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.
Finding happiness is serious business. At least, for most us, it requires an act of will.
What if you're remembered in ways that you don't like? What if you're remembered for something someone else did? In this act, we consider the case of Marguerite Oswald, mother of Lee Harvey Oswald. In 1965 she spent three days with reporter Jean Stafford, who wrote about Mrs.
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.
What happens when you want your dad to change—and he wants to change, too—but there's literally nothing that can be done to change him. Jon Sarkin was a chiropractor with workaholic tendencies.
Sometimes criminals return to the scene of their misdeeds—to try to make things right, to try to undo the past. Katie Davis reports on her neighbor Bobby, who returned to the scene where he robbed people and conned people...to coach Little League.
Actor Matt Malloy reads a short story by Aimee Bender, from her book The Girl in the Flammable Skirt: Stories.
Nick Hornby, author of High Fidelity and About a Boy, explains the travails of driving his autistic son to the park.
Jay Allison and his 12-year-old daughter discuss what radio station to listen to. She wants music.
Producer Alex Blumberg conducts an investigation, perhaps the first ever, into this American subspecies: People who compulsively imitate their mother's voices in everyday conversation, well into adulthood.
Beau O'Reilly and his mother Winifred, who had 14 children, discuss her secret feelings about Johnny Cash and other matters on Mother's Day.
What happens when seventh graders become an angry mob? Karen Bernstein reports on her own seventh grade class from small-town Connecticut. In 1973, a teacher turned them into an angry mob, an event they all remember decades later.
In the early 1970s, a geographer named Roger Hart did a study of exactly where it is that children go during the daytime. For two years, he followed 86 children—all the children in a small town in Vermont, during the hours when parents were away at work.
Writer Mona Simpson reads from her forthcoming novel My Hollywood. This excerpt is about the daytime life of Filipino nannies, during the hours in which they run the lovely homes of certain Los Angeles neighborhoods.
The story of a company trying an experiment at marketing dolls to little girls:A new kind of doll store near Chicago's Magnificent Mile called "American Girl Place." The company has figured out all the ways little girls love dolls and they're trying to sell to nearly every one of those desires. Susan Burton reports that it's as if they've settled into a perch inside little girl's dreams and are selling from there.
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.
The teenagers try to get to know the locals, without a lot of success.
True stories of what happens when children are allowed to bring nature's own creatures into the house as pets. When it comes to rodents, fish and amphibians, it often works out badly...for the pets.
Reporter Mark Arax spent three years investigating the murder of his father and yet he's still not at peace when he thinks of his dad's death. (His book is called In My Father's Name: A Family, a Town, a Murder.) This is how it goes sometimes.
Genevieve Jurgensen and her husband Laurent lost their two daughters, Elise and Mathilde, at the ages of 4 and 7. Actress Felicity Jones reads from Jurgensen's book, The Disappearance: A Memoir of Loss, in which Jurgensen tries to explain her children's lives and their deaths to a friend through a series of letters.
Barbara Clinkscales grew up in Chicago's public housing projects, had her first child when she was 15, and is now—over two decades later—struggling to get her teenage son to finish his senior year of high school. Barbara is a working mom, with a network of close friends who look out for her.
Barbara's story continues, as she hears some terrible news about her son.
One of the most powerful forces in a room can be the thing that is unspoken between people. Five writers—Scott Carrier, David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, Brady Udall and Lan Samantha Chang—give us case examples: stories when they felt the presence of something unspoken.
A few years back Alex Kotlowitz wrote a book called There Are No Children Here, about two boys growing up in Chicago's Henry Horner public housing projects. Those projects were across the street from the site of the 1996 Democratic Convention in Chicago, and when the convention came to town, money poured in for a makeover.