November 23, 2012

It’s politics! And Suicide! And *gasp* (potentially) false paternity!


…politics and suicide and paternity, OH MY!

…politics and suicide and paternity, OH MY!

…politics and suicide and paternity, OH MY!


What? Why yes, I have recently seen a high school production of The Wizard of Oz – how did you ever guess?


Your Wrists Are Small, Story No. 9 from Little (flash) Fiction, by Sara Habein and Little Fiction

Read by Xe Sands

Xe  writes…

Continuing with the awesome flash fiction collection from Little Fiction…with a bit of remembrance – an unwelcome reminder perhaps, from Sara Habein.

So this week’s piece, one I’ve liked for quite a while, was almost an enigma to record. Considering it’s dark and messy subject matter, I thought it would be one of the easier to narrate.

I did not expect it to keep slipping away from me. I did not expect to feel nothing while narrating and then to find that I’d gotten to the end of it without being entirely present…like a horse dutifully plodding home after it’s rider has fallen asleep, which makes for a wholly unsatisfying listening experience.

But it’s a truly affecting piece! In discussing it with a friend, I could not seem to get through any of the lines without being struck by them like a physical slap (can you be “struck” by a slap? Hmm). It’s not the piece…in narration, it’s almost never the writing.

I recorded this piece many times…and each time, I was speaking to a different friend/loved one who has struggled and tried to move on without truly moving on.

It was all crap. There is, in fact, a snippet of me actually saying aloud, “Arghugh – it’s all CRAP!” No, you don’t get to hear that part – sorry.

And then I recorded it again, to myself, as myself. I changed all pronouns to “I.” Then it hit me like a train. It was me. I was talking about myself. I was talking to myself. No, I haven’t tried to commit suicide, but work with the metaphor here, people…the literal is immaterial at the moment.

There is something about the frailty, the smallness of wrists…I have them. I have broken them. I have been broken. Sometimes I still am broken. Sometimes I think the scars don’t show. And sometimes…sometimes there is a voice that reminds me they do, they should show…like my ears show, or my left shin shows. Sometimes I tell that voice to shut the hell up.

So when I went back to record this one last time, it was with the full knowledge that I was speaking to myself, and I was speaking to my oldest/dearest friends who have struggled and continue to wade through an inner landscape akin to a septic tank. And some of them have tried suicide on like a cocktail dress, and some just have metaphorical scars. And we are, all of us, each other’s scars, each other’s reminders that there was a before, and there is an after, and there is even a bridge.

I say: be the bridge.


Abigail Adams Letter to John, November 1796

Read by Diane Havens

Diane writes…

Partisan politics is nothing new, unfortunately.

I love history when told from first person accounts. Letters are invaluable for the insights they provide into a time period, and it reminds us that history is after all, a story, a true one, that is often more compelling than any fiction.

A book I have picked up consistently for many years is “The Letters of John and Abigail Adams” — occasionally I’ll look for a letter they’d written on the current month and day, to see what was happening with them on that day in the 1700s. I did that this past week, and to my delight, found this letter Abigail had written to John during the election of 1796, when John Adams was running against Thomas Jefferson, his bitter rival, for the presidency.

The parallels to campaigns today were apparent — proving to me once again that people change little throughout history, only the advances in the technologies we use make us capable of greater damage (or help) to one another.

Washington’s term had ended and he was warning the nation of the divisive nature of a two party system.

In this letter, Abigail is bemoaning the support the French were giving to Jefferson, and railing against certain newspapers whose owners had their biased agendas (sounds familiar…) The attacks on each side were vicious and personal. Jefferson was painted as a pro-French atheist while Adams was depicted as an elitist crank. An angry Abigail is ultimately resigned to whatever happens, leaving it to God’s will — but is preparing their Massachusetts farm for John’s probable return that coming summer.

As it happened, John Adams won the presidency by a slim margin of electoral votes, and by the rules of that time period which predated the 12th amendment, Jefferson then became the vice president.

Talk about gridlock.


Tom Jones – Book 2, Chapter 6, by Henry Fielding

Read by Mark Turetsky

Mark  writes…

Book 2 Chapter 6 of Tom Jones.

This is part of an ongoing project in which I will record and post one chapter per week of Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones over the course of four years.

This week we reach the end (for now!) of the story of Mr. Partridge. He gets called before Allworthy for the crime of cheating on his wife and fathering little Tommy on Jenny. The one witness who might have saved him, Jenny, has left the secret location that Allworthy sent her to, and, despite his constant protestations of innocence, Partridge is judged guilty, and he’s stripped of his annuity. We also get a hint in this chapter that he may after all be innocent, because Jenny had been mighty friendly with a local boy of around 18 years old. Take it from me, the many twists and turns of Tom Jones parentage haven’t even begun to get as twisty or turny as they will.

However, for now, Mr. Partridge’s story comes to an end. He leaves the country(-side). And while his neighbors were all rooting for his downfall and siding with his wife, once he’s brought low and his wife has died, Partridge becomes the object of universal pity. Such is the way of the mob in Fielding.

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