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.
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Julia Sweeney reads this story. She's a former Saturday Night Live cast member and star of the sad and comic memoir of life with cancer, God Said, "Ha!," which played on Broadway.
Michael Lewis on duck hunting.
Writer Tim Melley.
Independent producer Dan Collison, on Pilottown and a feature story that fell apart.
Ira with Lynnette Nyman, who, as a girl, recorded her parents fighting with a cassette recorder she got for Christmas.
Binjamin Wilkomirski and New York writer Blake Eskin try and figure out if they are related. NOTE: A few years after this interview aired, Binjamin Wilkomirski and his Holocaust memoir Fragments were shown to be fabrications. Blake Eskin chronicled this story in his 2002 book A Life In Pieces: The Making and Unmaking of Binjamin Wilkomirski.
David Sedaris, on his mother's lung cancer.
Two people who've nearly died in gun battles describe what it's like, getting shot at. They draw opposite conclusions from their near death experiences.
Sarah Vowell goes home to Montana to try and understand her gunsmith dad a little better.
Geoffrey Canada, author of the book Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America, talks about what it's like to carry a gun. He also talks about what poor neighborhoods in New York were like before the proliferation of handguns among young people. When he grew up in the South Bronx, kids had fistfights in a very formal arrangement with formal rules that everyone lived by. He reads from his book and talks with Ira.
Scott Carrier in Salt Lake City with the latest installment in his 12-year quest to chase down and catch an antelope. This story and others are included in his book Running After Antelope.
Mary and Manfred Rauer have been married 22 years. He's a devout Christian, goes to church every week, reads the Bible every day, was head of his congregation.
Scott Carrier in Salt Lake City with a story about whether it's possible to be a good person if you're not a Christian.
Susan Berman, author of the memoir Easy Street, the True Story of a Gangster's Daugher, reads from her book about her father Davie Berman, a Jewish gangster and one of the men — with Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel — who created modern Las Vegas. (7 minutes) Act Two continues after the break.
Jerry Capeci, dean of the New York reporters who cover organized crime, on the decline of the mob in recent years. And Alec Wilkinson of the New Yorker magazine, who discusses a photo his wife took of his old neighbors, the Gambino crime family.
Ellery Eskelin never met his father but always heard he was a musical genius. Years after his father's death, Ellery started finding recordings of his musical output: he was the king of "song-poems." These are the songs that result when people answer those ads in the backs of magazines that say, "Send us your lyrics, and we'll write and record your song." Ellery's father's musical output was prodigious — and very odd.
The first part of Josh Seftel and Rich Robinson's documentary about South Africa. Josh meets people who may be distant South African relatives.
Josh Seftel and Rich Robinson's trek across South Africa continues. They head to the "South African Woodstock" and to a group that's half Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign and half terrorist campaign.
Photographer Joel Meyerowitz decided to go on a last big trip with his father, Hy, who has Alzheimer's. Joel also brought his own son.
Host Ira Glass talks to Amanda, who's 16 and lives with her mom in a Christian commune in Chicago.
A family dreams of life in rural Maine, moves there, and then things get really complicated.
David Beers explains the gorgeous, modern vision that drew his family, and tons of other families, to California, and then what happened after they arrived.
Writer Malcolm Gladwell, reads from a story that he first wrote for the New Yorker magazine about his cousins, who immigrated to the U.S. from Jamaica 12 years ago.