduction in which the tables get terrifyingly turned. Sheridan, a gambling addict, has taking to kidnapping children for a sinister figure named Mr. Wizard. He finds a young boy who is lost at the mall and lures him into his van. The b…
 
This week on The Easy Chair, I read Margaret Atwood’s c. 1975 feminist short story, “Rape Fantasies”. Chatty narrator Estelle describes talking with her co-workers about their rape fantasies and hers. Their fantasies are the stuff of Hollywood movies and magazines, not at all authentic, in Estelle’s view, while hers are real. Estelle is an honest p…
 
This week on The Easy Chair, I read a funny and thought-provoking short story by the late Roald Dahl, "The Great Automatic Grammatizator." For anyone who has ever wondered if there is a can’t fail writing formula, or if maybe, just maybe, the surest route to publication can be accomplished by computer algorithm- this is the story for you. Young Ado…
 
This week, on The Easy Chair, I read the conclusion of “The Fat Girl” by Andre Dubus. Louise has graduated college and now weighs less than her goal weight. She has morphed from fat to thin in less than a year, and suddenly, the world opens up to her in ways she never imagined. The gifts within her reach are the spoils of her self-deprivation, and …
 
Today on The Easy Chair, I read Part One of “The Fat Girl”- a stunning short story by Andre Dubus. Louise has been fat since childhood, furtively secreting away stashes of chocolate candy, which she eats at night, in bed. Then, her college roommate, with the best of intentions, intercedes. After a year of self-denial, Louise’s life changes. She gai…
 
This week on The Easy Chair, it’s Mightier Than the Sword, with my wonderful co-host Steph Spaulding. We’re both back at work in the classroom, and…drum roll, please…so far, we are DOING A-OKAY. Steph’s got a new approach that she shares with us that involves the word joyful, and I’m teaching in what just might be the best school in the world, with…
 
This week on The Easy Chair, it’s the conclusion of Joyce Carol Oates’s stunner of a short story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been”. Arnold Friend has shown up at fifteen-year-old Connie’s screen door, behind which she’s home alone. Suddenly what seemed like a chance encounter at a popular summer hang-out turns into something sinister, som…
 
This week on The Easy Chair, I read the first half of Joyce Carol Oates's brilliant, twisted short story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been.” Connie is a fifteen-year-old girl from a small town, newly aware of her beauty, newly boy-crazy, awakening to life and the pleasures it offers the young and, even more abundantly, the beautiful. It’s …
 
This week on The Easy Chair, I read two funny and fabulous essays by author Anne Lamott from her seminal book on writing and life in general, Bird By Bird. Lamott is smart, self-deprecating, witty, and wise, and what she has to say about the process of writing, about life as a writer, and about just being human is not only enlightening, but genuine…
 
This week on The Easy Chair: “Mary”, second of a two-part series by master storyteller Saul Fussiner. Like last week’s “Shane”, “Mary” is set largely in Ireland. A decade has passed, and Saul and his new wife have stopped in Fahan while on their honeymoon. (The Irish owner of the Connecticut estate /wedding venue was so moved by their ceremony that…
 
This week, I’m joined by writer/storyteller Saul Fussiner. It’s been a minute since Saul has been on the podcast, and the story “Shane” is from Saul’s series of stories connected by times spent in Ireland, “I’ve Heard Those Drums All My Life.” "Shane" is set in the Ireland of the '80s, when Saul and his girlfriend accidentally visit the wrong town …
 
This week, it’s a breezy tribute to the joys of summer reading on Mightier Than the Sword! Co-host and fellow educator (yes, that’s right … I’m headed back to the classroom in September, and you’ll hear about that on the podcast) Steph Spaulding and I weigh in on a few of the books we read over the summer. We offer some critical analysis, what work…
 
This week on The Easy Chair, I read to you the short story “The Knowers” by Helen Phillips. Imagine a world in which every person can decide to find out the date of their death- but they can’t know the circumstance surrounding it. Would you even want this knowledge? What if you were lovingly, decades-long married to someone who emphatically didn’t …
 
This week, it’s another Mightier Than the Sword, with co-host Steph Spaulding. In this episode, we discuss perfectionism, procrastination, and how both behaviors are the downfall of many a good writing practice. Steph describes herself as a recovering perfectionist, while I was once an aspiring perfectionist. Procrastination is something we both st…
 
This week on The Easy Chair, I read a devastating short story by Stephen King: “The Last Rung on the Ladder.” This is absolutely not your typical Stephen King horror story, and it's a tale that you should definitely listen to along with a tall glass of iced tea on one of these hazy summer afternoons. Narrator Larry recounts the story of the long-ag…
 
This week on The Easy Chair, I read a classic short story, which is a tribute to storytelling. “The Open Window” (by Saki, c. 1914) is about Framton Nuttel, a gentleman seeking a place to stay so he can regain his health, which has been compromised by a number of things, including frayed and fragile nerves. Enter Vera, the very creative niece of Mr…
 
This week’s episode: “New Beginnings” with returning guest writer Michele Tenney. In addition to being a fine writer, Michele is a personal trainer, nutritionist, and wellness coach (you can find her at https://elevateptw.com/) and she’s on the podcast with me this week to talk about new beginnings. Michele reads two pieces she wrote for the beginn…
 
This week, it’s back to Mightier Than the Sword, with my wonderful co-host Steph Spaulding. We’re talking about work/life balance, or work/life integration, as we see it. All work and no play makes anyone a dull person, but does all play and no work have a similar effect? I am staring down a big project and I am stressing out over whether I’ll have…
 
This week’s episode: "When Creative Calling Meets Everyday Life" (with Rachael Hurwitz). I’m thrilled and honored to have my talented singer/songwriter daughter Rachael of the indie-folk band Honey Magpie on the podcast for an interview! Rachael answers my questions about keeping the creative fire burning bright, despite the tug of daily life faced…
 
This week on The Easy Chair, it’s Ursula Le Guin’s startling short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”. Le Guin was a brilliant storyteller of mostly science fiction with a cautionary twist- not unlike Margaret Atwood. In this tale, the nation of Omelas sounds like a utopia, populated by compassionate, earnest citizens who spawn golden, happ…
 
This week on the podcast: "Awe, Joy, and Peace" with guest author Michele Tenney. Michele is an inspiration by virtue of the way she lives as well as in the way she writes, and I’m beyond thrilled to welcome her back to the podcast. She reads two wonderful original essays that highlight the ways that our attitudes and perspectives impact our overal…
 
This week on The Easy Chair, I celebrate my 200th episode milestone with an original short story, “Conversant”. Celia is a woman who has been raised by an emotionally abusive mother to believe she’s a terrible conversationalist. After Celia’s boyfriend Joaquin leaves her, she is convinced of the truth of her mother’s words: that she’ll always be al…
 
This week on The Easy Chair, I read aloud another wonderful short story (fitting, as it is officially Short Story Month) by author Thomas Pierce. Pierce gives us a poignant, funny, and illuminating story about Val, a surly, medically fragile twelve-year-old who is obsessed with Pippin monkeys. The story is narrated by his mother’s boyfriend, an aff…
 
This week’s episode is another Mightier Than the Sword, with my savvy co-host Steph Spaulding. We are still on the topic of book group etiquette and strategies. How to choose a book? How do books that are not on bestseller lists make it onto our reading lists? Are book group members obliged to finish a group pick that they struggle with? Many quest…
 
This week’s episode: I am so excited to read yet another stellar short story by the incomparable Zadie Smith, "Crazy They Call Me." This is a gut-punch of a story, a literary re-imagining of the life of Billie Holiday, as recounted by Billie Holiday: reflective, devastating, defiant. “Lady Day” lived a dual life of notoriety and loneliness, and you…
 
This week on The Easy Chair, it’s Mightier Than the Sword! This week I blindside co-host Steph Spaulding with two things: first, a question about the impetus for our writing, and what we love as readers, and second, the way we choose to procrastinate. (For me, it’s the news of the day and Zillow.) It’s a fun and absolutely spontaneous discussion- I…
 
Today on the podcast, I read Roald Dahl’s “Lamb to the Slaughter.” Like all things Dahl, it is part tongue-in-cheek, part macabre, and 100% snarky. Mary Maloney is pregnant and feeling nothing but adoration for her police detective husband Patrick until he comes home from work one night to tell her he’s leaving her for another woman. Oh, and Mary d…
 
Today on the podcast, it’s a fabulous short story by one of my favorite authors, Vladimir Nabokov. In “Symbols and Signs” an elderly couple visit their adult son, who they have committed to a psychiatric hospital, on his birthday. The son’s psychosis, “referential mania” has him convinced the universe is filled with symbols and signs. Everything ar…
 
This week on The Easy Chair, it’s Mightier Than the Sword, with co-host Steph Spaulding! Steph is back from a two-week trip to Marrakech, Morocco. Her stay at a riad was definitely interesting. So much to talk about, from the marketplaces to air quality, food to the cultural customs…all very cool. While there were unexpected elements to her sojourn…
 
This week on The Easy Chair, I am reading Tillie Olsen’s beautifully poignant short story “I Stand Here Ironing”. I am endlessly grateful that I got to hear Tillie Olsen speak at a writing conference in 1981; her wisdom, creativity, and steel tenacity were tangible, even in a vast, crowded auditorium, and deeply influenced me. I don’t think there’s…
 
This week, it’s Honey Magpie II! First, a gorgeous, heartbreaking song about love's devastating disappointment by Pippa Hoover, followed by Pippa’s fascinating explication of her lyrics. Next up: Rachael Hurwitz’s achingly sweet song about the passage of time and the uncertain place we all hold between a remembered past and unclear future. Lots of …
 
Welcome to a two part introduction to the indie folk band Honey Magpie! Rachael Hurwitz, Kati Moore and Pippa Hoover are three talented singer/musicians/songwriters from North Carolina, and in these back-to-back episodes, they visit me at my sweet little Airbnb in Carrboro to talk about their songwriting influences and their backstories and their c…
 
Co-host Jane Gross and I get together again after a too-long break for Heart to Heart, healing wisdom for creative souls (though really, for all listeners)! It’s been a while, and for Jane, life has taken some wild hairpin twists and turns, but always, there’s something to be learned, and Jane shares with you some hard-won insights on grieving, cop…
 
This week on The Easy Chair, it’s a triumphant return to Mightier than the Sword, with my wonderful co-host Steph Spaulding! I’ve been out of town and Steph’s been both hard at work and under the weather, so it’s been a minute since our last MTTS episode, and there’s lots to talk about. I’ve been writing, Steph’s been reading, and this crazy, remar…
 
This week, I read Lauren Groff’s suburban nightmare/dreamscape story “Ghosts and Empties”. A young mother who has become “a woman who screams” walks every night in her eclectic old Florida neighborhood, exiting her house and tying up her sneakers, leaving her husband and sons as they make their way toward sleep. For her, the night reveals many fasc…
 
This week on the podcast, I read my short story, “Orientation”. One memory that stands out for virtually everyone who has experienced going away to college is meeting your freshman year roommate for the first time. Jennifer, a sensitive, determinedly optimistic eighteen year old with a deep need to be liked, has never met anyone quite like Mara- cy…
 
This week on The Easy Chair, “Schoolgirl”, an original short story by yours truly. It’s 1977, the summer of the infamous Model Wars between Eileen Ford and John Casablancas, the heads of the two most powerful modeling agencies in the world. Four young models just starting their careers are sent to Paris- and left to fend for themselves. It’s the st…
 
Today on The Easy Chair, I read a spine-tingling scary story perfect for the thick of winter: “Strawberry Spring” by Stephen King. A serial killer stalks the campus of a small New England college, murdering and dismembering female co-eds. Locals dub him Springheel Jack, a spectral figure who comes in with the fog and ice melt of Strawberry Spring, …
 
Today on the podcast, I read Donald Barthelme’s hilariously morbid short story “School” along with “Five Short Stories”, an unconventional collection of short shorts by Lydia Davis. Hopefully these tales and tidbits will delight and amuse you… and stay with you long after you’ve heard them. Winter is long and cold, dark and dreary, and I believe mo…
 
This week on The Easy Chair, I read Miranda July’s brilliant, quirky short story “Roy Spivey”. It’s about an uncertain young woman who through being “a pushover” finds herself with a first-class upgrade, only to be seated next to a major heart-throb celebrity on a cross-country flight. From their casual flirtation, some very interesting things happ…
 
Aquaponics 101 (with Hannah Hurwitz). Climate change is a true national and global crisis, and one solution to the devastating environmental impact caused by our current way of producing food is aquaponics. What is aquaponics agriculture? (I’ll give you a hint: it involves water and fish). Hannah is working for an amazing start-up, Trifecta Ecosyst…
 
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