Selected Shorts

By Selected Shorts

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 Apr 5, 2019

Christine W
 Sep 4, 2018


Your favorite actors bringing great stories to life.

Episode Date
Guest host Denis O’Hare introduces two stories about outsiders.  A tutor finds her privileged teenage client mystifying in Kyle McCarthy’s “Ancient Rome,” read by Tavi Gevinson.  In Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Thing Around Your Neck,” a young Nigerian woman comes to America for the first time, and it’s not what she imagined.   The story is read by Condola Rashad.   See for privacy information.
Sep 17, 2020
Try This On: Stories from an Evening with New York Magazine’s The Cut
Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents stories from New York Magazine’s online portal “The Cut,” which combines art, journalism, and the kind of fresh contemporary fiction that speaks to us.  On this show, a woman tries on different identities, as well as clothes, in a dress shop fitting room, in “Fully Zipped” by Shelly Oria, performed by Katja Blichfeld.   A new mother can’t seem to get the hang of breastfeeding in Curtis Sittenfeld’s “Bad Latch,” performed by Justine Lupe.  And Parker Posey tackles mail order—and time travel—in Xuan Juliana Wang’s “Future Cat.” See for privacy information.
Sep 10, 2020
Coming of Age
Guest host Tayari Jones presents stories about rites of passage between childhood and adulthood.  In Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector’s lyrical “The First Kiss,” a young boy has his first brush with the sensual.  Pepe Nufrio is the reader.  A fiery country girl shows a cool city boy the ropes—and a gator—in “Hellion,” written by Julia Elliott, and read by Donna Lynne Champlin. 51 See for privacy information.
Sep 03, 2020
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. See for privacy information.
Aug 27, 2020
Too Hot For Radio: Judy Grahn : "The Psychoanalysis of Edward the Dyke"
Becca Blackwell reads “The Psychoanalysis of Edward the Dyke,” by Judy Grahn. Hosted by Michael Ian Black. 
Aug 24, 2020
Runs in the Family
Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents two stories about unusual family members. In Alix Ohlin’s “The Cruise,” a heartsick divorcee travels with her unconventional aunt. Laura Benanti reads.  An elderly dog is “A Permanent Member of the Family,” and a bone of contention, in this Russell Banks story performed by Zach Grenier.
Aug 20, 2020
Two Against the World
Guest host Hope Davis presents two stories in which strong bonds between women are  evoked, by authors reflecting very different worlds.  In Youmna Chlala’s “Nayla,” read by Rita Wolf, two young women in a traditional community form a friendship.  In Susan Perabo’s “Life Off My E,” the relationship between sisters is reflected through their shared love of Scrabble.  Hope Davis is the reader.
Aug 13, 2020
I Do, I Do
Guest host Jane Curtin presents two stories about marriage.  A theatrical union is subtly tested in Bruce Jay Friedman’s “Any Number of Little Old Ladies,” performed by Blythe Danner and Maulik Pancholy.  And love is stretched thin, but rebounds, in Roxana Robinson’s “In Naples,” read by Betty Buckley.
Aug 06, 2020
Best Intentions
Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents two stories in which people go overboard to demonstrate their devotion.  In Robin Hemley’s “A Printer’s Tale,” a poet’s boyfriend hijacks a national magazine for her love--and one reader isn’t pleased.  Reader Robert Sean Leonard brings an eccentric trio to life.  In “Oh Shenandoah,” by Maura Stanton, a determined young woman wants to call it quits with her overzealous fiancé.   But they’re in Venice—and there’s this toilet seat problem.  Broadway powerhouse Kelli O’Hara reads—and sings—“Oh Shenandoah.”
Jul 30, 2020
Too Hot For Radio: Brit Bennett "Ain't That Good News"
A story by the writer Brit Bennett, "Ain't That Good News" is tender, sad, and packs a wallop. You'll be completely hooked. Bennett's 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.” Her new novel, The Vanishing Half, published in June, is already a New York Times bestseller and has garnered reviews like, "This is sure to be one of 2020’s best and boldest," Elle, and Bookpage compares her work to Toni Morrison, Anne Tyler and Elizabeth Strout.  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, propulsive and full of canny observations.  Our actor Karen Pittman absolutely nails this reading. Pittman has been in series including The Americans and Luke Cage, and has appeared on Broadway in plays such as Disgraced and Good People.
Jul 28, 2020
Guest host Hope Davis presents three uncanny stories featuring children.  In Simon Rich’s  hilarious “The Baby,” a novelist faces competition from his unborn son.  Jason Mantzoukas is the reader.  A children’s game takes a strange turn in Fiona McFarlane’s “Buttony,” read by Jin Ha.  And Etgar Keret offers up an unusual mother-son story—and lots of calories--in “Crumb Cake,” performed by Andy Richter.
Jul 23, 2020
Past and Future
Guest host Maulik Pancholy presents a show about the past, the future, and how time flies.  A young actor recalls critical moments in her childhood in Elizabeth Strout’s “Snow Blind,” read by Melora Hardin.  Old schoolmates almost hook up in Joyce Carol Oates’ “August Evening,” read by Sonia Manzano.   In our final story, a lifetime goes by in “Half a Day,” by Naguib Mahfooz, read by Bruce Altman.
Jul 16, 2020
Journeys, Memories, and Miracles: Italian Short Stories
Guest host Hope Davis presents a program of Italian short fiction selected by the novelist and short-story writer Jhumpa Lahiri.  The stories were drawn from The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories, which Lahiri edited.  They range from the comic to the fantastical.  In Leonardo Sciascia’s “The Long Voyage,” hopeful peasants try to make it to a mysterious place called “Trenton.” The reader is John Turturro.  A couple hopes to restore pre-World War II elegance in “Invitation to Dinner,” by Alba de Cespedes, read by Dawn Akemi Saito.  And there’s heat, sand, water, and magical realism on offer in Massimo Bontempelli’s “The Miraculous Beach, or, Prize for Modesty, read by Hugh Dancy.
Jul 09, 2020
Celebrating Toni Morrison
Guest host Tayari Jones helps us to celebrate this American master, who died in 2019.  Her novels, including Beloved, Jazz and Song of Solomon, have become an indelible part of the American canon.  Her fierce, poetic visions earned her the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  She was also an editor, advocate, teacher, and mother.  This program features her essay “A Knowing So Deep,” read by Jones; an excerpt from The Bluest Eye, read by Anika Noni Rose; an excerpt from Jazz, read by S. Epatha Merkerson;  “Sweetness,” read by Phylicia Rashad, and a tribute by Fran Lebowitz.
Jul 02, 2020
Too Hot For Radio: Mona Simpson "Wrong Object"
Mona Simpson is the author of six books including Anywhere But Here, My Hollywood and Casebook. Her Too Hot For Radio story features a therapist, a patient, and one uniquely inappropriate relationship.This story was originally published in Harper’s and selected by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All The Light You Cannot See, Anthony Doerr, for The Best American Short Stories 2019 for which he served as the guest editor. Read by the incomparable Cynthia Nixon, the story can be described as moving, unsettling, disturbing, but above all else, captivating. 
Jun 29, 2020
Shout it Out: The Stonewall Uprising at 50
Guest host Denis O’Hare helps us mark the landmark event that helped give birth to the modern movement for LGBTQIA+ rights in America.  We first hear eyewitness accounts of the riots, drawn from The Stonewall Reader.  Additional works include Perry Brass’s “We Did It”; poems by  Kay Ulanday Barrett; and Gary Eldon Peter’s story “Wedding.”  Readers include Ivory Aquino, Kate Bornstein, Michael Early, Beth Malone, Kay Ulanday Barrett, and John Benjamin Hickey.
Jun 25, 2020
Guest host Hope Davis presents two stories in which things get out of hand.  Rumors and recriminations fly in “Belles Lettres,” by Nafissa Thompson-Spires, as rival mothers defend their daughters’ reputations at a posh school--at any cost.  The readers are Eboni Booth, Shalewa Sharpe, and Mary Karr.   And we hear Shirley Jackson’s lighter side in  “About Two Nice People,” in which neighbors seem to be getting mixed messages from one another.  The readers are  Lilli Cooper, Ethan Slater, and Julie Halston.
Jun 18, 2020
Not Your Mother’s Love Stories
Guest host Dennis O’Hare presents two unorthodox love stories at a time when we could all use a little love.   British writer Jane Gardam twists Hans Christian Andersen’s tale in a saucy reboot of “The Little Mermaid.”  Her version, “The Pangs of Love,” is read by Jane Kaczmarek.  And Sharon Gless performs “Hat Trick,” by Edith Pearlman, in which four young girls choose husbands by chance.
Jun 11, 2020
More Funny Favorites from Andy Borowitz
Guest host Andy Borowitz intros four hilarious pieces featured in his anthology The 50 Funniest American Writers.  James Naughton reads S.J. Perelman’s noir parody “Farewell, My Lovely Appetizer;” Susan Orlean complains about idle tots in “Shiftless Little Loafers,” read by Dave Hill; old-time radio is revealed in Jean Shepherd’s “The Counterfeit Secret Circle Member Gets the Message,” read by Isaiah Sheffer; and one woman’s all-nighter, in Jenny Allen’s “Awake,” read by Jane Kaczmarek.
Jun 04, 2020
Too Hot For Radio: Stories by Elizabeth Crane and Michael Czyniejewski
Our friend Michael Ian Black is back to host a twofer Too Hot For Radio episode. First up is actor K. Todd Freeman reading“Pregnant with Peanut Butter” by Michael Czyniejewski. Czyniejewski is the author of three story collections, including Our Bedroom and I Will Love You for the Rest of My Life: Breakup Stories. Performing this story is an actor known for everything from multiple appearances on Broadway to Buffy the Vampire SlayertoA Series of Unfortunate Events.  Elizabeth Crane is the author of our second story, the unusual and funny “Colonel Sanders Has a Choice (Lives His Best Life)." Crane has written six books including the novel The History of Great Things and the story collection Turf. Our performer is the multi-hyphenate Busy Phillips, who acted in TV shows such as Freaks & Geeks and had her own late-night show Busy Tonight.  Stay tuned at the end of the show for a great talk between Michael and Elizabeth discussing the origins of her story and her outlook on life.  
May 31, 2020
Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents three stories with surprising twists and turns, a reminder that surprises can still be entertaining, even though the world has changed in unpredictable ways.  A wife finds something unexpected in her local thrift shop in “Second Hand,” by Andres Neuman.  The story is performed by Kaczmarek.  Dawn Powell’s “Dinner on the Rocks” is an elegant comedy of bad manners, performed by Christina Pickles.  And the salesman in Hubert Selby Jr.’s “Fortune Cookie” thinks he’s found a formula for success.  Michael Imperioli is the reader.
May 28, 2020
I Am America
Guest host Maulik Pancholy presents stories, essays, and poems, and speeches celebrating America’s diversity and wealth of stories, at a time when we need to know we are together, even when we are apart.  An aging father ponders his life in Elizabeth Strout’s “The Walk,” read by Ellen Burstyn.  The whole country’s talking in Susan Minot’s “Listen,” read by Jennifer Ikeda and Khris Lewin.  Julia Alvarez faces prejudice and finds her voice in “Speak! Speak!” read by Selenis Leyva, and Henry Louis Gates introduces works by 19th-century African-American women writers.  
May 21, 2020
Fractured Fairy Tales
Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents two stories based on fairy tales.  We need good stories more than ever now.  Traditional fairy tales always have a lesson, and these new versions are guaranteed to offer up some pearls about staying strong in difficult times.  First, a story about an unconventional princess.  Jane Kaczmarek performs Jeanne Desy’s “The Princess Who Stood On Her Own 2 Feet.” And Brazilian feminist writer Clarice Lispector shares a wealthy woman’s moment of truth in “Beauty and the Beast or The Enormous Wound,” performed by Kate Burton.
May 14, 2020
What Strangers See
In this time of sheltering, we think one of the things that’s magical about short stories is that they bring the world to you.  On this program, guest host Michael Cerveris presents two stories about the difference between what other people observe about us, and who we actually are.  Even though we’re all mostly “home alone” right now, these pieces remind us that when we are out in the world, our inner and outer selves can be very different.  Cerveris reads “Riding the Doghouse,” a great coming-of-age story about a young boy and his trucker dad, by Randy DeVita, and the superb Kathleen Chalfant brings to life Carol Shields’ “Mrs. Turner Cutting the Grass.”  Mrs. Turner is a suburban widow with sloppy gardening skills—and cellulite—but she has an interesting past. 
May 07, 2020
Funny Favorites from Andy Borowitz
Goodness knows we could all use a laugh right now.  So this week we’re offering a Selected Shorts program full of funny stories selected by Andy Borowitz, who’s funny in so many ways. The late columnist Molly Ivins sticks it to pompous politicians in “Tough as Bob War and Other Stuff,” performed by Judith Ivey.  Essayist Sloane Crosley reveals a shameful habit in “The Pony Problem,” performed by Kirsten Vangsness.  Parker Posey delivers a classic Dorothy Parker rant (two Parkers, no waiting) about a lousy dance partner, and Selected Shorts’ late host and founder Isaiah Sheffer speaks truth to toddlers in Ian Frazier’s “Lamentations of the Father.”
Apr 30, 2020
Too Hot For Radio: Hilary Mantel "The Long QT"
We're rebroadcasting one of our earlier episodes in honor of the long-awaited publication of The Mirror & the Light, author Hilary Mantel's final chapter of the trilogy she began with her peerless, Booker Prize-winning novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. We found this story in her often wicked short story collection The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher.  “The Long QT” features a standard, modern-day dilemma that delivers an entirely unexpected sort of fright at the end. Host Aparna Nancherla chats with champion open water swimmer, Lynne Cox, a real life survivor of the disorder Mantel's story is based upon. Read by actress Joanne Whalley.
Apr 27, 2020
Food Fights with Food52
In honor of the human impulse to seek culinary comfort when times are tough, guest host Robert Sean Leonard presents two food-centered stories curated with the online food and cooking community Food52. In J. Robert Lennon’s “Breadman,” artisanal bread threatens a marriage. Kyle MacLachlan is the incredulous spouse.  And Joan Allen performs an excerpt from Nora Ephron’s novel Heartburn, a slice of infidelity in which there are consequences—and pie.  
Apr 23, 2020
Sweet and Sour
The stories on this program, hosted by Jane Kaczmarek, start out in one place and end up somewhere completely different.  Which pretty much describes our world at the moment.    The three authors also talk about how people connect—something that seems important right now.  Colin Nissan’s “Wedding Announcement” escalates comically in the reading by John Cameron Mitchell.  A wary housewife is surprised by beauty in Michel Faber’s “The Eyes of the Soul,’ performed by Kirsten Vangsness, and teenage lovers grow up quickly in James Lasdun’s “Lime Pickle” performed by David Schwimmer.   (The pickle is really not—do not try this at home!)
Apr 16, 2020
Shaken & Stirred
Guest host Jane Curtin presents three quirky stories in which a drop or two is taken: Michael Gerber's and Jonathan Schwarz's "What We Talk About When We Talk About Doughnuts" is a riff on a famous Raymond Carver tale; it's performed by Joey Slotnick.  Early New Yorker humorist Corey Ford tells us just what can go wrong at "The Office Party," performed by Jordan Klepper. And wry tale of boozy suburbia, "The Sorrows of Gin," is performed by Kathleen Chalfant.
Apr 09, 2020
April Foolery
Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents April Fools’ tales guaranteed to transport listeners away from the madness. In these three stories, characters search for ways to escape their everyday: An office romance stings in Ryan Boudinot’s “Bee Beard,” read by Tony Hale.  A man finds an ingenious way to slip out of his own life in Susan Sontag’s “The Dummy,” read by Justin Kirk. And Miranda July imagines a senior citizens’ “Swim Team,” in a story read by Parker Posey. Unexpected, funny and a little absurd, these shorts should help anyone craving the usual release of April Fool’s Day festivities.  
Apr 02, 2020
Too Hot For Radio: Joe Meno "Everything Strange and Unknown"

On this episode of Too Hot, we're rereleasing Joe Meno's story, "Everything Strange and Unknown," because, well, right now everything is strange and unknown. What better time to lose yourself in a great story. Hopefully, listening to Michael Ian Black read this lovely, poignant, and humorous piece, you gain some time to escape.

Mar 30, 2020
O.Henry at 100

Guest host Michael Cerveris presents stories that celebrate the distinguished O.Henry Awards.  Three prize-winning stories are featured: In “Midrash on Happiness,” by Grace Paley, a woman wants it all.  The reader is Mia Dillon. And a woman who’s lost it all must get an exit visa in “The American Embassy,” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, read by Karen Pittman.  A son is puzzled by his father’s strange habit in Jerome Weidman’s “My Father Sits in the Dark,” read by Josh Hamilton.


Mar 26, 2020
Big Shots

As the rollup to the Presidential elections continues, we offer two stories about big shots, presented by guest host Jane Curtin.  First, classic humorist James Thurber imagines what happens when an aviation hero has feet of clay.  “The Greatest Man in the World” is read by Michael Ian Black.  And former President Bill Clinton makes a cameo appearance in Meera Nair’s warmly funny tale of a village in Bangladesh about to be rescued from “centuries of obscurity.”  “A Warm Welcome to the President, Insh'Allah!” is performed by Aasif Mandvi.  Author Meera Nair tells us about the origins of the piece, and her writing process, at the end of the story.

Mar 19, 2020
Safe Distance

Guest host LeVar Burton presents three stories in which fantasies and memories are both near and far.  In “The Elevator Dancer,” by N.K. Jemisin, a guard is obsessed by a woman who spins when no one is looking.  Laura Gomez is the reader.  A woman remembers a transforming moment in her Depression-era childhood in “Marigolds,” by Eugenia W. Collier.  The story is performed by Sharon Washington. Ursula K. Le Guin moves and surprises us in “The Wife’s Story,” performed by Joanna Gleason.

Mar 12, 2020
Crossing the Line

Guest host Denis O’Hare presents three stories that take things to extremes.  In Simon Rich’s “Distractions,” we learn about a global conspiracy.  Errin Hayes reads.  The misanthrope in Douglas Lawson’s “Love in a Kitchen Garden” is cruel to his garden gnomes.  Richard Kind reads.  And Maulik Pancholy performs Emily Buckler’s “Brand Values,” a reality-bending tale about high-end leather.

Mar 05, 2020
Embracing Disaster: Joyce Carol Oates and Etgar Keret

Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents stories by two masters of the form who share an outré sensibility.  Humor, humanity, and fantasy all combine in four tales of things gone wrong. 
In “Fly Already” by Etgar Keret, performed by Liev Schreiber, a widower and his small son watch a drama unfold. In “Where Are You?” by Joyce Carol Oates, performed by Dianna Agron, a demanding husband pushes his wife to the limit. In
“One Gram Short” by Etgar Keret, performed by Ira Glass, a stoner makes a really bad deal; and Oates introduces an unlikely “Assassin,” in a story that combines tongue-in-cheek horror and political satire.  Becky Ann Baker is the reader.

Feb 27, 2020
Too Hot For Radio: Jess Walter "Thief"

From the New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Ruins, our story today comes from the first collection of short fiction from Jess Walter. We Live In Water is a suite of diverse and searching stories about personal struggle and diminished dreams, all of them marked by the wry wit, keen eye, and generosity of spirit that has made him a bookseller and reader favorite, including Barack Obama who called “We Live in Water: Stories” one of his favorite books of 2019. 

A former National Book Award finalist and winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award, Jess Walter is the author of six novels, one book of short stories and one nonfiction book. His work has been translated into 32 languages, and his fiction has been selected three times forBest American Short Stories as well as the Pushcart Prize and Best American Nonrequired Reading. His stories, essays and journalism have appeared in, Harper'sEsquirePlayboy, McSweeney'sTin HousePloughshares, the New York Times, the Washington Post and many others. 

Our reader, Josh Malina, is well-known for playing Will Bailey on the NBC drama The West Wing, Jeremy Goodwin on Sports Night, David Rosen on Scandal, and President Siebert on The Big Bang Theory.

This episode is hosted by comedian, author, and actor, Michael Ian Black and features a very funny conversation between Black and the author after the story.

Feb 24, 2020
Imaginary Worlds

Guest host Hope Davis presents two stories about imagined worlds.  In “The Dreamlife of Toasters,” by Heather O’Neill, an android falls in love, and there are consequences.  The reader is Yvette Nicole Brown.  In Stefan Zweig’s “The Invisible Collection,” a blind man is able to “see” priceless drawings.  The story is performed by René Auberjonois.


Feb 20, 2020
Inside Out

Guest host Jane Curtin presents three stories in which small things count for a lot.  A discarded sock reminds one woman of her ex-husband in “The Sock” by Lydia Davis, read by Kaneza Schaal.  Sisters find a chess set at a department store in Meg Wolitzer’s “Deep Lie the Woods,” read by Blythe Danner.  And old-time jazz musicians and their funny clothes, food, and drink charm a young drummer in “Nightblooming,” by Kenneth Calhoun, read by Josh Charles.

Feb 13, 2020
Quiet Reflections

Guest host Michael Cerveris presents two stories in which a lot  happens, but subtly. The narrator of A.M. Homes’ “Yours Truly” is “hiding in the linen closet” on a journey of self-discovery.  The reader is Beth Malone. In Weike Wang’s “Omakase” a couple’s special sushi dinner proves unexpectedly revealing. The reader is Jennifer Lim.

Feb 06, 2020
Children and Their Parents

Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents stories about the family dynamics between children and parents. It's never too early to defy gender norms, as Ivan E. Coyote confides in "No Bikini," read by Becca Blackwell.  A woman confronts her mother's aging, and her own childlessness, in Kathryn Chetkovich's tender story "The World with My Mother Still In It," read by Phillipa Soo.  And three generations are "At the Zoo," in a story by Caitlin Horrocks: a rowdy grandpa, a sensitive child, and a mother caught between the two.  The reader is Kate Walsh.

Jan 30, 2020
Too Hot For Radio: Ottessa Moshfegh "The Weirdos"

In her twenties Ottessa Moshfegh co-owned a bar in Wuhan, China. She’s lived next to crack addicts and been bedridden for an entire year with cat scratch fever. She is a Stegner fellow, attended Brown’s MFA program, and in the past four years has won many, many awards including a Pushcart, an O. Henry, and the Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize. Eileen, her first novel, was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Man Booker Prize, and won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction. My Year of Rest and Relaxation, her second novel, was a New York Times bestseller. Her story on this episode, "The Weirdos," is read by Colby Minifie, known for her TV roles in Fear of the Walking Dead and Jessica Jones, among others, as well as her many roles on Broadway including Long Days Journey Into Night and Six Degrees of Separation.

This episode is hosted by comedian Michael Ian Black who talks to Ottessa about her work including how much of the plot is autobiographical, and her life after the story.

Jan 27, 2020
Ways of Loving

Guest host Kirsten Vangsness presents stories about the different shapes that loves takes. They show how “exquisitely OK it is to be ourselves,” she comments.  In “Love and Hydrogen” Jim Shepard conjures up the breathtaking magic of travel by airship in his tale of doomed lovers aboard the Hindenberg. The story is performed by Sam Underwood.  In Carys Davies’ “The Coat” a woman is surprised by her own feelings when she comforts a distressed neighbor. The performer is Becca Blackwell.

Jan 23, 2020
Cosy and Chilly: An Agatha Christie Celebration

Guest host David Strathairn introduces two tales by master of mystery Agatha Christie, with special comments by crime novelist Megan Abbott and Christie fan Fran Lebowitz.  Lois Smith performs “Miss Marple Tells a Story,” in which Christie’s spinster sleuth boasts a little, and Hugh Dancy reads “Accident,” about a woman with a dark past come to light.


Jan 16, 2020
Out of Control

Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents three revealing first person accounts taking us from a crowded bus, to a suburban motel, to a Russian estate: “Hello?” by Dmitry Biriukov, performed by Mike Doyle; “How to Tie-Dye,” by Jenny Allen, performed by Jane Curtin; and “From the Diary of a Hot-Tempered Man,” by Anton Chekhov and translated by Peter Constantine, performed by Sam Underwood

Jan 14, 2020
Out of Control

Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents three works about losing control.  In Dmitry Biriukov’s “Hello?” a crowded city bus inspires one passenger to create a romantic scenario.  The reader is Mike Doyle.  Jenny Allen offers up a disastrous crafts project in “How to Tie-Dye,” reader by Jane Curtin.  And Anton Chekhov gives us a clueless young man beset by determined women in “From the Diary of a Hot-Tempered Man,” read by Sam Underwood.

Jan 09, 2020
Love 2.0

Guest host Kate Burton presents four unusual love stories.  David Galef imagines “My Date with Neanderthal Woman,” read by Giullian Yao Gioiello.   It’s raining old boyfriends and ex-husbands—literally—in Marie-Helene Bertino’s “Edna in Rain,” read by Colby Minifie.  An extra-marital affair becomes a comedy of errors in Sam Ruddick’s “Leak,” read by “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me” host Peter Sagal.  And Kathleen Turner performs Isabel Allende’s magical “The Little Heidelberg.”

Jan 02, 2020
Too Hot For Radio: Simon Rich "Birthday Party"

Simon Rich has written for SNL, created the series Miracle Workers and Man Seeking Woman, and is beloved by people who actually read The New Yorker and don't just recycle it after seeing they didn't win the caption contest. Rich also has several story collections and this will be his second story featured on Too Hot. 

Neil Patrick Harris is the actor who read this during a Sketchfest show in San Francisco. Harris does musicals, TV, high-profile hosting gigs, you name it. Listeners may know him as Barney on How I Met Your Mother, or as Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events. 

After the reading, stay tuned for a great interview between host Aparna Nancherla and The New Yorker editor Susan Morrison who spills some secrets about what makes the perfect funny story for the iconic magazine.

Dec 30, 2019
For Better or Worse

Guest host Josh Radnor presents two stories about marriage and its challenges. In Helen Phillips’ “The Knowers,” a wife wants the answer to an ultimate question, but her husband does not. It’s performed by Stockard Channing. The “Three Little Maids” of Alix Ohlin’s story are a middle-aged man’s ex-wife, current wife, and daughter. The story is performed by Mia Dillon.

Dec 26, 2019
Christmas Spirits High and Low

We want Christmas to be merry and bright, but sometimes the season can be challenging. Our two stories, presented by guest host Cynthia Nixon, do deliver good cheer in the end (and Nixon shares a few of her own holiday traditions). In Laurie Notaro’s “O Holy Night, or The Year I Ruined Christmas” there’s a hideous Christmas tree, and a demanding parent with a long memory. The hilarious tale is read by Kirsten Vangsness. In Jeanette Winterson’s luminous “Spirit of Christmas” a married couple set off for their holiday with frayed tempers and too much stuff. They wind up with nothing but a miracle. Christina Pickles is the reader.

Dec 19, 2019
Bonus Story: René Auberjonois Reads Philip K. Dick's "The King of the Elves"

On December 8, 2019 actor René Auberjonois passed away. He'll be fondly remembered and sorely missed by all of us at Selected Shorts. He was a VIP reader, one of those amazing actors who could bring any story to life, keeping audiences totally entranced. We never aired or released René reading this Philip K. Dick story. It was a little too long to put on the radio, but we want to share now. Please enjoy. 

Dec 13, 2019
Through Young Eyes: Stories by Carson McCullers

Guest host Hope Davis presents three works by the Southern master Carson McCullers.  In “Correspondence” a self-important young woman is disappointed in her choice of pen-pal.  Emily Skeggs is the reader.  McCullers draws on her own childhood in “The Discovery of Christmas,”  read by Amanda Quaid.  And “Sucker” explores the troubled and complicated relationship between two teen boys.  Michael Cerveris performs.   

Dec 12, 2019
Facts and Legends

Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents three stories where facts, beliefs, and fabrications coincide. Essayist Samantha Irby debunks nature, fresh air, and sunshine in “The Case for Remaining Indoors,” performed by Retta. Rebecca Makkai shares tattered facts about a terrorist in “Everything We Know About the Bomber,” performed by John Cameron Mitchell. And Michael McKean brings a difficult prankster father to life in Walter Kirn’s “The Hoaxer.”

Dec 05, 2019
Trust Your Senses

Guest host Michael Cerveris presents stories in which trusting your senses is important. In Jeanne Dixon’s “Blue Waltz with Coyotes,” a rebellious farm girl flirts with danger. It’s read by Mia Dillon. And Aimee Bender creates a fairytale for our time in “The Color Master,” whose crafts is creating clothes that mirror nature. Denis O’Hare is the reader.

Nov 28, 2019
Too Hot For Radio: Katherine Heiny "Cranberry Relish"

Just in time for the holidays, a story that will speak to any of us who sometimes can't shake the feeling that the grass is always greener. In a story that is at once utterly hilarious and achingly poignant, Katherine Heiny chronicles the ways in which we are unfaithful to each other, both willfully and unwittingly. This story comes from her collection called Single, Carefree, Mellow. Heiny’s work has appeared in The New Yorker and The Atlantic, and she recently published a novel called Standard Deviation. To read this story is an actor we simply couldn’t do without at Selected Shorts. Jane Kaczmarek has performed in everything from Long Day’s Journey Into Night to Malcolm in the Middle. After her reading, Jane talks with host Aparna Nancherla.

This story was performed as part of our show at the annual SF Sketchfest.

Nov 25, 2019
Family Matters

Guest host Hope Davis presents stories about family ties. A mixed-race college student has a comic encounter in "My Brother at the Canadian Border," by Sholeh Wolpe, read by Maulik Pancholy. Marriage is really for better or worse in Lauren Schenkman's "A Guide to Fooling Yourself,” read by Kaneza Schaal. A young man meets his boozy dad in "Reunion," by John Cheever, read by Bruce Altman. And Viet Thanh Nguyen tells a heartbreaking and mystical tale of Vietnamese immigrants in "Black-Eyed Women," read by Jennifer Ikeda.

Nov 21, 2019
Motherhood with Celeste Ng & Mary Karr

On this show, guest host Kate Burton introduces two stories that look at the joys and complexity of motherhood. They were chosen by the novelist Celeste Ng and memoirist and essayist Mary Karr. In “Looking for a Thief,” by Danielle Lazarin, a suburban mother questions her choices. The story is performed by Heather Burns. And Burton reads Tillie Olsen’s “I Stand Here Ironing,” in which another mother wonders if she’s done right by a challenging first child.

Nov 14, 2019
Reality Checks

Guest host Josh Radnor presents two stories about expectation, hope and disenchantment. A navy wife isn't charmed by the Riviera, until a chance encounter changes everything, in Richard Yates' “Evening on the Côte d’Azur," read by Edie Falco. And a video parlor run by a lonely widower is the source of solace and catastrophe in an early George Saunders story. Josh Radnor reads “Offloading for Mrs. Schwartz.” 

Nov 07, 2019
An Evening with LeVar Burton

Guest host LeVar Burton presents two of his favorite stories. In Lucia Berlin’s “Friends,” the characters have different ideas about who benefits from their weekly lunches. The reader is Lydia Gaston. Next, Burton himself reads Jocelyn Nicole Johnson’s powerful “Control Negro,” in which an academic and father tries a real-world experiment to prove a theory about racism.  

Oct 31, 2019
Too Hot For Radio: Patrick Dacey "To Feel Again The Kind of Love That Hurts Something Terrible"

The title of today’s story is a mouthful - “To Feel Again the Kind of Love That Hurts Something Terrible” - but trust us, you'll devour every word. It's by the writer Patrick Dacey, author of the novel, The Outer Cape, and a story collection, We’ve Already Gone This Far, and he’s a favorite of George Saunders, which is how he came to our attention. When we sent this story to one of our favorite readers, John Cameron Mitchell, he got back to us with the note "Wow, you really know how to pick them." Most people know John as the creator and star of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the recent musical podcast, Anthem: Homunculus. He’s also wowed his fair share of Selected Shorts audiences. He certainly did just that to the audience at San Francisco's Sketchfest when he performed this earlier in 2019.

Oct 28, 2019
Hauntings for Halloween

Guest host Kate Burton presents some unusual chillers for Halloween. Edgar Allan Poe is haunted by a childhood memory in Russell Banks’ “The Caul,” performed by Richard Masur. Poe’s eerie “The Raven” is performed by Rene Auberjonois, Fionnula Flanagan, Isaiah Sheffer, and Harris Yulin. A dying emperor tries to communicate in “An Imperial Message,” by Franz Kafka, performed by Kaneza Schaal. And Agatha Christie tells a ghost story in “The Lamp,” performed by Rita Wolf. 

Oct 24, 2019
It All Depends on How You Look at It

Guest host Sonia Manzano presents two stories about identity, appearance, and longing. In Elizabeth Crane’s “Blue Girl,” a young woman learns how to embrace difference. The reader is Valorie Curry. “Different” is certainly how you’d describe the folktale character Rumplestiltskin, but in Michael Cunningham’s remix, that doesn’t keep him from wanting a normal life. Zach Grenier reads “Little Man.”

Oct 17, 2019
Celebrating James Baldwin

Guest host LeVar Burton presents a program celebrating the author he calls “potent and polemical.” Christopher Jackson reads an excerpt from Baldwin’s famous letter The Fire Next Time: in “My Dungeon Shook,” he addresses internalized racism. Next, Anthony Rapp performs an excerpt from Giovanni's Room, in which an ex-pat comes to terms with his sexuality and loneliness in Paris. And Baldwin contemplates The Great Migration in his novel Go Tell It On The Mountain. We hear an excerpt performed by Charlayne Woodard. 

Oct 10, 2019
Fables and Fairytales

Guest host Josh Radnor presents three stories drawn from the world of fables and fairytales, but with a modern twist. Maulik Pancholy reads Somerset Maugham’s “Appointment in Samarra”; when your time is up, it’s up. Ben Loory gives us a kinder, gentler take on the old “monster in the closet” idea in “The Monster,” read by John Cameron Mitchell. Kelly Link’s “The Faery Handbag” is part folk tale, part love story, part coming-of-age story. It’s read by Kirsten Vangsness.  

Oct 03, 2019
Too Hot For Radio: Robin Hemley "Reply All"

A thrilling and laugh-out-loud funny account of how a cheating couple broadcast their affair to an entire listserv. This story was read by two very funny actors during Selected Shorts’ annual visit to the Getty Center in Los Angeles. D’Arcy Carden is a performer whose credits include Barry, Broad City, and the beloved Janet on The Good Place; Baron Vaughn can be seen on Grace and Frankie and heard on the reboot of Mystery Science Theater 3000, as well as Corporate on Comedy CentralRobin Hemley is an accomplished fiction and nonfiction writer who has won both a Pushcart Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has written more than a dozen books including Do-Over!, and The Big Ear, as well as a forthcoming book (nonfiction) in March titled Borderline Citizen: Dispatches from the Outskirts of Nationhood. Our story, "Reply All" appears in his collection titled 21012 Reply All.

Oct 01, 2019
Words Without Borders

Guest host Kate Burton presents three stories in translation selected with the international literary organization Words Without Borders. A wealthy woman winds up on the other side of the poverty line in Évelyne Trouillot’s “Detour,” performed by Rita Wolf and Arian Moayed, and introduced by Siri Hustvedt.  A civil servant becomes a soccer star in Reka Man-Varhegyi’s "Woman Striker Has Killer Left Foot,” performed by Adina Verson. And two teenage misfits visit a chimp in “Muzaffer and Bananas” by Yalçın Tosun, performed by Arian Moayed, and introduced by Karan Mahajan.

Sep 26, 2019
Quiet Time

Guest host David Sedaris presents two stories about quiet times. Leonard Nimoy reads Raymond Carver's classic "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love," which is what perplexes the married couples sitting around drinking gin on a slow summer evening.  It's also summer in Bernard Malamud's "A Summer's Reading," and a rootless young man is trying to find a path in life. David Rakoff was the reader.

Sep 19, 2019
Larger Than Life

Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents two stories about characters who are a little larger than life. First, the story that inspired the Hollywood classic All About Eve, Mary Orr’s “The Wisdom of Eve,” performed by Stana Katic. Next, in Louise Erdrich’s powerful mother-daughter story “The Leap” a former trapeze artist pushes herself to the limit. It’s read by Elizabeth Reaser.  

Sep 12, 2019
On Being

Guest host Krista Tippett, of On Being, presents short fiction and poems that confront issues of art, faith, and spirituality.

First, a clergyman is tempted in "The Strength of God, Concerning the Reverend Curtis Hartman" by Sherwood Anderson, read by James Naughton. In Elizabeth Crane's "You Must Be This Happy to Enter" a time-travelling artist has a positive attitude. The reader is Claire Danes. A gold digger has second thoughts in Anton Chekhov's "An Enigmatic Nature," read by Fionnula Flanagan. Also featured are poems by Tracy K. Smith and David Whyte.

Sep 05, 2019
Under the Surface
Aug 29, 2019
Too Hot For Radio: ZZ Packer "Gideon"
Aug 26, 2019
Curious Courtships
Aug 22, 2019
Lovers and Gangsters: Richard Price Favorites
Aug 15, 2019
Someone’s Listening
Aug 08, 2019
Dynamic Duos
Aug 01, 2019
Too Hot For Radio: Etgar Keret "Jet Lag"
Jul 29, 2019
Forgiving and Forgetting
Jul 25, 2019
Seeking Love
Jul 18, 2019
Laugh or Cry
Jul 11, 2019
Mending Families
Jul 04, 2019
Shout It Out: The Stonewall Uprising at 50
Jun 27, 2019
Magic and Realism: Clarice Lispector
Jun 20, 2019
Women's Roles
Jun 13, 2019
Make 'Em Laugh: A Celebration of James Thurber
Jun 06, 2019
Learn from Your Mistakes
May 30, 2019
Front Lines
May 23, 2019
Dance in America
May 16, 2019
I Did It My Way
May 09, 2019
Uncharted Territories
May 02, 2019
Modern Fables
Apr 25, 2019
Laugh Riot: The Best of the Harvard Lampoon
Apr 18, 2019
Courtship and What Comes After
Apr 11, 2019
Untrue Love
Apr 04, 2019
After Life
Mar 28, 2019
Riverhead at 25
Mar 21, 2019
Twice Told: Stories Inspired by Books
Mar 14, 2019
Mar 07, 2019
Longings and Secrets
Feb 28, 2019
Against All Odds
Feb 21, 2019