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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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).
Thank you Meg, we’ll let you know
Love the stories, but I’m fast forwarding past the intros, outros and interstitial comments.
Can you please just tell me a story, let me savor and reflect on it, and save the writer’s workshop prattle for another podcast?
No stories here
What is this? There are only 16 episodes and maybe a third are stories; it’s mostly interviews and discussions. I realize many hosts desperately want to make a living talking to interesting people or sharing their thoughts, but don’t deceive us by pretending this is a fiction podcast.
What has happened?
I’ve been listening to and loving selected shorts for the past five years. The stories used to be diverse, imaginative and fun. Unfortunately, it seems all recent stories center around race. The most recent story refers to characters as “ White lady” “Black lady”, and repeats this over and over throughout the story. Seems very divisive. Rather than promoting togetherness (or even just tell a story) you promote racism by separating and distinguishing characters only by their race. Is everyone so woke that this is now the norm? They also make a point to talk about children sexual ways in most stories. Sadistic and sick.