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Books Unbound – Time, Memory, Imagination: Reflections for the Turn of the Year


Short stories and contemporary poems reflect on the passage of time and the return of deeds carried out in love or neglect. Heather Perry hosts.

Joan Hawkins reads Anton Chekhov’s short-short story “The Looking Glass,” translated by Constance Garnett. A young woman glimpses her future as a wife, all compressed into a moment. One of the acknowledged masters of Russian literature, and a physician by trade, Chekhov (1860–1904) is a defining practitioner of short fiction, as well as a beloved playwright of the classical stage.

In “The Attendant’s Confession” by Machado de Assis (1839–1908), a life of wage service turns into material success through a guilty action. Machado is widely regarded as the greatest writer of Brazil, but his work was little translated into English until the 1990s and remains mostly undiscovered by readers. “The Attendant’s Confession,” translated by Isaac Goldberg, was one of the few works to appear in English during the author’s lifetime. Doug Storm reads.

Featured poems:

  • “The Too Late Poem” by Albert Goldbarth (Poetry magazine, May 2004)
  • “Gnostic” by Honor Moore, from Red Shoes (W.W. Norton, 2005)
  • “In the Park” by John Koethke, from North Point North: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins, 2002)
  • Tomas Tranströmer, “The Stones,” from Bright Scythe: Selected Poems (Sarabande Books, 2015), translated by Patty Crane.

Poetry read by Cynthia Wolfe, except for “The Stones” (Doug Storm). Special music comes from “Le Vent” by the Colin Vallon Trio; “The Door” by Mathias Eick, from the album The Door (ECM, 2008); “Seriously Deep” by Eberhard Weber, from the album Serious Feet (ECM, 1978, 2001); and the album Thinking of Stefano Scodanibbio (wergo, 2015).

“Time, Memory, Imagination” was produced, written, and edited by Cynthia Wolfe. Executive producer is Joe Crawford. Theme music by The Impossible Shapes.

IMAGE CREDIT: Detail from Álmodó óra (“Dreaming Time”) by the Hungarian computer graphics artist Jenő Benedek II, via Wikimedia Commons, under the CC by SA 3.0 license.

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