(For all that people talk about National Public Radio, I suspect few of us know just how much territory it covers. When I was looking up the url in the next paragraph I was astounded by the number of shows NPR has, most of which I have never heard.)

In the car this afternoon, this: It looks like the audio isn’t online yet, but you should come back for it.

The part of the show I’m talking about is a man named Lester Nafzger recalling the key events of his life. There were 20 or so, (I think the exact number was 26) and they were scary and deep, about sex and death and making babies cry and car accidents.  I was sure I was simply hearing a man talking, and as he talked a flood of  memories and feelings came over me – the voice and the story were alchemical.

In retrospect though, I’m confused about what – exactly – I heard. As I’m writing this I’m looking up Joe Frank, the man who did the piece, and it appears he is a very old line NPR/radio guy, and that Lester is a player, contributor, something to Frank’s work. And the piece itself dates from 1989.

So…it was apparently fiction I heard, or something that mingles fiction and fact, I guess. Whatever it was, it sounded dead on, like a great private moment that only NPR can nail.  A more than neat trick, what Joe Frank calls ‘performance art,’ though I heard none of the painful pretense which usually can be found loitering near the term. I’ll call it some small new magic, the least expected thing, a story that goes to work on you directly, makes you feel.

Joe Frank’s web site:


One thought on “alchemy

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