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Prologue

Host Ira Glass summarizes the results of an informal poll of about a hundred people, about whether they were living their Plan A or Plan B...and recounts a moment from a short story by author Ron Carlson, called "Plan B for the Middle Class," from his book by the same name.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass reads an excerpt from Nick Hornby's novel About a Boy. The narrator, Will, recalls a time when he was a child that he convinced a friend that a portal to another world existed at the back of his closet.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass describes a children's book from the 1970s called Nobody's Family Is Going to Change by Louise Fitzhugh, the author of Harriet the Spy. On the surface, it sounds like a rather menacing title for a kids' book. But in fact, the story is about how kids can finally find peace if they stop hoping that their parents will ever be any different.

Prologue

Tillie Olsen reads from her short story "I Stand Here Ironing," from her collection Tell Me A Riddle. In the story, a mother reviews all that's gone wrong in the raising of her oldest daughter...and makes a few conclusions about what she should think about her mistakes as a mother.

Prologue

Ira reads a very brief excerpt from a short story from writer Stuart Dybek called "We Didn't." Dybek fills 11 pages, thousands of words, describing all the things two people do when they're not doing something.