Suspend Your Disbelief

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WBUR's Zip Code Stories


I live in the 02138 zip code, popularly known around here as “the nation’s most opinionated zip code,” thanks to the hordes of Harvard and MIT students. I’m not sure about that title–94720 could probably give it some competition–but I like the idea that a zip code, which is really just an arbitrary zone, can have its own personality.

That’s the idea behind WBUR’s Zip Code Stories. A joint project by Boston’s NPR station and audio lit mag The Drum, the series asks writers to develop stories based on a given local zip code:

Each month, we’ll pick four ZIP codes and ask you to write a short story — 500 words — that takes place in one of them. Together, Radio Boston and The Drum will pick the best story from each ZIP code. We’ll then ask one of the authors to come into our studios to read an excerpt and tell us the story behind the story.

Winning stories so far include works like Jennifer Haigh’s “Bent,” set in Provincetown (02657) on Cape Cod, and “Smedley’s Secret Guide to World Literature,” by Askold Melnyczuk, founding editor of the literary magazine AGNI and an associate professor of English at UMass Boston. (Come on–how can you NOT want to read a story with that title?)

Are you inspired now to write a story about a zip code dear to you? I must admit I’m thinking about the 44122, the 48108, and the 15236–all zones that mean much more to me than five digits.

Further reading:

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