Selected Shorts

By Symphony Space

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Subscribers: 2674
Reviews: 4
Episodes: 16


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
Pride Inside

It’s June, time to celebrate Pride privately and publicly.  Host Meg Wolitzer presents four works that delve into the complexities of love, family and belonging. Ivan E. Coyote’s “No Bikini,” read by Becca Blackwell, offers one child’s act of quiet rebellion. Lovers drift together, and apart, in Michael Cunningham’s “Sleepless,” read by Mike Doyle.  A newish couple faces harsh weather in Deesha Philyaw’s “Snowfall,” read by Michelle Beck, and poet Kay Ulanday Barrett shares their “Song for the Kicked Out.”

Jun 01, 2023
A Point of Honor

On this SELECTED SHORTS, we celebrate Memorial Day.  Host Meg Wolitzer presents two stories that feature men in uniform, codes of honor, and how conflicts can sometime lead to connection.  Maile Meloy’s “Red,” performed by Keith Szarabajka, takes place in London during the Blitz, where a man and woman find a rare moment of peace.  In Kurt Vonnegut’s “The Cruise of the Jolly Roger,” a retired army man searches for the next chapter in his life.  The reader is Teagle F. Bougere.  We also hear Vonnegut’s “Letter Home,” written to his family after being a prisoner-of-war.  It’s read by Jordan Klepper.

May 25, 2023
With a Little Help
Host Meg Wolitzer presents four stories in which characters give, and get, a little assistance, from friends, strangers and family. A daughter copes with a cantankerous parent in “How to Take Dad to the Doctor,” by Jenny Allen, performed by Jennifer Mudge. A woman moves to a new town and makes a strange new friend in Laura van den Berg’s “Friends,” performed by Roberta Colindrez. A Tyrolean café improbably situated in South America is home to mysterious strangers and new and old romances, in Isabel Allende’s “The Little Heidelberg.” It’s performed by Kathleen Turner. And a budding singer and socialist gets unwelcome help from Mom in Grace Paley’s “Injustice,” performed by Jackie Hoffman.
May 18, 2023
The Best American Short Stories

American guest editor Andrew Sean Greer, “The Little Widow from the Capital,” by Yohanca Delgado, performed by Krystina Alabado.  And our second story was selected by John Updike for the volume Best American Stories of the Century.  It’s Grace Stone Coates’ “Wild Plums,” read by Mia Dillon. This episode features on-stage commentary by Greer. It's dedicated to mix engineer Dennis Jacobsen. 

May 11, 2023
No Filter

Host Meg Wolitzer presents two stories about selves obscured and revealed, by characters whose own identities are mysteries to them.In Aimee Bender’s “Un-Selfie, a woman reveals her extraordinary past to a stranger.  The story was a commission for our 2022 Small Odysseys anthology, and is read by Alysia Reiner.  In our second story, “Best Western” by Louise Erdrich, a young wife struggles to maintain a romantic fiction, until the real world crashes in on her.  It’s read by Patricia Kalember.

May 04, 2023
Too Hot For Radio: Erin Somers "Ten Year Affair"

A story with double timelines that depart and converge about marriage, love and the path not taken. Read by Holly Hunter (The Paino, Succession and Mr. Mayor). The story was written by Erin Somers. She has a novel, Stay Up with Hugo Best, and has been published in The Paris Review, The New Yorker and elsewhere. This particular story, "Ten Year Affair," was chosen for the Best American Short Stories collection of 2022. Too Hot is hosted by Aparna Nancerla. This episode includes a conversation between Aparna Nancherla and Erin Somers.

May 01, 2023
The Stories We Tell Ourselves with Brooke Gladstone

Host Meg Wolitzer presents stories chosen by On the Media’s Brooke Gladstone. Gladstone was our guest for a live Selected Shorts event in which all the stories explore the theme of tales we tell ourselves—and others. The title says it all in Mary Gordon’s “My Podiatrist Tells Me a Story about a Boy and a Dog” read by Bebe Neuwirth and Richard Masur. Two imaginative cooks reinvent themselves in a new country in Meron Hadero’s “A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times” read by Chinasa Ogbuagu. And a child imagines an absent parent through her postcards in “Love, Your Only Mother” by David Michael Kaplan, read by Bebe Neuwirth. In addition to Gladstone’s on-stage remarks, this episode features backstage interviews with actors Masur, Neuwirth and Ogbuagu.

Apr 27, 2023
Secret Spaces

Meg Wolitzer presents two stories about secret spaces, and what they represent.  In N.K. Jemisin’s speculative fantasy “Elevator Dancer” a security guard in a totalitarian regime is beguiled by an act of freedom.  The reader is Laura Gomez.  And Hugh Dancy reads Greg Jackson’s “The Hollow,” about a secret room, a purposeless life, and a guy who can’t stop talking about Vincent Van Gogh.


Apr 20, 2023
On Repeat


Meg Wolitzer presents three provocative works about rituals that reshape and define their characters. In “oh she gotta head fulla hair,” by Ntozake Shange, a woman’s attention to her hair consumes her life. The reader is Tamara Tunie. In “Half a Day,” by Naguib Mahfouz, performed by Bruce Altman, time collapses and a lifetime goes by in a flash. And in Charles Baxter’s “Fenstad’s Mother,” a mother and son rehearse old patterns and find new ones. The reader is Edie Falco.

Apr 13, 2023
Too Hot For Radio: Roxane Gay "Men On Bikes"

Roxane Gay's story was published in an issue of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern in which all the authors "covered" a story, in the way a musician might cover a famous song. Gay took a famous Margaret Atwood story, titled "Rape Fantasies," as her inspiration. Both "Rape Fantasies" and "Men on Bikes" are about imagination, revenge and joking about subjects that make people uneasy. It's read by actress Jane Kaczmarek.

Comedian Alison Leiby knows how to make us laugh about a subject people aren't prepared to laugh about. Her solo show "Oh God, a Show About Abortion," had a sold-out run in New York and has been touring the U.S. She and host Aparna Nancherla discuss how she approached finding the funny in a hot button topic.

Mar 06, 2023
Bonus: Meg Wolitzer Talks to Patricia Marx

In this bonus conversation, host Meg Wolitzer talks to friend and New Yorker humorist Patricia Marx about her story “Singin’ in the Acid Rain,” and writing funny.


Feb 09, 2023
Bonus: 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
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
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
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