Selected Shorts

By Symphony Space

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Subscribers: 2567
Reviews: 3

 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
Great Escapes

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three works that contemplate a way out—of our lives, and even of this world.  In Joe Meno’s “Books You Read,” performed by Joan Allen, a young boy helps his jaded teacher to love reading again.  J. Robert Lennon takes us into deep space and a conversation between a computer and a survivor in “Escape Pod W41,” performed by Stephen Lang.  And marriage, and a friendship, are tested in Jac Jemc’s “Infidelity,” performed by Kathleen Chalfant.  All three stories were commissioned for SELECTED SHORTS’ anthology Small Odysseys.


Sep 22, 2022
Wear and Tear

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three works that offer unusual perspectives on clothes and fashion—selling, making, and coveting.  In Anne Enright’s “(She Owns) Everything,” read by Mary-Louise Parker, a saleswoman becomes a compulsive consumer; In “Clothes on the Ground: A Conversation with Leap,” we hear from a Cambodian garment worker, interviewed by Julia Wallace for the compendium Women in Clothes, edited by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, and Leanne Shapton.  Leap is voiced by Jennifer Lim.  And shopping is an antidote to aging in Joanne Harris’s “Faith and Hope Go Shopping,” read by Lois Smith.

Sep 15, 2022
Out of Sight

Host Meg Wolitzer shares three stories about people who put things out of sight—and try to put them out of mind. In Lisa Ko’s “Nightlife,” read by Vanessa Kai, a pair of friends quietly sidestep feelings that might complicate their relationship. A teacher tries to help a parent see who her child really is in “The Hole” by Patrick Cottrell, performed by Becca Blackwell. And Elizabeth Strout brings us a beautiful and devastating story of a woman grappling with whether to put her mother into institutional care in “Home,” performed by Mia Dillon. Strout talks with Wolitzer after the reading. All three works were commissioned for the Selected Shorts’ anthology, Small Odysseys.

Sep 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
Rites & Rituals

Guest host David Sedaris offers three stories that question social rites.  “Cultural Relativity” is Charles Johnson’s witty retelling of a classic fairy tale; it’s read by Regina King.  Zadie Smith reads her own “Lazy River”—ostensibly about a failed holiday in Spain, but also a deft satire about Brexit, class, and exploitation.   And the cantankerous spinster In Jean Stafford’s “The Hope Chest” has a Dickensian moment of grace.  Dana Ivey is the reader. 

Sep 01, 2022
Embracing Change

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three stories about change. A playful fantasy, a domestic dilemma, and a private struggle help us to adjust to the idea of transformation, losses, and gains.  In “Sea Monster,” by Seth Fried, performed by Natasha Rothwell, a husband and wife reveal their secret identities to each other.  In “Death by Printer,” by Mira Jacob, a widow learns to cope with loss—and technology.  And a mature woman embraces the self she is becoming in Maile Meloy’s “Period Piece,” performed by Kelli O’Hara.  The last two stories were commissioned for Selected Shorts’ anthology Small Odysseys.

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Aug 25, 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
What's Left Behind

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three diverse stories that look at what gets left behind when life changes, gradually or suddenly. Restless retirees try on the ultimate next step in Greg Ames’ funny “Funeral Platter,” performed by Michael McKean and Annette O’Toole. The family in Julia Alvarez’s “Liberty” are on their way to a new life in America, but it’s difficult leaving the old one behind. The reader is Laura Gómez. And a trainer of guide dogs for the blind learns how to let go, in Amy Hempel's “The Dog of the Marriage,” performed by Joan Allen.

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Aug 11, 2022

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three pieces about marriages that outlive the romance. In Etgar Keret’s “A World without Selfie Sticks,” performed by Tate Donovan, a man meets the woman of his dreams; but she’s from an alternate universe. “On the Honeymoon,” by Javier Marias, a husband has a strange encounter with a woman in the street.  It’s read by Ivan Hernandez.  And in Duncan Birmingham’s “The Cult In My Garage,” performed by Michaela Watkins, an old college buddy turns up, and he’s got a mission. 

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Aug 04, 2022
Too Hot for Radio Rabih Alameddine: "The Prom Terrorists"

An FBI probe into potential terrorists at a prom is the perfect setup for this high-paced satire that covers youth, sex, politics, religion, education, and the government. Written by the award-winning author of Wrong End of the Telescope, and read by Raffi Barsoumian (DC's Legends of Tomorrow and The Vampire Diaries).  It was one of the pieces commissioned by Selected Shorts for its new anthology, Small Odysseys.

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Aug 01, 2022
You've Lost It

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three pieces about losing things: objects, opportunities, a primary sense, a new friendship. In “Any Other” by Jac Jemc, performed by Helen Hong, a woman rejects an offer without knowing the consequences. Namwali Serpell’s “Noseless” is about a loss many experienced during the pandemic; it’s performed by Kyrstina Alabado, Deborah S. Craig, Zach Grenier, and Calvin Leon Smith. And Lauren Groff’s “Such Small Islands” charts the perilous course of a childhood infatuation and betrayal that ends with figurative loss and a literal disappearance. It’s performed by Crystal Dickinson.  In a special bonus: multi-instrumentalist Laura Gibson performs a song inspired by Groff’s story.

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Jul 28, 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