Selected Shorts

Selected Shorts

By Symphony Space

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.


Beyond Leprechauns

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three works in which characters have unusual friends who change their lives—whether they like it nor not.  In “Unicorn Me,” by Elizabeth Crane, a magical box delivers a unicorn who offers ambiguous advice. Miriam Shor performs.A sentient cockroach intrigues and alarms a woman in “The Double Life of the Cockroach’s Wife,” by Helen Phillips.It’s performed by Sarah Steele. And the latest iPhone knows everything about you in Weike Wang’s “iPhoneSE,” performed by Dawn Akemi Saito. All three stories were commissions for SELECTED SHORTS’ anthology Small Odysseys.
18/07/2456m 5s

Building Worlds With N.K. Jemisin

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three works of speculative fiction curated by best-selling author N.K. Jemisin. In John Scalzi’s “When the Yogurt Took Over” a popular breakfast staple decides it’s good for everyone. The reader is Jin Ha. Chatbots and A.I. can be helpful––but sometimes too helpful––as we hear in Alexandra Chang’s “Me and My Algo,” read by Catherine Cohen. And Jemisin herself reworks a classic by Ursula K. Le Guin in “The Ones Who Stay and Fight,” read by Teagle F. Bougere. Excerpts from Jemisin’s onstage remarks are included in this show.
11/07/2459m 54s

Miracle Grow

Host Meg Wolitzer presents two works about growth helped along by some sort of fantastical assistance. The characters in these pieces are stuck—and consciously or not, they're looking for something to give them just a little push. And that nudge comes in the form of magic. In “Isabella’s Garden,” by Naomi Kritzer, a backyard nature site presents a young family with a new world of fertility. The reader is Jane Kaczmarek. In “My Dear You,” by Rachel Khong, performed by Annie Q, the afterlife provides a perfect platform for questions about love, commitment, and the meaning of forever. After the reading, Wolitzer talks to Khong about the story and her writing process.
04/07/2456m 39s

Too Hot For Radio: Deirdre Coyle "Stakes"

Writer Deirdre Coyle’s fiction and essays have appeared in Electric Literature, Lit Hub, The New Republic, The Texas Observer, Hobart Pulp, and elsewhere. This story, "Stakes," was performed at a show at the Getty Center in L.A., at a show produced in conjunction with the online literary collective, Belletrist Book Club. If you don't know Belletrist, it was founded by committed friends and readers Emma Roberts and Karah Preiss. They recommend new works by an incredible collection of writers, host online conversations and foster a community of like-minded readers. Emma Roberts reads this story, and we feature an interview between host Aparna Nancherla and Karah Preiss in this episode.
01/07/2427m 27s

Count Your Blessings

Host Meg Wolitzer presents two imaginative stories about different ways of thinking about coming together and what we celebrate when we do.  In “On the Sudden Increase in Changeling Stock: A Report,” Daniel Lavery applies a statistical model where you would not expect to find one, with zany results.It’s read by Jin Ha.  In our second work, master storyteller Ray Bradbury wildly reimagines the idea of “Homecoming,” in a story that first captivated reader Neil Gaiman when he was seven years old. 
27/06/2458m 15s

Romance of the Summer

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three lively stories about the allure—or not—of summer. Italian writer Massimo Bontempeli creates a magical beach inside an apartment in “The Miraculous Beach, or Prize for Modesty.” The work was translated by Jenny McPhee and is read by Hugh Dancy. Humorist Samantha Irby doesn’t get summer, and presents a contrarian’s view in “The Case for Remaining Indoors,” read by Retta. And Denis O’Hare reads a baseball classic—W.P. Kinsella’s “The Thrill of the Grass.”

In Dad We Trust -- Maybe

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three stories about fathers and fatherhood. In “Beauty and the Beast” by Simon Rich, a self-absorbed producer gets a little Disney sparkle from his daughter. The reader is Arian Moayed. “Bedtime Story” by Victor LaValle, read by Dion Graham, features a son soothing an anxious father; and a father-daughter hiking trip involves both bonding and danger in Percival Everett’s “Exposure,” read by Denis O’Hare. The show features on-stage remarks by O'Hare about fatherhood and includes comments by Percival Everett and Dion Graham.
13/06/2456m 2s

Picture Perfect

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three works about idealized lives, and ideas about what constitutes an “ideal” life.  “Boy Meets Girl” is Jen Kim’s humorous version of a Hollywood love story.  It’s read by Tony Hale.  In the John Cheever classic “The Worm in the Apple” a couple have the perfect life—but no one can believe it.  It’s read by Anne Meara.  And a harried mother fantasizes about a brand new life in Vanessa Cuti’s “Our Children,” performed by Claire Danes, followed by an interview with Danes..
06/06/241h 1m

Taking Flight with Amy Tan

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three works featuring birds, curated by writer and bird aficionado Amy Tan.  Ben Loory’s “The Frog and the Bird,” is a twist the traditional fable genre; it’s performed by Mike Doyle.  Teenagers are transformed in “Town of Birds,” by Heather Monley, performed by Yetide Badaki; and an avian love song goes viral in Mikkel Rosengaard’s “The Mating Call,” performed by BD Wong.  Tan comments on the program’s theme and the stories and the actors provide backstage commentary.  

Too Hot for Radio: Tim Jones-Yelvington "This Is a Dance Movie"

This story was read at a Selected Shorts show in L.A., hosted by the Getty Center, and co-produced with the Belletrist Book Club, the online reading community created by longtime friends and readers Emma Roberts and Karah Preiss.  Jones-Yelvington is an artist and drag performer who is also a prolific writer. They have written chapbooks, a memoir, a young adult novel and two collections of short fiction, Don't Make Me Do Something We'll Both Regret and This Is a Dance Movie! And the title story of their collection is all about movie cliches, how we might play with them, and the kinds of connection we hope we can achieve in telling our own stories.  Writer and actor Ryan O'Connell performs the story. His book I'm Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves was adapted into the Netflix series Special—in which he starred. His novel Just By Looking at Him came out in 2022, and he has appeared in recent series including the reboot of Queer as Folk.  Our episode was hosted by comedian Aparna Nancherla.
06/05/2430m 56s

Bonus: A Conversation with Elizabeth Strout

 Host Meg Wolitzer talks with author Elizabeth Strout about her story “Home” and the fictional family Strout has created.
04/04/2410m 31s

Meg Wolitzer interviews Louise Erdrich

In this bonus conversation, host Meg Wolitzer talks to author Louise Erdrich about her story; her writing life; and what do with left over index cards. 
15/02/2414m 52s

Bonus: Meg Wolitzer Talks to Denis O’Hare

In this bonus conversation, host Meg Wolitzer talks to actor Denis O’Hare about his craft, and his approaches to readings of the two very different stories on this program.
08/02/2416m 1s

Bonus: Meg Wolitzer Visits Her Favorite Indie Bookstore

Host Meg Wolitzer visits a favorite indie bookstore, Three Lives & Company in Greenwich Village, remembers her early years there as a writer and reader, and is let in on some trade secrets.
29/06/2315m 56s

Bonus: Margaret Atwood and A.M. Homes

In this bonus conversation, writers Margaret Atwood and A.M. Homes discuss everything from feminism, time, writing and dystopian fiction, to Atwood’s new short story collection “Old Babes in the Wood.” The interview was recorded in front of a live audience at Symphony Space.
15/06/2317m 54s

Bonus: Meg Wolitzer Talks to Alison Stewart

In this bonus conversation, host and best-selling author, Meg Wolitzer, talks to host of WNYC’s All of It, Alison Stewart. Wolitzer reveals some of the secrets to great writing and the two share their own reading habits and thoughts about the importance of fiction.
08/06/239m 12s

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. 
09/02/2312m 18s

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. 
12/01/2320m 15s

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.
08/09/2210m 31s

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. Join and give!:
21/07/2219m 22s

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."Join and give!:
16/06/2221m 51s

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. Join and give!:
14/04/229m 12s
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