Enviable Characters

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And the vampires. You used to know where you stood with them—smelly, evil, undead—but now there are virtuous vampires and disreputable vampires, and sexy vampires and glittery vampires, and none of the old rules about them are true any more. Once you could depend on garlic, and on the rising of the sun, and on crucifixes. You could get rid of the vampires once and for all. But not any more.—Margaret Atwood, “I Dream of Zenia with the Bright Red Teeth.”

Guest host Robert Sean Leonard presents three stories about people in pursuit of the good life. The first is by Ray Bradbury. Bradbury, author of such classics as The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451, is famous for taking us to imaginary places—different planets, alternate universes, disturbing rifts in the world we know. But he was also great at capturing the here and now, and the joy and magic of childhood. He does this wonderfully in “The Sound of Summer Running.” The story’s determined young hero wants only one thing: the perfect pair of sneakers. Sean Astin read Ray Bradbury’s “The Sound of Summer Running” at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

Canadian author Margaret Atwood has created harsh worlds also, in novels such as The Handmaid’s Tale and her Booker Prize winning work The Blind Assassin, but she’s in a kinder, gentler mood in “I Dream of Zenia with the Bright Red Teeth.” When an aging flower child begins to have weird dreams about an old rival, it could be kharma—or those vampire movies she’s been watching. “Criminal Minds” star Kirsten Vangsness read this at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean is the elegant author of books such as The Orchid Thief and Rin Tin Tin, but in the humor piece “Shiftless Little Loafers” she has claimed the snit. It’s a mock rant against a segment of the population that’s not pulling its weight: babies. Writer and performer Dave Hill is the reader.

“The Sound of Summer Running,” by Ray Bradbury, performed by Sean Astin

“I Dream of Zenia with the Bright Red Teeth,” by Margaret Atwood, performed by Kirsten Vangsness

“Shiftless Little Loafers,” by Susan Orlean, performed by Dave Hill

The SELECTED SHORTS theme is David Peterson's “That's the Deal,” performed by the Deardorf/Peterson Group.

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