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Stop making sense

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

One man’s journey past sense, and a delicious slice of Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows.


”Language was starting to slip in his mouth. Words substituting themselves for one another, and while his own thoughts remained as lucid as ever, sometimes they could only be made manifest on his tongue if they could be wrung out, or twisted, or set with false eyes. ‘False eyes’? Something like that.” --Brian Evenson, “Mudder Tongue” One man’s journey past sense, and a delicious slice of Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows.


From an evening at Symphony Space featuring stories published in the avant garde journal McSweeney’s, comes Brian Evenson’s “Mudder Tongue,” a grotesquely funny, and deeply sad odyssey of a man whose brain and tongue have, as he puts it, got out of alignment. Evenson is the author of six books of fiction including Contagion.and The Wavering Knife.

He is a recipient of the O. Henry Award, a senior editor at Conjunctions Magazine. and a teacher of creative writing at Brown University. Reader David Strathairn is the Oscar- nominated star of Good Night and Good Luck, . in which he memorably portrayed the radio broadcasting icon Edward R. Murrow. Other films include Silkwood, The River Wild,L.A. Confidential,Passionfish. On stage he has appeared in Hannah and Martin, Dance of Death, Hapgood,>/em> and Pinter’s The Birthday Party. In addition to his performances for SELECTED SHORTS, Strathairn starred in Dan Therriault’s Romance Concerto, part of WNYC’s series THE RADIO STAGE.

Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows is one of the world’s best beloved children’s books; generations have grown up with the fabulously anthropomorphized inhabitants of the Wild Wood, prankish Ratty, sincere Mole, paternal Badger and pompous Toad. The charming excerpt on this program was part of a SHORTS program at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles celebrating “food fictions”, and features a splendid repast at the modest home of the hospitable Badger. Like other children’s classics, notably Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh and Stuart Little, Wind in the Willows>/em> was intended for a particular child, Grahame’s son Alastair. Reader Samantha Eggar starred in the film version of another children’s tale, Dr. Doolittle, and was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in The Collector. Other films include The Light at the Edge of the World and The Molly Maguires. She has most recently appeared on television in Commander in Chief. Her masterly reading perfectly conveys all the social nuances that make Wind in the Willows not only a nursery favorite, but a glimpse of a vanished England.

Mudder Tongue by Brian Evenson, read by David Strathairn Mr. Badger by Kenneth Grahame, read by Samantha Eggar

For additional works featured on SELECTED SHORTS, please visit Symphony Space

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