The Easy Chair

with Laura Hurwitz

Author Laura Hurwitz reads you a story, continued week to week.

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    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 all she has left to do is claim them. This is, after all, the American Woman’s Dream. Or is Louise just a stranger in a strange land? This is an extraordinarily powerful story about female sacrifice, about what we, socially and culturally, value, and the deeper personal truths that steadfastly refuse to allow women like Louise to disappear. This week’s sponsor is Ritual! I’ve been taking Ritual for Women for over a year, and I have never felt better. Ritual has the vitamins and minerals you don’t get enough of from even the healthiest of diets, all in their purest, most digestible form. Subscribe today by going to www.ritual.com/easychair for 10% off your first three months.andre dubus

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    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 gains the love of her mother and pride of her father, the admiration of friends, acquaintances, and strangers, but through self-sacrifice and weight loss, what else has she sacrificed and lost? Tune in to part one of an achingly painful story that dares to tell the truth about what is has meant for too long to be a young woman in the world. Today’s sponsor- Rothy’s! These shoe are not only stylish, they’re sustainable! I love my new Chelsea boots in Moonglow. To feel cool teaching teens is no small feat, and Rothy’s makes that possible! To order your new favorite flats, go to www.Rothys.com/chair.

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    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 the most aspirational group of young writers imaginable. We talk about teaching and dress codes and swearing, and also review a couple of books we’ve read- Steph’s is American Chinatown: A People’s History of Five Neighborhoods by Bonnie Tsui, which I’m putting in this blurb because she couldn’t recall the title and author on the podcast. Anyway, it’s a fun catch-up, and I hope you’ll tune in! This week’s sponsor is Brooklinen. Luxury sheets without the middleman- and the luxury markup! Fall is the perfect time to give your home a posh linen makeover. Head on over to www.Brooklinen.com and enter promo code chair for 10% off your first order…and free shipping! These really are the best sheets ever.

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    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, something infinitely darker. Arnold just wants Connie to go with him. That's all. But is it? Connie's consciousness shifts, and she is suddenly no longer in the safe mundane familiarity of her own kitchen, but poised on the brink of alien, possibly terrifying world that an increasingly impatient shortArnold Friend cannot wait to show her. Tune in!

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    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 summer, and Connie is a regular at all the local hangouts...along with the mysterious Arnold Friend. Her parents and sister leave one Sunday afternoon for a family barbecue and Connie decides she will skip it. A familiar car rolls up the driveway. It would seem that Arnold Friend has had his eye on Connie. This week’s sponsor: Ritual, the obsessively-researched vitamin for women. There are key nutrients that even the healthiest eaters don’t get enough of. Enter Ritual! I am a HUGE Ritual fan, and take my two capsules every day without fail. Start your ritual today by heading on over to www.ritual.com/easychair for 10% off during your first three months.

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    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 genuinely useful. These two essays, “Short Assignments” and “Shitty First Drafts”, will inspire anyone who is even just thinking about writing to get started… and will definitely entertain everyone else. I had so much fun reading her work aloud. Tune in! This week’s sponsor is Rothys, makers of the best flats ever for women and girls. Take it from Buzzfeed, Rothys will be your forever shoe. They go with everything, from formal wear to yoga pants, and are made from recycled plastic water bottles. Style, comfort, and sustainability, all in one shoe. Head over to www.Rothys.com/chair for your pair of gotta-have-ém flats today!

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    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 he invites the couple to visit his ancestral home and meet his family). Saul’s story lands at the four-way intersection of sacred, tribal, spiritual and the everyday sweetness of ordinary life. At this intersection, the line between friend and family softens and falls away. Saul and I also talk about roadside shrines, the sport of hurling, and what it really means to be a storyteller. It’s a great ride, from the passenger seat of a rental car to an afternoon of backyard football, through the cliffs and valleys of Fahan to the intimacy of shared history and heartbreak around the kitchen table, and stuff like that. Trust me. You will not want to miss a single word.

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    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 in the bittersweet last days of their relationship. Saul’s stories, traced by memory and anchored in precise cultural, musical, and just plain existentially human references, capture this time and place, foreign yet familiar. Sit back with a cup of strong tea (or Irish whiskey, perhaps?) and take a listen. This week’s sponsor is Brooklinen. Brooklinen is committed to bringing you luxury sheets, comforters, and robes, without the luxury mark-up. For 10% off and free shipping on your best bedding ever, head to www.brooklinen.com and use promo code chair.

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    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 worked and what didn’t, in terms of plot, pacing, and character development. We also pay tribute to the sweet end of summer, and the fresh start of a new school year. It’s what I like to call a free-wheelin’ episode—steph spaulless editing, more off the cuff, lots of banter and laughter that will, I hope, be infectious. Tune in! This week’s sponsor is Ritual, the obsessively researched vitamin for and by women. I start every day with two ritual capsules, which gives me all the nutrients women need and might not be getting enough of, even, with a healthy diet. Start your ritual today! Head on over to www.ritual.com/easychair today, for 10% off your first three months!

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    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 want to know to date of your demise? How would you live your life…and face the date of your death when it rolled around? This is a fascinating, beautifully told story about the nature of mortality and marital love. It really got me thinking, and I know it’ll get you thinking, too. This week’s podcast is brought to you by Rothy’s shoes. Rothy’s makes flats for women and girls that are comfortable, stylish, and sustainable- made for life on the go. I just ordered my third pair (indigo gingham- so cool!) Go to www.Rothys.com/chair and order your new favorite flats today!

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    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 still wrestle with, or have learned to accept, when it comes to writing and life, but perfectionism must be abandoned in the interest of getting work done. When is enough editing enough? Is it really okay to be minimally, rather than maximally, satisfied? This is an uber-enlightening podcast, helpful not only to the writers out there, but also for anyone who has ever struggled with the fear of not being good enough. Tune in! And any questions, comments, or suggestions, just shoot us an email at We’d love to hear from you!

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    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-ago day from his childhood on his family's farm, when he was playing with his kid sister Kitty, taking turns jumping from the top of their three-story barn rafters into the hayloft. The ladder is flimsy, and he knows it, but they jump one last time. As Kitty climbs to the top the last rung of the ladder gives way... This is a sweeping, complex tale of love, guilt, and innocence lost from Stephen King at the top of his storytelling game. Tune in! Our sponsor this week is Brooklinen. Now that the warmer weather is here,it’s time to switch up your sheets, duvets, and comforters to something a little breezier and blissfully lightweight. Check out Brooklinen’s newest Linen Collection. Get 10% off and free shipping by going to Brooklinen.com and using promo code CHAIR. I love my Brooklinen sheets and you will, too!

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    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 Mrs. Sappleton, whose home Mr. Nuttel might like to take a room in. Apparently a terrible tragedy has taken place. Apparently there’s something not quite right about the open window. It’s a small gem of a tale that I’d never read before, but come to find out it is a short story favorite of many. Many people argue the moral of this parable, but I’m not sure there is one. No matter. It’s simply delightful. Tune in! This week’s episode is brought to you by Ritual, the obsessively researched vitamin for women, by women. It’s got nine of the essential nutrients you might not be getting enough of, even with a balanced diet. I start every day off with two Ritual vitamins, and it’s made a discernible difference in the way I feel. For my listeners: you get 10% off your first three months by going to ritual.com/EASYCHAIR. Start your Ritual today!

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    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 beginning of the year, but new beginnings can (and should) happen any time, and summer is a great time to shed old habits. Advice on how to set and attain fitness goals, to make a healthy lifestyle a thing of joy, and not self-abnegation, to fully accept that we are not what we feel, but what we believe- Michele makes aspiration the key to success, when it comes to transforming ourselves. I definitely learned more than a thing or two from this podcast. Twenty push-ups this morning, up from fifteen yesterday. I'm feeling it, and believing it! This week’s sponsor- Rothy’s, the shoes everyone’s talking about. They are made from recycled plastic water bottles, and they come in four fabulous, stylish silhouettes (I’m crazy about my sneakers, folks). They go with everything, from fancy dresses to yoga pants, and as for comfort…don’t get me started! Like butter! Go to rothys.com/chair to buy your new favorite flats!

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    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 any time to enjoy my favorite season (summer, if you’re guessing). Steph is looking at her own summer vacation after putting in a full school year. Both of our positions are challenging in their own ways, and Steph and I share some ideas about how to navigate work, play, and life. If you have any questions, observations, or insights for me and Steph, please email us at We’d love to hear from you!