In a lovely compendium of tender kisses and tireless devotion, a gallery of all-star readers from the McSweeney’s stables discuss their best first dates, while making gifts for their significant others at Build-a-Bear workshops around the country. Well… not really.
Pia Ehrhardt: How It Floods
Pia reports from the banks of Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana, where the Army Corps of Engineers continues to repair and rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. There, with the sound of the lake lapping against the shore, she reads her heartfelt story about love in the time of natural disaster.
McSweeney’s Issue 14; Run time: 16:52
Sheila Heti: The Sort of Woman Freeman Loved & The Princess and the Plumber
We selected two pieces from Sheila’s short story collection The Middle Stories. In “The Princess and the Plumber,” Sheila spins a dystopian fairy tale complete with talking frogs, a princess (obviously), and a dour little girl. “The Sort of Woman Freeman Loved” centers on a married couple who try to buy bliss from a door-to-door salesman. In a classic scene of life imitating art, the reading takes place following a bit of domestic discord in the Heti household. She reads both stories from the backyard of her Manhattan sublet.
The Middle Stories; Run times: 11:33, 10:39
Tony D’souza: The Man Who Married a Tree
From his self-described “crappy apartment” in Austin, Texas, Tony single-handedly takes on all of the numerous roles in his well-crafted paean to man-tree love. Among the many faces of Mr. D’Souza: the townsmen, the postman, God, the mountains, and the coroner.
McSweeney’s Issue 14; Run time: 26:17.
Ben Ehrenreich: After the Disaster
“After the Disaster” is a beautifully composed tale of a post-apocalyptic love triangle between man, woman, and giant squid. The story centers on the human protagonists rescuing said squid from imminent destruction at the hands of vandals wandering the now unguarded halls of New York’s American Museum of Natural History. Ben reads the story of Bruno, Mildred, and their mollusk friend from the shade of a tree in Los Angeles’s Elysian Park.
McSweeney’s Issue 24; Run time: 63:39
Chris Bachelder: My Son, There Is Another World Alongside Our Own
Chris reads us his epistolary short story, appropriately enough, from beside his mailbox in Amherst, Massachusetts. As the occasional car passes by, Chris passes on the advice of a “biannual custodian” to his adolescent son. In this irreverent and hilarious letter, a father confirms his progeny’s suspicions that all around him, behind every bush, people are constantly and eternally engaged in all manners of filthy congress.
McSweeney’s Issue 23; Run time: 44:49