Chicago Public Radio 

This American Life: Stories of Hope and Fear

This American Life, one of Public Radio International's greatest shows, eschews categorization through interviews of ordinary people talking about lives that are anything but ordinary. These two CDs include work by well-known names like David Sedaris, but it's not the stars that make it shine. Hope & Fear is extraordinary because of the low-key confessions of folks like Sascha Rothchild. Her hilarious and poignant tale was recorded during a performance at Mortified, a weekly event in Los Angeles that features people reading from their teenage diaries. There are many other peculiar tales on these two CDs, but the oddest is "The Babysitters" by Myron Jones and Carol Bove. This brother-and-sister duo escaped their controlling and slightly insane mother on weekends by taking a babysitting job with a family they invented. Their mother became so jealous of this mythical family that she once told her kids that she spoke to the family's mother on the phone. The story builds an ornate palace of lies before coming to its tragic conclusion. They say truth is stranger than fiction, and the vignettes This American Life presents here offer dramatic and entertaining proof.

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