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Books Unbound – Safe as Houses, Part Two: An Anthology


Our strange and surprising relationships with house and household objects are explored in an early story by Virginia Woolf, a modern adaptation of an unfinished story by Kafka, and a local story set in Bloomington, with poems by Pablo Neruda, James Tate and Cate Marvin. Heather Perry hosts.

Featured readings:

  • “Oda a las cosas rotas/Ode to Broken Things,” from the Elemental Odes of Pablo Neruda, read in a bilingual arrangement by Sonia Velasquez and Lauren Robert, translated by Cynthia Wolfe.
  • “The Refrigerator,” a miniature personal history by Antonia Matthew of the Writers Guild at Bloomington.
  • “I Left My Couch in Tatamagouche” by James Tate, read by Lauren Robert, from his book Shroud of the Gnome (Ecco Press, 1998).
  • “Blumfeld, an Elderly Bachelor,” by Carter Scholz, read by Tony Brewer, a modernized adaptation of an unfinished short story by Kafka, by permission of the author, from his collaboration with Jonathan Lethem, Kafka Americana (Norton, 2001).
  • “The Mark on the Wall,” one of Virginia Woolf’s earliest stories (1917), read by Joan Hawkins, the complete story expanded from the broadcast version.
  • “After the Last Fright” by Cate Marvin, read by Lauren Robert, from her book Fragment of the Head of a Queen (Sarabande Books, 2007). Books Unbound featured Marvin’s poem “Dead Girl Gang Bang” in “American Girls Horror Stories, Part Five: Fall to Pieces,” as the finale of the October 2016 series.

Special music comes from the album First Recording by New Music North, a non-profit organization in Ontario run by volunteers to promote contemporary concert music. Additional music for “After the Last Fright” comes from the album Thinking of Stefano Scodanibbio (Wergo, 2014). Theme music by The Impossible Shapes.

You can listen to George Gissing’s short story “The House of Cobwebs” in the first part of “Safe as Houses.”

“Safe as Houses” is produced, written and edited by Cynthia Wolfe, with production assistance from Doug Storm and Heather Perry. Special thanks to guest literary consultant Matt Morris. Executive producer is Joe Crawford.

Image credit: Detail from Bahnhof Königstein (1916) by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, via Wikimedia Commons

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