Selected Shorts

By Symphony Space

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Subscribers: 2627
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 Jun 6, 2022

 Apr 5, 2019

Christine W
 Sep 4, 2018


Our greatest actors transport us through the magic of fiction, one short story at a time. Sometimes funny. Always moving. Selected Shorts connects you to the world with a rich diversity of voices from literature, film, theater, and comedy. New episodes every Thursday, from Symphony Space.

Episode Date
Domestic Rearrangements

A routine that never changes can get old. So this week on Selected Shorts, host Meg Wolitzer presents three stories that shake up domestic life, teaching the characters something new about themselves and their circumstances.   In “Scaffolding Man,” by Jenny Allen, performed by Patricia Kalember, a woman in a drab marriage is intrigued by a “hot” stranger.  In "Myrna's Dad," by Cyn Vargas, a father’s changing occupations hide a family secret.  The reader is Krystina Alabado.   And in “Overtime,” by Hilma Wolitzer (Meg’s mom), read by Becky Ann Baker, a happy couple gets a jolt when the man’s ex moves into their apartment.  After the story, Meg interviews Hilma about what gave her the idea and her writing in general.

Feb 02, 2023
Jokes and Poems with Mike Birbiglia and J. Hope Stein

We reprise a recent favorite this week:  Guest host Jane Curtin presents a cornucopia of jokes, poems, and stories from a live program with comedian Mike Birbiglia and poet J. Hope Stein. The couple shares material from their book, The New One, about the birth of their daughter, as well as works from some of their favorite writers. Among the featured works are stories and poetry by Joy Harjo, Paige Lewis, Ada Limón, Simon Rich, David Sedaris, Maggie Smith, and Zadie Smith. With performances by Mike Birbiglia, Jane Kaczmarek, Carmen Lynch, Andrea Martin, Kaneza Schaal, and J. Hope Stein

Jan 26, 2023
Objects of Love

Host Meg Wolitzer presents two stories about objects of love, and feelings that can't be returned, for very different reasons. In “A Love Letter,” by Greg Ames, a boy falls head over heels in a crosswalk.  Actor and YA author Maulik Pancholy really captures teen ardor and angst in his reading. And in Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s “Sugar Babies,” another teenager learns about adult responsibility from an everyday pantry staple.   The reader is Sonia Manzano, best known for her role on Sesame Street. 

Jan 19, 2023
When Push Comes to Shove: Stories by George Saunders

On this Selected Shorts we turn the show over to universally beloved author George Saunders.  Saunders somehow finds the good, or at any rate the imperfectly human, in his characters. The result is a catalog as funny as it is moving, as devastating as it is hopeful.  On this program, two stories that perfectly illustrate this.  “Love Letter” is from Saunders’ latest collection Liberation Day.  In it, an anxious grandfather who is ambivalent about the state of the world counsels an older grandchild.  “Love Letter” is read by Stephen Colbert.  And a favorite from our archives, “The Falls,” shows us two flawed men given a chance to do the right thing.  Rene Auberjonois reads. Meg Wolitzer interviews Saunders at the end of the show.

Jan 12, 2023
Meg Wolitzer Talks with George Saunders

In this bonus conversation, host Meg Wolitzer talks to friend and Booker Prize-winning author George Saunders about crafting short stories, where ideas come from, and how his work has evolved over the years.


Jan 12, 2023
Too Hot For Radio: Kim Fu "Pre-Simulation Consultation XF007867"

Our new Too Hot episode features a story about memory, fantasy, and a realm somewhere between the two—a place to which we might escape, for a price (calling all Black Mirror and Westworld fans).  It's dark, thoughtful, and surprisingly funny. It was written by author Kim Fu, and is part of her 2022 debut story collection, Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, which among other honors was picked as a TIME Top 10 Fiction Book of 2022. Performed by actors  Kirsten Vangsness, beloved for her long-running role on Criminal Minds, and Justin Kirk, known for series including Weeds, You’re the Worst, and Modern Family. The episode is hosted by Aparna Nancherla.

Jan 09, 2023
On the Run

Host Meg Wolitzer presents two gripping stories about people in flight. In Rebecca Makkai’s “The Briefcase,” performed by Victor Garber, an escaped prisoner assumes another man’s identity. In “Paradise,” by Yxta Maya Murray, a young widow and mother runs from a fire, but can’t escape the challenges of her family life. Tanis Parenteau is the reader.

Jan 05, 2023
New Frontiers

Meg Wolitzer presents three stories about quests and travel, which pose the question “How far do we need to go to find what we want, whether that something be an ephemeral pleasure, a lasting relationship, or a symbolic object?” In Margaret Atwood’s playful origin story “The Martians Claim Canada,” extraterrestrials invade—in search of a good musical. Jane Kaczmarek reads. In Lesley Nneka Arimah’s powerful “Options,” performed by Zainab Jah, a discarded daughter seeks love. And in the third, “Chivalry,” master fantasist Neil Gaiman finds the Holy Grail—in the most unlikely hands. Christina Pickles reads.  


Dec 29, 2022
UnWrapping the Holidays

Meg Wolitzer presents three unexpected stories that let us see the holidays’ associations—family, friends, food, gifts, and goodwill—in different ways.  Amy Krouse Rosenthal presents a playful encounter with the Almighty in “Interview with God,” performed by Jayne Atkinson and James Naughton.  In Sherrie Flick’s “Heidi is Dead,” read by Adina Verson, a second wife tries to tune in with her in-laws. And John Cheever’s “Christmas is a Sad Season for the Poor” is a richly comic and warmhearted look at giving and receiving.  Teagle F. Bougere reads.

Dec 22, 2022
The Stand-Ins

Meg Wolitzer presents a show of stories about replacements and stand-ins.  While we tend to crave the original, sometimes a substitute can bring more happiness. In Steve Almond’s “A Happy Dream,” read by Phil LaMarr, a young man assumes a new identity in pursuit of love.  In “A Brief Note on the Translation of Winter Women, Written by the Collective Dead, Translated by Amal Ruth,” a writer speaks for those who have passed.  The “real” author is Rivers Solomon, and the reader is TL Thompson.  In “Saying Goodbye to Yang,” by Alexander Weinstein a robot child and its human family learn about love all at once. The reader is Tony Hale.

Dec 15, 2022
Prove Your Love

Meg Wolitzer presents a show of stories about our need to have “proof of love”—some demonstration by those nearest and dearest of exactly how much they care.  A lot, in Etgar Keret’s sweetly improbable “Almost Everything,” in which a husband looks for the perfect gift for a demanding wife.  It’s read by Liev Schreiber.  In Jacob Guajardo’s “Conquistadors, on Fairchild,” read by Michael Hartney, old flames reconnect, but it’s not clear where they are headed.And in a classic from our archives, Haruki Murakami’s “Ice Man,” a shy woman marries a man who carries winter within and without.  Jane Curtin is the reader.

Dec 08, 2022
Bonus: Meg Wolitzer Talks to Elizabeth Strout

In this bonus conversation, host Meg Wolitzer talks to friend and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Strout about writing, short stories, and the use of recurring characters in her work.

Sep 08, 2022
What's Your Story?

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three stories about the act of writing and how it can remake us--a prankish skit; a playful and tender investigation of creating with words; and a fraught social encounter between two characters who don’t ‘get’ each other’s stories.  B.J. Novak takes the old saying “Great Writers Steal” literally in a short piece read by Novak and Aasif Mandvi.  In Etgar Keret’s “Creative Writing” a wife writes her way out of grief.  It’s read by Alex Karpovsky.  A dinner party becomes a scene of personal and political tension in Lorrie Moore’s “Foes,” performed by Joan Allen and Kyle MacLachlan.  And Moore joins Wolitzer to talk about the story and creating fiction.

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Aug 18, 2022
Host Meg Wolitzer Talks to Comedian Michael Ian Black

In this bonus conversation, host Meg Wolitzer talks to comedian and writer Michael Ian Black about what he’s been reading and the tricky business of being funny. 

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Jul 21, 2022
Bonus: Meg Wolitzer and Mona Eltahawy Talk Being a Dangerous Woman

In this bonus conversation, host Meg Wolitzer talks to journalist, activist and feminist writer Mona Eltahawy about her life, literature and what it means to be a "dangerous woman."

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Jun 16, 2022
Too Hot for Radio: Helena Araújo "Asthmatic"

A story by the Columbian-born author, set in the turbulent 70’s as a group of would-be radicals devises a plan that quickly goes awry (the narrator might be the most pathetic revolutionary ever). The story is read by Peter Jay Fernandez, translated by Beatriz Teleki. Too Hot is hosted by Aparna Nancherla.

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May 02, 2022
Bonus: Meg Wolitzer and Alison Stewart Talk Fiction

A bonus interview between our host and best-selling author, Meg Wolitzer, and the host of WNYC’s All of It, Alison Stewart. Wolitzer reveals some of the secrets to great writing and the two women share their own reading habits and thoughts about the importance of fiction.

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Apr 14, 2022
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.

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Feb 17, 2022