Julia Sweeney, a Catholic, tells the story of how her faith began to crack after reading a most alarming book...called the Bible. Her story is excerpted from her play, "Letting Go of God," which ran in Los Angeles.
We hear excerpts from two autobiographies which each describe the same moment, but in very different ways. Elia Kazan and Arthur Miller agree that they met with each other in 1952, around the time Kazan named the names of his old friends to the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
Host Ira Glass talks with Francine Pascal, who's written or invented the plot lines for over 700 books for teenagers in the various Sweet Valley High series....Sweet Valley Kids, Sweet Valley Twins, Sweet Valley University, Sweet Valley Senior Year. She explains why a prom story is a must for teen movies and TV shows.
Ira talks with Jonathan Morris, the amazingly funny and charming editor of the website Gone and Forgotten, an Internet archive of failed comic book characters. Jonathan explains what makes a new superhero succeed, and what makes him tank.
Host Ira Glass describes a children's book from the 1970s called Nobody's Family Is Going to Change by Louise Fitzhugh, the author of Harriet the Spy. On the surface, it sounds like a rather menacing title for a kids' book. But in fact, the story is about how kids can finally find peace if they stop hoping that their parents will ever be any different.
A truly remarkable children's book just came back in print: The Lonely Doll, by Dare Wright. Jean Nathan tells the story of the book and its author, and how the author's life came to resemble something from her book.
Kindergarten teacher and "Genius Grant" recipient Vivian Paley is the author of many books about the stories children invent and the way they play, and what it's about. At a time when schools are cutting back on having a doll corner, she tells the story of a child in her class who was sort of saved by a doll, and the story he told about the doll.
When Alexa was seven, she started going through her grandfather's books. Her grandfather was a playwright and teacher, and through the books—and especially through his notes in the margins—she entered the world of 1930's American theater.
The story of a book that changed a family's life, but only temporarily and not for the better. David Sedaris describes what happens when he finds a dirty book in the woods and shares it with his sisters.
Writer Meghan Daum goes to DeSmet, South Dakota, where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived and where many of the books she wrote in the Little House on the Prairie series are set. It turns out to be remarkably similar to what Meghan had pictured before she went: The people seem like they are genuinely trying to hold on to the values Laura Ingalls Wilder writes about in her books.