A 16 Year Old George R. R. Martin to Stan Lee [Letter]

June 23, 2016
On tonight's podcast, we'll be looking at a letter written in 1964 from George R.R. Martin to Stan Lee. 

George was 16 when he wrote this, and despite the generally gloomy tone his more recent works have taken, here you find a young man bursting at the seams. It's a letter than bleeds joy onto the page, written by someone whose looking at comics with the eye of a connoseiur. It's also sophisticated, you can tell that this was penned by a person who cares about stories and their structure.

It'd be another 12 years before he published his first full length work, a short story collection called A Song for Lya, but this is George already building worlds.

I hope you enjoy.

Background music provided by: https://soundcloud.com/michel-escaillas/classik-electro

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The Raven [Grimm Fairy Tale]

June 16, 2016
On tonight's podcast, we'll be looking at The Raven, another German folk tale from the collection of the Brother's Grimm.

The version we are interested in is found in the 1905 edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales, and is of type 401, as classified by the Aarne-Thompson system. For those keeping score, these are tales where young girls are transformed into animals. In our particular case, that animal is a Raven.

This is one of those stories where I find myself questioning the translation a little. In the very first scene, the princess is transformed into a Raven and flies off into the dark, dark woods. Yet, throughout the rest of the telling, she rides around in carriages, hands out magical foodstuffs and golden rings, and generally gets on about her business just fine.

I don't know a lot of Ravens who could pull off half the tricks that she manages. 

This is also a fairy tale that manages to pack in witches, giants and highwaymen all at the same time, which is quite a feat when you think about it.

The Raven is a story of magic sticks, magic food, and incredibly talented bird women.

I hope you enjoy. 

Background music provided by: https://soundcloud.com/michel-escaillas/classik-electro

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A Love Letter Between Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir [Letter]

June 9, 2016
On tonight's podcast, we'll be looking at a letter written by Jean-Paul Sartre to Simone de Beauvoir.

Satre was famous for popularizing existentialism, and de Beauvoir for writing -- The Second Sex -- a book that formed the philosophical underpinnings of second-wave feminism. 

While they were deeply in love, and were considered a power couple in their time, they never lived in the same place and they famously had an open relationship. 

I love this letter, because it takes all the strangeness and incongruities of their affair and packages it into a few short paragraphs. You can see at once how Satre is trying to hold her close and push her away at the same, and the cool logic he uses to do it. It's art and essay at once.

I hope you enjoy. 

Background music provided by: https://soundcloud.com/michel-escaillas/classik-electro

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/steve-reads-stories/id1087197185

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How The Devil Married Three Sisters [Italian Folk Tale]

June 2, 2016
Tonight, we'll be looking at How The Devil Married Three Sisters, an Italian Folk Tale. 

Unfortunately, I didn't have time to write an intro for this one, since it's after 2AM and I've spent the last week lugging boxes into my new apartment. 

Even so, this is a great story about the trials and tribulations of satanic marriage, and well worth a listen. 

I hope you enjoy. 

Background music provided by: https://soundcloud.com/michel-escaillas/classik-electro

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/steve-reads-stories/id1087197185

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John Steinbeck Explains Love to His Son Thom [Letter]

May 26, 2016
On tonight's podcast, we'll be looking at a letter written in 1958 by John Steinbeck to his son Thom.

In it, Steinbeck, the author of the seminal book of American literature -- The Grapes of Wrath -- offers advice to his son on falling in love. 

It's beautiful, both in it's simplicity and it's completeness. 

It's a documentarians description of love, one that still manages to hold onto it's poetic core. 

It's also one of my favorites.

I hope you enjoy. 

Background music provided by: https://soundcloud.com/michel-escaillas/classik-electro

Additional Sounds: "My One and Only Heart by Perry Como," John Steinbeck reading, "The Snake"

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/steve-reads-stories/id1087197185

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The Riddle [Grimm Fairy Tale]

May 19, 2016
On tonight's podcast, we'll be looking at The Riddle, a German folk tale written by none other than the Brother's Grimm. 

This version orginally appears in the 1857 edition of "Children's and Household Tales -- Grimms' Fairy Tales," which was the final edition of that particular anthology. It was orginally sourced from Dorothea Viehmann, a storyteller and the daughter of a tavern owner, who brought us more than forty of the Grimm's tales, including: Trusty John, The Goose Girl, The Devil and His Grandmother, and The Little Peasent. 

The Riddle is a story of a Prince who decides to take a trip around the world with his trusty servant. Along the way, he runs into a witch, some murderers, and a princess with a penchant for riddles. 

What I like about this story, is just how well the Prince takes his misfortune. No matter how many times he is almost killed, he just seems to shrug and moves on. 

It kind of makes you wonder what his life was like back in the palace. 

The Riddle is a tale of witches, inn keepers, and the lengths some will go to in order to avoid marriage.  

I hope you enjoy. 

Background music provided by: https://soundcloud.com/michel-escaillas/classik-electro

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Ren and Stimpy Creator to Animator Amir Avni [Letter]

May 12, 2016
Welcome everyone, I'm Steve Spalding and this is another episode of Steve Read's Stories. Tonight, we'll be looking at a letter written in 1998 by Ren and Stimpy creator John K to a 14 year old Amir Avni.

Today Amir works as a professional animator, and has helped produce shows like Grojband and Total Drama All Stars. In 1998, however, he was just a kid with a dream, and John K not only took the time to write him back, but also gave him some pointers on drawing and sent him a book!

I love this letter not only because of the story behind it, but also because it's a nice How To guide for burgeoning animators, from one of the legends in the field.

I hope you enjoy. 

Background music provided by: https://soundcloud.com/michel-escaillas/classik-electro

Additional Sounds: Ren and Stimpy television show

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/steve-reads-stories/id1087197185

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The Witch of Treva [Cornish Folk Tale]

May 5, 2016
On tonight's podcast, we'll be looking at The Witch of Treva, a Cornish folk tale first brought to us by Robert Hunt. 

This version was published in 1881, in the third edition of, "Popular Romances of the West of England; or, The Drolls, Traditions, and Superstitions of Old Cornwall," and is -- like Little Red Cap -- actually two stories in one. Both relate the life and times of a not unkindly Witch.  

What makes this story a little different, is that instead of the Witch being a solitary figure, sitting around a hut somewhere hunting children to stew up in her pot -- the Witch of Treva is actually married, to a husband, who doesn't seem to give a whit about her powers.

He seems much more concerned about getting a good meal, than he is about having a necromancer for a wife. 

I guess you take the good with the bad.

The second half of the story is my favorite though, because it reads like a documentary, and if you remove the thought of magic from the mix -- it's about a clutch of old men terrified of rabbits. 

The Witch of Treva is a tale of marriage, meat, and a very clever hare.

I hope you enjoy. 

Background music provided by: https://soundcloud.com/michel-escaillas/classik-electro

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/steve-reads-stories/id1087197185

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Fidel Castro to Franklin Roosevelt [Letter]

April 28, 2016
On tonight's podcast, we'll be looking at a letter written in 1940 from a 12 year old Fidel Castro to president Franklin Roosevelt.

All things considered, the fact that this letter even exists is pretty amazing, not because of anything in it, but because somehow a message from a twelve year old boy who would just happen to become one of Cuba's most important leaders, found it's way to a U.S. President, just as the opening bells of World War II were ringing. 

After asking for, well, I'll let you hear that for yourself -- Fidel even gives President Roosevelt some military advice in the post-script.

It's a bizarre and prophetic couple of paragraphs.

I hope you enjoy.

Background music provided by: https://soundcloud.com/michel-escaillas/classik-electro

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For Ten Thousand Years [Short Story]

April 21, 2016
On tonight's podcast, I'll be looking at For Ten Thousand Years, the fourth piece I wrote in January as a part of my Year of Stories project. 

When I'm recording this, it's somewhere near the end of April, and I've managed to gain a bit of perspective on some of the patterns that have developed in my writing since I began this project. One of them started here, the Thursday "letter."

When you write like I do, between late and very late at night, you sometimes find yourself grasping at narrative threads. You want them strong enough to hold a story together, but not so long that you find daybreak on the other side. 

Letters, especially late in the week -- when the Muse decides to toddle off on vacation -- can really help. They carry less narrative baggage than many other formats, but still have enough room in them to provide some emotional heft. 

For Ten Thousand Years is a letter, and the emotional heft comes from three of my favorite places: dark magic, delightfully strange hand's behind the curtain, and vivid descriptions of deeply unpleasent things. 

It was also a fun read, how often do you get to talk about jars of human fear?

I hope you enjoy.
 
Background music provided by: https://soundcloud.com/michel-escaillas/classik-electro

Additional Sounds by: Mike Koenig

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/steve-reads-stories/id1087197185

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