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Act One: Repeat After Me

A story by regular contributor David Sedaris involving his sister Lisa, a secret, and her very understanding parrot. David read this story live, and it's on his CD Live at Carnegie Hall. The story is also published in his book Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.

Act One: Wannabe

Writer David Sedaris remembers the days his mother and sister played armchair detective, and the odd crime wave that hit their own home. This story, titled "True Detective," appears in David's book Naked.

Act Three: Ashes

How writer (and frequent This American Life contributor) David Sedaris and his family reacted when Sedaris's mother—a lifelong, unrepentant smoker—developed lung cancer. After a lifetime of barbed, funny remarks, no one in the family is prepared to talk about their feelings.

Prologue

How David Sedaris became a Christmas writer — and how he started writing stories about the holiday that are so dark that sometimes it seems that he's trying to single handedly destroy Christmas. We hear from members of David's own family, and from David, all of whom insist that David loves Christmas.

Prologue

Lisa LaBorde has two daughters, and having grown up an only child, she can't understand why they fight all the time. Her idea of sisterhood is more like a scene from The Sound of Music. Wanting to create that kind of bond for her girls, Lisa decides to enlist the aid of science to see if she can turn these enemies into friends—in just one month.

Act One: Lab Rugrats

Continuing from our prologue, host Ira Glass checks in with Lisa and her older daughter, Kennedy, to see how the experiment went. After a month, they've charted surprising results, learned that the girls aren't the only ones in the house who need to change, and found out just how much money it takes to get a twelve-year-old to play with a five-year-old.

Act One: Duki

When Danielle's family serves poultry at their dinner table, no one utters the word "chicken." Instead, it is always called "fish." Danielle explains why with the help of her friend "Duki." (16 minutes)

Act One

When Danielle's family serves poultry at their dinner table, no one utters the word "chicken." Instead, it is always called "fish." Danielle explains why with the help of her friend "Duki." (20 minutes)

Act One

Adam Beckman tells the first part of his story, about how, back in the 70s, he and his friends broke into an abandoned  house in the small town of  Freedom, New Hampshire. The home turned out to be a perfect time capsule, containing the furniture, letters and personal effects of an entire family — abandoned for decades.

Act One

Sarah Vowell and her twin sister Amy re-trace the Trail of Tears. They visit the town in Georgia that was the capital of the Cherokee Nation before the Cherokee were expelled.