14 episodes

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. Produced and distributed by Symphony Space.

Selected Shorts Symphony Space

    • Arts

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. Produced and distributed by Symphony Space.

    Revise the Rules

    Revise the Rules

    Guest host Roxane Gay presents three stories in which personal codes and rules of behavior are tested. In “Miss Laura’s School for Esquire Men,” by Carmen Maria Machado, hopelessly macho men are learning to be kinder and gentler.  The reader is Emily Skeggs.  A schoolroom friendship comes at a high price in “Rubberdust” by Sarah Thankam Mathews, performed by Purva Bedi.  The story was included in Best American Short Stories 2020 by guest editor Curtis Sittenfeld.  A highly principled dogwalker contemplates a big change in Lydia Millet’s “Sir Henry,” performed by John Lithgow.

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    Mending Families

    Mending Families

    Guest host Maulik Pancholy presents two stories about families. In Heather Monley’s “Paddle to Canada,” a risky family boating trip becomes contested history. Jenna Ushkowitz is the reader.  And Jamel Brinkley’s “A Family” shows people coming together in unexpected ways after a loss. Brandon J. Dirden performs this Best American Short Stories 2019 selection.  

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    Reading the Russians with George Saunders

    Reading the Russians with George Saunders

    Guest host Kate Burton presents three Russian classics that reflect on the humor, humanism, and poetry of this great literary tradition, from an evening curated by Saunders.  In addition to his award-winning short-story anthologies and novel, Saunders teaches at Syracuse University.  In “After the Theatre,” by Anton Chekhov, a young girl writes imaginary love letters.  The reader is Donna Lynne Champlin.  “The Porcelain Doll” by Leo Tolstoy is based on a letter he wrote to his young sister-in-law—about his own wife!  BD Wong is the reader.  Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Bobok” may remind some of Saunders’ own Lincoln in the Bardo.  A dotty civil servant overhears the conversations of the dead, who are voiced by Becca Blackwell, Peter Jay Fernandez, Santino Fontana, Zach Grenier, Ann Harada, and Peter Mark Kendall. 

    And a special treat follows “Bobok.”  Anna Dzhanaeva and Luba Lapina, members of the Moscow English Literature Club, read excerpts from “After the Theatre” and “The Porcelain Doll” in Russian.

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    Too Hot For Radio: Tiphanie Yanique "The Special World"

    Too Hot For Radio: Tiphanie Yanique "The Special World"

    A gorgeous story read by actor Hampton Fluker (The Blind Side, Patriots Day, and Shades of Blue) about race, leaving home, and the dramas of young life. After the reading, host Aparna Nancherla talks with the delightful author Tiphanie Yanique about, well, just about everything.

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    Make ‘Em Laugh: A Celebration of James Thurber

    Make ‘Em Laugh: A Celebration of James Thurber

    Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents a program celebrating the great American humorist in some of the many genres in which he was drop-dead funny. Thurber confesses that he’s all thumbs in “I Break Everything I Touch,” performed by Keith Olbermann. Who knew that The Bard wrote whodunnits? Find out who in “The Macbeth Murder Mystery,” performed by Michael McKean and Susannah Rogers. Kristine Nielsen, Susannah Rogers, and Keith Olbermann perform a selection of Thurber’s fables, and McKean reads “Many Moons,” Thurber’s charming fairy tale about a princess who wants the moon.

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    Test the Waters

    Test the Waters

    Guest host Hope Davis presents two coming-of-age stories that mingle memory, rebirth, and water.  Davis herself reads Elizabeth McCracken’s “It’s Not You,” in which a young woman checks into a grand hotel to cure a broken heart.   And from Isaac Babel, the Russian-Jewish author who wrote beguiling tales about the seamy side of early 20th century Odessa, comes "In the Basement.”  It has a familiar premise—the unlikely friendship between a poor boy and a rich one.  But Babel’s lush descriptions and comic energy make it remarkable.  The reader is Richard Masur.

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