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Bluff The Listener

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We're playing this week with Cristela Alonzo, Jessi Klein and Helen Hong. And here again is your host, anxiously awaiting the "Suddenly Susan" reunion special, Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Bill. Right now, it is time for the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff The Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on the air.

Hi, you are on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

CAMERON NEELEY: Hello, this is Cameron. I'm calling from Logan, Utah.

SAGAL: Oh, Logan, Utah, which is a very beautiful part of that state. What do you do there?

NEELEY: So I graduated from Utah State University with an acting degree, and four years of acting school landed me to act as a liquor store clerk.

SAGAL: Right.


SAGAL: Well, going right - I'll say going right from getting your acting degree to the liquor store saves a lot of intermediate steps. So think of it as being efficient.

NEELEY: Oh, no, absolutely.

SAGAL: Well, Cameron, welcome to our show. You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Cameron's topic?

KURTIS: They Can't All Be Winners.

SAGAL: For every "Great Gatsby," there's a crappy Gatsby that never got published. This week, we read about a previously unknown and unpublished work by a classic author. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the one who's telling the truth, and you'll win our prize - the WAIT WAITer of your choice on your voicemail. You ready to play?

NEELEY: Absolutely.

SAGAL: All right. First up, let's hear from Helen Hong.

HELEN HONG: According to a recent interview, Amy Tan, author of moving, dramatic novels like "The Joy Luck Club" and "The Bonesetter's Daughter," wrote a spinoff children's book about when the bonesetter's daughter got her first bra, which can magically talk. I wanted to teach young girls that they have support, literally, but also that they can choose to go braless, said Tan, who also revealed she was going commando. It was a weird interview.

Allegedly, the unpublished book features a talking bra whose name is Barbara (ph). And of course, it's a classic good-cup, bad-cup story. Barbara goes on adventures with young Ruth, where they do fun activities like running, jumping and walking in and out of cold buildings, while the angel cup says things like, Ruth, doesn't this support feel good? While Lefty (ph) whispers devilish encouragements like, take it off, Ruth, and let them fly free. The end of the book returns to Tan's dramatic and emotional tone when Ruth outgrows the A cup for a B. And just like the end of "The Velveteen Rabbit," Barbara the bra must be burned.

SAGAL: Amy Tan with an unpublished novel about a talking bra providing support to its human friend. Your next story of an unknown book comes from Cristela Alonzo.

CRISTELA ALONZO: So this is about Edgar Allan Poe. I love him, and I'm not kidding. I Google him. I research him, obviously. And I actually found that Edgar Allan Poe wrote what some would refer to as a cookbook nowadays, but not your basic cookbook. This one had gatherings, as he called them, instead of recipes.

So the gatherings were kind of based on hunter-gatherer things, where you would collect things and make dishes that you would eat while you were reading some of his stories. And it included recipes or gatherings called, like, The Raven pie, The Tell-Tale Chicken Heart and Also Liver, The Peach Pit and The Pendulum. It was one of those things that he thought, you know what? If we start with morbid when we eat, we can understand my world better. The title of the book is called "The Delicious Morbidities Cookbook" (ph).

SAGAL: A cookbook by Edgar Allan Poe to help market his stories. Your last story of a not-published novel comes from Jessi Klein.

JESSI KLEIN: Professor Gavin Jones, a British expert in American literature, is calling on the Steinbeck estate to release the manuscript of Steinbeck's early novel, "Murder At Full Moon," which has been locked away since Steinbeck failed to find a publisher for it in 1930. The novel is about a small California town gripped in fear by a series of gruesome murders and - spoiler alert for a 90-year-old unpublished novel you'll probably never be allowed to read - it's a werewolf.

Professor Jones says, quote, "even though it is very different from Steinbeck's other work in a totally different genre, it actually relates to his interest in violent human transformation," to which the Steinbeck estate has responded, dream on, pal. It's a shame because think of what would have happened if Steinbeck had been allowed to pursue his real passion. Here's Tom Joad at the end of "Grapes Of Wrath" talking to his Ma. I'll be everywhere. Wherever you look, wherever there's a body horribly mutilated with no earthly explanation, I'll be there. Wherever an ungodly monster spreads terror, I'll be there, Ma. Also, (imitating werewolf).


SAGAL: All right. Here are your choices. One of these was a real book by a real author that we found out about this week. Was it from Helen Hong, the great novelist Amy Tan writes a book about a talking bra; from Cristela Alonzo, a cookbook put together by Edgar Allan Poe as a companion for his stories for his fan base; or from Jessi Klein, a werewolf novel, unpublished and written by the great John Steinbeck years before he won that Nobel? Which of these is the story of a real manuscript we found out about in the week's news?

NEELEY: I think it's the Steinbeck.

SAGAL: You think it's the Steinbeck? You're going to go for the Steinbeck...


SAGAL: ...Werewolf novel, the idea that John Steinbeck wrote a werewolf novel. All right. Well, we actually spoke to a scholar who has helped us discover this lost work.

GAVIN JONES: It's an unpublished manuscript by John Steinbeck that was a murder mystery, detective werewolf novel.

SAGAL: That was Gavin Jones, the Rehmus Family professor in the humanities at Stanford University and author of the upcoming book, "Reclaiming John Steinbeck: Writing For The Future Of Humanity," talking about Steinbeck's lost werewolf novel. Congratulations. You got it right. You earned a point for Jessi. You have won our prize, the voice of your choice on your voicemail.

HONG: Yay.

SAGAL: Cameron, thank you so much for playing.

NEELEY: Thank you.

SAGAL: All right. Take care. Bye-bye.



WARREN ZEVON: (Singing) Ah-hoo, Werewolves of London.

KLEIN: (Imitating werewolf). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.