Selected Shorts

Selected Shorts Podcast

Spellbinding short stories by established and emerging writers take on a new life when they are performed by stars of the stage and screen.

Magic and Realism: Clarice Lispector
Guest host Sonia Manzano presents works by the Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector. Carolina Ravassa reads "Remnants of Carnival," in which a little girl is briefly transformed. Denis O'Hare tells an eerie tale of a strange marriage in "The Obedient Ones," and Lynn Cohen is a scary matriarch in "Happy Birthday."...

Women's Roles
Guest host Kate Burton presents three works about the roles of women. Margaret Atwood twists the tail of the fairy tale in "There Was Once," read by Jane Kaczmarek, Rene Auberjonois, and Zach Grenier. An actress is offered an unsympathetic part in "A Leading Role," by Tove Jansson, also read by Jane Kaczmarek. In Smith Henderson's "Treasure State," a young girl hitches a ride with runaway brothers. The reader is Michael Shannon....

Make 'Em Laugh: A Celebration of James Thurber
Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents a program celebrating the great American humorist in some of the many genres in which he was drop-dead funny. Thurber confesses that he’s all thumbs in “I Break Everything I Touch,” performed by Keith Olbermann. Who knew that The Bard wrote whodunnits? Find out who in “The Macbeth Murder Mystery,” performed by Michael McKean and Susannah Rogers. Kristen Nielsen, Susannah Rogers, and Keith Olbermann perform a selection of Thurber’s fables, and McKean reads “Many Moons,” Thu...


Learn from Your Mistakes
Guest host David Sedaris two stories about learning from your mistakes. Isaiah Sheffer reads Tobias Wolff’s “Mortals,” in which a botched obit leads to a life lesson. In Edwidge Danticat’s “Reading Lessons,” read by Marsha Stephanie Blake, it is the teacher who is taught....

Front Lines
Guest host Kate Burton presents four works reflecting on the experience of war.  Lieutenant Colonel Chris Cohoes emailed his young sons while serving in Afghanistan. Matthew Modine reads one of his notes. A black soldier fights for independence during the Revolutionary War. Ruben Santiago-Hudson reads “A Soldier for the Crown” by Charles Johnson. In Robert Olen Butler’s “Mother in the Trenches,” a woman makes her way to France to be with her son. And Moacyr Scliar imagines war as just another day job in “Pe...

Dance in America
Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents works celebrating dance. A domineering mother uses an evening at the ballet to find fault in "My Mother Explains the Ballet to Me,” by Jesse Eisenberg, performed by Patricia Kalember. A pioneering African-American dancer remembers an audition in “Léonide Massine,” by Janet Collins, performed by Carmen de Lavallade. A magical garment transforms its owner in “The Cape,” by Ben Loory, performed by Tony Yazbeck. And the “Tango” undermines a stuffy WASP community in this funny ...


I Did It My Way
Guest host Kirsten Vangsness presents four works about fame, celebrity, show biz, and what it takes to survive them. First, actor Cole Escola channels the legendary Joan Crawford in an excerpt from her autobiography, My Way of Life. Author Zadie Smith channels the dauntless spirit of Billie Holiday in “Crazy They Call Me,” performed by Karen Pittman. Will Eno’s “Interview" is a freewheeling monologue which offers both sides of an extensive and confessional outpouring performed by the author. And Bebe Neuwir...

Uncharted Territories
Guest host Sonia Manzano presents three works about entering uncharted territories. An early John Updike fable, “The Different One,” imagines a bold bunny. It’s read by Michael Emerson. A gentrified town morphs into a dreamscape in Steven Millhauser’s “Coming Soon,” ready by David Morse. And Kirstin Valdez Quade’s essay “Youth From Every Quarter” looks at the harsher side of assimilation. It’s read by Manzano....

Modern Fables
Guest host Kirsten Vangsness presents two contemporary fables. First, Michael Cunningham reimagines the Hans Christian Andersen classic “A Wild Swan,” in a reading by Valorie Curry. Next, an excerpt from George Saunders’ touching and hilarious novella, Fox 8, read by John Cameron Mitchell....


Courtship and What Comes After
Guest host Jane Curtin offers up tales of courtship and its consequences. In “Prince Amilec,” by Tanith Lee, a handsome prince pursues a beautiful princess, but it’s not the same old, same old fairy tale.  Gildart Jackson performs. A couple explores their relationship in a humorous piece by A.M. Homes. “Be Mine is performed by Sanjit De Silva and Adina Verson. And in “The Idea of Marcel,” by Marie-Helene Bertino, a breakup leads ex lovers to reboot each other. It’s performed by Jenna Ushkowitz....

Untrue Love
Guest host Michael Cerveris presents two stories about untrue love.  A devoted wife worships her sailor husband in Daphne du Maurier's "La Sainte-Vierge," read by Kathryn Erbe.  And Paul Giamatti reads a sci-fi classic by Robert Sheckley, "Pilgrimage to Earth," in which a traveller from a distant planet comes to Earth to find love. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...


After Life
Guest host John Darnielle presents favorite works that reflect on life and death and what comes after.  He reads Robert Browning’s chilling poem “My Last Duchess,” and also offers up a new song, “Skeleton’s Tooth.”  Molly Ringwald performs “No More Loves,” by Javier Marias, in which a ghost learns to read by proxy.  Kirsten Vangsness reads Neil Gaiman’s “When We Went to See the End of the World by Dawnie Morningside, Age 11 ¼; the child narrator doesn’t like what she finds in this magical place.  The heroin...

Riverhead at 25
Guest host Maulik Pancholy presents works that reflect on the diversity and excellence of Riverhead Books, celebrating a quarter century.  The program features “Flower Hunters,” by Lauren Groff, performed by Maria Dizzia, and “Buck Boy,” by James McBride, performed by Teagle Bougere, as well as special commissions from Aja Gabel (“Alarm”) and R.O. Kwon (“Tempo”) both performed by Hettienne Park.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...

Twice Told: Stories Inspired by Books
Guest host Michael Cerveris presents four stories inspired by other books and authors.  Immigrants collide at Wal-Mart in Juan Martinez's “Best Worst American,” read by Cristin Milioti.  An old friendship is strained in Namwali Serpell 's "Double Men," read by Nikki M. James.  Seth Fried re-imagines Kafka's "Metamorphosis"; the reader is Jennifer Mudge.  And Dino Buzzati visits "Kafka's Houses" on trip to Prague.  The reader is Tony Roberts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...


Rituals
Guest host Hope Davis presents two stories about rituals.  A young author takes a glamorous older woman to lunch and all does not go well in “The Luncheon” by Jeffrey Archer, performed by Jefferson Mays.  And host Davis performs Amy Bloom’s touching story “Love is Not a Pie,” in which family secrets, and family bonds, are shared after a funeral.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...

Longings and Secrets
Guest host David Strathairn presents two stories about longing.  In Peter Carey’s “American Dreams,” a small Australian community is transformed into a tourist destination by a bizarre bequest.  Strathairn is the reader.  And writer and actor Lisa Fugard performs her own beautiful “Night Calls,” about a lonely widower, his young daughter, and an endangered bird.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...

Against All Odds
Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents two stories about people who beat the odds.  In Lauren Groff’s “At the Round Earth’s Imagined Corners,” read by Amy Ryan, a sensitive boy grows up in a house full of snakes.  Then, writer Kiese Laymon recalls coming of age in racist Jackson, Mississippi in his memoir “How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America,” read by Brandon J. Dirden.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...


Not Quite Human with John Darnielle
Guest host John Darnielle presents two of his favorite weird stories.  In Amparo Davila’s “Moses and Gaspar,” a grieving man has inherited two—creatures—from his dead brother.  But what in the world are they?  Peter Jay Fernandez reads.  A slick salesman has a little something extra up his sleeve in Dennis Etchison’s “The Pitch,” read by Michael Shannon.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...

Overcome: A Valentine’s Day Special
Guest host Michael Cerveris presents three unusual love stories.  A goofy guy meets the girl of his dreams in a really strange way in "Chainsaw Apple," by Arthur Bradford, read by Josh Radnor.  Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov recalls a ten-year-olds' "First Love," read by Edward Herrmann.  And a desperate housewife's plans for adventure are foiled in Dorothy Thomas's "The Getaway," read by Mia Dillon.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...

No Place Like Home: Best American Short Stories 2018
Guest host Maulik Pancholy presents two selections from this year’s Best American Short Stories anthology, with comments by this year’s guest editor, Roxane Gay.  In “Suburbia,” by Amy Silverberg, a young girl leaves home for the first time, and both she, and it, are transformed.   The reader is Martha Plimpton.   “Everything is Far from Here,” by Cristina Henriquez, goes to the heart of the country’s immigration crisis with an affecting portrait of a migrant mother and her son.  It’s performed by Zabryna G...


Growing Pains
Guest host David Sedaris presents three stories about growing up and rites of passage.  A young woman is drawn into a social charade in Joyce Carol Oates' "Nairobi," read by Alison Pill.  Best friends re-examine their relationship in Amy Hempel's "The Most Girl Part of You," read by Kate Burton.  And Rick Moody follows two brothers from childhood to maturity in "Boys," read by BD Wong.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...

Dangerously Funny: George Saunders & Carrie Brownstein
Guest host Josh Radnor presents works by Carrie Brownstein and George Saunders.  Brownstein reads from her memoir “Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl.”  BD Wong performs Saunders’ “My Chivalric Fiasco,” about a goofy knight errant at a Renaissance Fair, and Anthony Rapp performs Saunders’ “Sticks”, a brief portrait of an eccentric dad.  We also hear Brownstein and Saunders in conversation with Radnor.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...

Moving On
Guest host Jane Curtin presents three stories about emotional transitions—what happens after divorce, or the death of a loved one?  In our first, prankish story by Ron Carlson, lunch with an ex becomes an Olympic sport.  The reader is Sean Astin.  Tom Barbash’s thoughtful story “The Women” explores the very different ways a father and son cope with the loss of a wife and mother.  Michael Imperioli is the reader.  And we finish with an elegant classic by the French writer Colette, read by Barbara Barrie.  A ...


Morality Tales
Guest host Robert Sean Leonard presents four stories with lessons for us.  In T.C. Boyle’s “The Five-Pound Burrito,” a chef goes over the top.  Santino Fontana reads.   A lonely millennial learns that you can’t hurry puppy love in “Love (or Live Cargo)” by Nancy Jooyoun Kim, read by Valorie Curry.  Military acronyms can’t disguise the emotional toll of war in Phil Klay’s “OIF,” read by Brandon J. Dirden; and The Last Supper may be depicted in “The Tablecloth of Turin,” by Ron Carlson, read by Edi Gathegi.Le...

New Beginnings
Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents two stories about new beginnings and missed connections.  Philip K. Dick’s classic sci-fi story “Beyond Lies the Wub” asks what it is to be human.  The reader is Denis O’Hare.   And a Russian émigré eagerly awaits the New York City of his dreams in Lara Vapnyar’s “Waiting for the Miracle,” read by David Costabile.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...

Tough Love for the Holidays
Guest host Robert Sean Leonard presents three provocative holiday stories.  An ambitious tree learns a life lesson in “The Fir Tree,” by Hans Christian Andersen, performed by James Naughton; God lets her hair down in “Interview with God,” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, performed by James Naughton and Jayne Atkinson; and a gangster is not so jolly in Kurt Vonnegut’s hilarious “A Present for Big Saint Nick,” performed by Tate Donovan.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...


A Child’s-Eye View: Stories by John Irving
Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents excerpts from works by novelist John Irving.  Orphans are cared for by a tough guy and a tough dog in "The Broken Side-view Mirror," read by Yul Vazquez.  A teenager is smitten by a librarian in an excerpt from In One Person, read by Michael C. Hall.  And a philandering children's book author entertains "Unhappy Mothers," in a reading by Heather Burns from A Widow for One Year.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...

Rites of Passage: Stories from The Paris Review
Guest host Robert Sean Leonard presents stories from the legendary literary magazine The Paris Review.  Umberto Eco has a really big fish in “How to Travel with a Salmon,” read by Jin Ha.  A mother mourns her son with his difficult friends in “Marabou,” by Joy Williams, read by Michael Emerson.  In George Fox’s “The Twenty-Sixth Second” a WWII veteran has a secret.  It’s read by Linda Lavin.  And host Leonard finishes up with a story set on the day of the Nazi occupation of Paris, “The Hat,” by Patrick Modi...

Guilty Consciences
Guest host David Sedaris presents two stories about people who have guilty consciences—or ought to.  In “Juniper Tree,” by Lorrie Moore, a trio of old friends visits a fourth friend—who’s just died.  It’s read by Jill Eikenberry.  And there’s a poison pen at work in a picturesque town, in Shirley Jackson’s “The Possibility of Evil,” read by Dana Ivey.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...


Truth and Consequences with A.M. Homes and T.C. Boyle
Guest host Jane Curtin presents provocative stories by T.C. Boyle and A.M. Homes. In Boyle’s“Top of the Food Chain,” a government program wreaks havoc with Mother Nature.  It’s performed by Zach Grenier.  In “A Prize for Every Player,” Homes locates a charming family fantasy in a big box store.  Jane Curtin is the reader. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...

Parents and Children
Guest host Kate Burton presents two stories about parents and children.  A mother and daughter remember the past differently in Tessa Hadley's "Matrilineal," performed by Patricia Kalember.  And a surprising offer divides two families in "In the Country," by Guy de Maupassant, performed by Thomas Gibson.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...

Only Human: Anton Chekhov
Guest host Jane Curtin presents works by Anton Chekhov that were part of a celebration sponsored by Columbia University and hosted by Chekhov scholar Laura Strausfeld.  We’ll hear “A Drama,” performed by Cynthia Nixon—an ambitious writer overwhelms her idol; “Rapture,” performed by Robin Miles, Sam Underwood, Rainn Wilson, and Di Zhu—a young man enjoys his 15 minutes of fame; “Which is Better?,” performed by Rainn Wilson—Chekhov debates the merits of schools vs. pubs; and “Verotchka,” performed by Rainn Wil...


Politics is Local
Guest host Kate Burton presents three stories about politics and voting, at home and abroad.  In Chinau Achebe's "The Voter," a wily Nigerian campaign worker has a dilemma.  Arthur French reads.  Humorist Simon Rich turns a world-famous protest into a doomed courtship, in "Occupy Jen's Street," read by Wyatt Cenac.  And a feisty voter gets the last word in“Taking Ms. Kezee to the Polls,” by David Haynes, read by Michael Genét.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...

Welcome to Night Vale
Hosts of the hit podcast offer up some of their favorite weird stories by Will Eno, Yoko Ogawa, Shirley Jackson, Patricia Lockwood, and Daniel Mallory Ortberg, performed by Cecil Baldwin, Marin Ireland, Dylan Marron, and Mara Wilson. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...

Improbable Dreams
Guest host Hope Davis presents three improbable stories: in “The Orange,” by Benjamin Rosenbaum, a citrus fruit rules the world.  The read is John Cameron Mitchell.  In “The Man, The Restaurant, and the Eiffel Tower,” by Ben Loory, performed by Stana Katic, a father’s children conspire to make him happy.  In “I, Gentile,” by David Gordon, performed by Michael Urie, a reluctant Jew falls in love with the wrong girl. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...


Ways of Seeing
Guest host Maulik Pancholy presents two works about how we look at things.  An independent woman, an IRS auditor, and a dog share a moment—and a poem--in “Yancey,” by Ann Beattie, read by Mia Dillon.  In “The Mappist,” by Barry Lopez, a geographer is on the trail of a mysterious map maker.  Joe Spano reads.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...

Food Fights with Food52
Guest host Robert Sean Leonard presents two works curated with the online food and cooking community Food52.  In J. Robert Lennon’s “Breadman,” artisanal bread threatens a marriage.  Kyle MacLachlan reads.  And Joan Allen performs an excerpt from Nora Ephron’s novel Heartburn.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...

Coming and Going: Best American Short Stories
Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents three works from The Best American Short Stories 2016. An American student meets her Ethiopian relatives in "The Suitcase," by Meron Hadero, read by Renée Elise Goldsberry.  A young boy sees something unbelievable in Daniel O'Malley's "The Bridge," read by Joan Allen.   And an endangered parrot pleads for compassion in "The Great Silence," by Ted Chiang, read by Elizabeth Rodriguez. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...


Too Hot For Radio Greg Ames "Benefactor"
A story from Greg Ames, the author of a novel, Buffalo Lockjaw, and a collection of stories entitled Funeral Platter. His work has appeared in Best American Nonrequired Reading, Southern Review, McSweeney’s, North American Review, Catapult, and The Sun, among others. “Benefactor,” is something of a cautionary tale for all would-be patrons of the arts; please don’t let it stop you from sending us your tax-deductible donations. We recorded this story earlier in 2018 as a part of our live show in San Francisco...

Too Hot For Radio Richard Bausch "Billboard"
Today we’re going to hear a story from Richard Bausch. This lifelong writer has produced novels and short story collections including Before During After, Peace, In the Night Season and the 2017 title Living in the Weather of the World. The actor performing it is David Strathairn, who is known for John Sayles films, Good Night and Good Luck, Lincoln, Alphas and so much more. Strathairn brings a lovely restraint to his performances, and as you’ll hear, that quality lends a new dimension to Bausch’s impulsive...

Too Hot For Radio Kevin Canty "God’s Work"
On this episode, a tale that involves a teenage evangelist coping with teenage lust. “God’s Work,” by Kevin Canty, was read during the annual Selected Shorts celebration of the Best American Short Stories series. The editor of the 2017 volume—novelist Meg Wolitzer - talks to host Aparna Nancherla after the reading describing Canty's keen insights about his characters which make them easily relatable, and there’s some lovely lyricism to his writing, as you’ll hear in today’s story.  The actor reading our sto...


Too Hot For Radio Brit Bennett "Ain’t That Good News"
A story by the up-and-coming writer Brit Bennett. Bennett is the real friggin’ deal: Her debut novel “The Mothers” made a splash in 2016 (soon to be a movie starring Kerry Washington), the same year she was named one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35.” She has written essays for The Paris Review, The New York Times and The New Yorker, but remains focused on fiction. While her stories deal with seemingly ordinary people in insular communities, they’re like a rocket full of fortune cookies, propul...