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ERICA SHUBIN When Jesus Died

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Jesus is the name of Rudy's dog--Rudy being the boy who forms a frank but subtle friendship with the narrator of Erica Shubin's story "When Jesus Died". Shubin's is a rich and detailed narrative encompassing adolescent sexuality, religion, and community, and centering on the poignant makeshift burial of a pet. Most of all, though, "When Jesus Died" explores the question of what makes us feel invincible or whole and what we do to guard against diminution.

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JONATHAN GOTSICK Wing Woman

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“Another thing of Zinfandel. We’re headed for the Coast," says the narrator of Jonathan Gotsick's "Wing Woman" when she agrees to go along with her recently-divorced friend to assume the story's title role. Toni escorts Shelley on a journey of escape and adventure rendered with vivid and particular--and humorous--detail. Gotsick's narrative leads the two women to an aging rock band and to a final performance whose bombast reveals the story's poignant heart.

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JENNIFER HAIGH Favorite Son

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Jennifer Haigh reads "Favorite Son" from her recent collection News From Heaven. It's here that the collection's title appears--in a story of hopes and disappointments shared by an entire town and by the sons and daughters left with the town's poignant legacy. "Favorite Son" explores the ways in which a certain kind of faith and trust can turn into betrayal.

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RODDY DOYLE Reading at Brookline Booksmith

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Booker-Prize-winning author Roddy Doyle reads from his latest novel The Guts in this recording of an event at Brookline Booksmith on February 6, 2014. Jimmy Rabitte, the protagonist of Doyle's first novel The Commitments, is now middle-aged and facing the difficult task of telling his wife he has cancer. Doyle's trademark spare and witty dialogue anchors the scene. Following the reading, Doyle discusses topics ranging from how he writes dialogue, the Irish recession, and footballer Wayne Rooney, all in his inimitably wry style.

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TRACY WINN Another Way to Make Cleopatra Cry

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A lost purse sets in motion this fast-paced, voice-rich story of opportunism and desperation seen through the wary eyes of a little girl. Dragged around the bars and backstreets of Lowell, Massachusetts by her father's girlfriend, Kaylene watches over her sister Cleopatra and the girlfriend's son as they go in search of the purse and its promise of a better life. Tracy Winn's "Another Way to Make Cleopatra Cry" offers a vivid sense of what it means when observation is your only resource.

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Books, Actually What If?

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Books, Actually is The Drum's collection of interlaced stories set in and around the Boston Book Festival. A thief, a teenaged poet, a coxswain, and a disgruntled author are just a few of the characters created by Boston authors Catherine Elcik, Ethan Gilsdorf, Katrina Grigg-Saito, Ted Weesner, Becky Tuch, Clarence Lai, Stace Budzko, and Henriette Lazaridis Power. Hear them all, or go directly to a selected story. Elcik (00:31), Gilsdorf (6:20), Lai (11:47), Power (17:12), Weesner (22:51), Tuch (29:23), Budzko (35:39), Grigg-Saito (37:17), Elcik (42:21).

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