December 15, 2000

Three Kinds of Deception

A story of self-deception, a story about deceiving others, and a story about accidental deception. And how one type of deception can easily turn into another.


Host Ira Glass reads an excerpt from Nick Hornby's novel About a Boy. The narrator, Will, recalls a time when he was a child that he convinced a friend that a portal to another world existed at the back of his closet. Will knew that the portal didn't exist, but continued the lie for some reason, even as he and his friend crawled through the winter coats by the closet baseboards looking for a hidden gateway. He just kept hoping that maybe they'd find something. (4 minutes)
Act One


Producer Alex Blumberg tells the story of an ex-con-turned-actor named Richie Castellano. After a bit role in the movie Analyze This, he moved to a small town and got dozens of people to invest money and time in a movie that never premiered. Why so many people bought into his grandiose dreams, and what they learned about him—and themselves—after they got burned for it. (22 minutes)

Act Two

Deceiving Others

Lawrence Otis Graham reads from an account of how he left his job as a $105,000-a-year Manhattan attorney to enter the exclusive Greenwich Country Club the only way they'd allow a black man like him: as a busboy. He discovers just how invisible he can become once he gives up his seat at the table and starts clearing the dishes instead—so invisible that people make racist remarks right in front of him. The passage is from his book A Member of the Club: Reflections on Life in a Racially Polarized World. (16 minutes)

Act Three

Accidental Deception

David Sedaris tells the story of a subway ride he took in Paris. Two American tourists mistake him for a Frenchman and, thinking he can't speak English, begin to talk loudly about how he smells. Later, they come to believe that he's a pickpocket. He starts off hating this, but comes to enjoy it. The story's from his book Me Talk Pretty One Day. (12 minutes)