Selected Shorts

Selected Shorts

From PRI

Spellbinding short stories by established and emerging writers take on a new life when they are performed by stars of the stage and screen.More from Selected Shorts »

Most Recent Episodes

Episode 14 Denis Johnson "Emergency" with Guest Host Josh Radnor

A story by the widely respected American author Denis Johnson. Johnson is many things: a poet, playwright, novelist and the writer of the incredible linked short story collection, Jesus' Son, where we found "Emergency." Published in 1992, the collection is considered one of the best works of fiction in recent years.

Episode 14 Denis Johnson "Emergency" with Guest Host Josh Radnor

Queens and Babies

Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents two stories about extreme love. In "Magic and Dread," an excerpt from Jenny Offill's novel Dept. of Speculation, a new mother is exhausted and exhilarated. The reader is Kaneza Schaal. Broadway star BD Wong reads the story of the doomed love affair between a Trojan warrior and Dido, the Queen of Carthage, from Virgil's Aeneid.

Overcome: A Valentine's Day Special

Guest host Michael Cerveris presents three unusual love stories. A goofy guy meets the girl of his dreams in a really strange way in "Chainsaw Apple," by Arthur Bradford, read by Josh Radnor. Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov recalls a ten-year-olds' "First Love," read by Edward Herrmann. And a desperate housewife's plans for adventure are foiled in Dorothy Thomas's "The Getaway," read by Mia Dillon.

Episode 13 Aimee Bender "Quiet Please" with Guest Host Josh Radnor

Josh Radnor steps into the hosting chair to introduce a story by a frequent Shorts' contributor, Aimee Bender, but one that never had a chance to make the radio show. "Quiet Please" has been described as a "racy modern fairy tale," and we think you'll agree after hearing actress Valorie Curry bring it to life. After the story, Josh and Aimee talk about writing, reading, and dinner parties.

Episode 13 Aimee Bender "Quiet Please" with Guest Host Josh Radnor

Art and Artists

On this program, guest host Jane Curtin presents four stories involving art and artists. Love is the enemy of art in Stacey Richter's "The Minimalist," read by Parker Posey; a lonely boy and an aging painter are friends in William Boyd's "Varengeville," read by Dan Stevens; and Dolan Morgan and Helen Phillips offer two surreal stories about home life and parenting, inspired by a mural artist Ed Ruscha's created for New York City's High Line. The readers are Rita Wolf and Heather Burns.

Coming and Going: Best American Short Stories

Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents three works from The Best American Short Stories 2016, selected by Junot Diaz. An American student meets her Ethiopian relatives in "The Suitcase," by Meron Hadero, read by Renée Elise Goldsberry . A young boy sees something unbelievable in Daniel O'Malley's "The Bridge," read by Joan Allen. And an endangered parrot pleads for compassion in "The Great Silence," by Ted Chiang, read by Elizabeth Rodriguez.

Episode 12 Benjamin Nugent "God"

Today's story isn't about the eternal being who created and preserves all things, but another kind of god, a god that manages to take down a frat house. The idea for Benjamin Nugent's story "God" came from one of his students. He explains: "One of my best creative writing students, Megan Kidder, a well mannered girl from rural Maine with dyed black hair, a silver nose ring, and a studded belt dropped by my office and informed me, 'I wrote a poem about how this one guy prematurely ejaculated...'" "God" was published in The Paris Review and host Aparna Nancherla talks to the editor of that magazine, Lorin Stein, in this program. The story is read by actor Justin Kirk, best known for his roles in the screen adaptation of Angels in America and his years on the TV show Weeds.

Guilty Consciences

Guest host David Sedaris presents two stories about people who have guilty consciences—or ought to. In "Juniper Tree," by Lorrie Moore, a trio of old friends visits a fourth friend—who's just died. It's read by Jill Eikenberry. And there's a poison pen at work in a picturesque town, in Shirley Jackson's "The Possibility of Evil," read by Dana Ivey.

Against All Odds

Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents two stories about people who beat the odds. In Lauren Groff's "At the Round Earth's Imagined Corners," read by Amy Ryan, a sensitive boy grows up in a house full of snakes. Then, writer Kiese Laymon recalls coming of age in racist Jackson, Mississippi in his memoir "How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America," read by Brandon J. Dirden.

Episode 11 Roxane Gay "How"

From award-winning American feminist writer, Roxane Gay, we feature a powerful story about feeling trapped and wanting to run away. "How" is from Gay's new story collection Difficult Women which explores women's lives and issues of race, class and sex. Yes, it's a dark story, but hopeful, too. Reader Amber Tamblyn, a friend of Gay's, is known for her work on The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Joan of Arcadia and Two and A Half Men.

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