The Easy Chair

with Laura Hurwitz

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

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    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 stood the test of time and things we have come to see differently. It’s one of my favorite MTTS episodes on record, and I love that we were able to dive deep into the way we once felt and/or still feel about language, literature, and life. Tune in! Our sponsor this week is Brooklinen. With the holidays around the corner, consider giving the gift of coziness and comfort in the form of Brooklinen’s sheets, comforters, towels, etc. Check out Brooklinen’s expanded line of products that will transform your home (and any home you gift) into a spa. For 10% off and free shipping, go to www.Brooklinen.com and enter promo code chair. Brooklinen: everything you need to live your most comfortable life.

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    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 tapped fellow artists not only to tell about their art, but to be their art in the form of a traditional Patron Saint. (https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/new_havens_patron_saints_canonized/). Then, we get into a lively discussion of what’s happening in our happening hometown of New Haven, the thrill of riding the wave of newly-unleashed artistic expression, and what it means to say yes (and selectively no) to the universe. K.P. is a BLAST to talk to, and this podcast thrums with her irreverent, vibrant energy. Tune in! And you can catch her radio show here: https://cygnusradio.com/author/kpcygnusradio-com/ This week’s sponsor is Ritual, the obsessively researched, wholly transparent once daily vitamin that fills in the gaps in a woman’s diet. I have been taking Ritual for over a year and it’s made a real impact on the way I feel. For 10% off your first three months, go to www.ritual.com/EASYCHAIR. You’re welcome!

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    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 boy is looking for his Popsy, and when Sheridan reveals that Popsy is not, as promised, waiting for him at a nearby McDonald’s, the boy tells him Popsy will find him. Sheridan is quick to laugh this off. But something dark is happening that Sheridan cannot not possibly imagine. You are not going to want to miss this twisted tale by the master of horror. This week’s sponsor is Rothy’s. Style, comfort, and sustainability- At Rothy’s, I guarantee you’ll find your new favorite flats. I’m loving my slip-on sneakers these days; I can wear them to yoga, then straight to work, and they look and feel fabulous. Go to www.Rothys.com/chair to find YOUR forever shoes

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    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 person, an over-sharer, and as she shares various fantasies, she begins to waver. What she understands about rape and what she can't begin to comprehend make for a darkly comic, oddly illuminating story about the differences, real and perceived, between men and women. Don’t let the title put you off (like I almost did). This story is a feminist classic. Tune in! This week’s sponsor is Brooklinen. Towels, sheets, comforters- doesn’t your place (and don’t you!) deserve a fall makeover- from blah to spa? My bathroom is looking amazing, thanks to the luxury towels I ordered from Brooklinen- without the luxury markup. For 10% off and free shipping, visit www.Brooklinen.com today and use promo code CHAIR for 10% off and free shipping.

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    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 Adolph Knipe has created a computer that can be fed data that will, if his boss Mr. Bohlen allows, make writers and writing obsolete. At the end of the day, writers want to write, but more than that, they want certain publication, fame, and money. It’s all about cornering the market, baby, and novels are big business. This tale will have even the most earnest of young writers pondering their calling and their future. Tune in!

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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!