April 3, 2011 For Round 6 of our contest, we asked you to send us original works of fiction where one of the characters tells a joke and one of the characters cries. After reading more than 4,000 of your entries, we have a new winner in our short-story contest.
<iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/134982670/135096029" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
April 3, 2011 My father tells a joke about a saint and a criminal who meet at a bar. He forgets the punchline, but I get his meaning. I am supposed to be one, my brother the other. Until yesterday, I might have known which one I am, but now I could be either.
March 24, 2011 Exhausted from being up all night, KC squeezes her way up the crowded aisle of Dulles's ancient, space-age mobile lounge. She has never needed to sit down so badly, and yet this morning there is standing room only. She straightens her little blue flight attendant scarf and hopes she doesn't look as bad as she feels.
March 24, 2011 I ride the bus by choice. The judge chose to take my drivers license away when I pled guilty to driving under the influence. The bus can change the way you see the world. For instance, I never thought that I would envy a man sitting alone behind the wheel of a 20-year-old Ford Taurus, but riding the bus will do that for you.
March 20, 2011 It began because of the Christmas tree. It was his job to carry the tree in and out of the house, to set it up in its metallic stand. It was her job to put the ornaments on and then take them off again. She had finished her task three days before and still the tree sat in its corner, nude, dead, the floors around it littered with discarded needles.
March 18, 2011 My mom has a magnetic force around her. Rootless things fly through the air toward her and land at her feet. Five husbands did, one right after the other. She was 15 years old when Number One appeared.
March 13, 2011 We're still reading through the nearly 4,000 short stories listeners submitted during this round of our Three Minute Fiction contest. Until then, we're bringing you excerpts of stories that have caught our eye. This week, NPR's Susan Stamberg reads a passage from Nora by Jesse Padilla of Normal, Ill., and Bob Mondello reads a passage from Duck Hunting by Michael Mount of Winston-Salem, N.C.
<iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/134516036/134516019" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
March 11, 2011 The trigger and the ring around the trigger were rubbed down into the deeper skin of brass, where the oil of the hands was still built in waves. The sight down the groove of the barrels was still perfect and still straight. I put it into her hands and they bent under the weight of it.
March 11, 2011 Everyone at your wake condemned your lipstick — especially your sister, Horencia. Uncle Ernesto, loyal to Aunt Horencia's caprices, tried to scrub it off with his handkerchief. "Your aunt was not that type of woman," Nora, Aunt Horencia scowled weeks later. Only me and Carmen know it was your idea.
March 5, 2011 At the grocery store, my wife and I spend an hour walking in circles looking for beer. Our new American friends must think that we are suffering from the effects of the war.
March 4, 2011 Ruth needs to rest her elbows on the table these days, even to reach out and cut a piece of the little yellow cake I bought at the supermarket on my way over. She flops a thin slice onto her plate and pulls it towards her. What would my mother have said, to see me leaning on the table like this? She laughs quietly and shakes her head.
February 26, 2011 My grandmother's song would make her wooden dolls dance without strings, something I have sought to do in my own relationships without much success. Perhaps my song is not strong enough, or perhaps I would be better off with stiffer relationships than the blood and bone-based lovers I've chosen... or that have chosen me.
February 26, 2011 For the past five weeks, we've been reading the nearly 4,000 original stories that were submitted to Round 6 of our short-story contest. Meanwhile, we caught up with our judge, novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, to find out her favorite stories so far.
<iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/134088164/134091099" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
February 25, 2011 Seems there is always somebody getting killed in Georgia. Guess that's why we have so many ghost stories. I suppose slaves brought their stories and others like mean ole' Mr. Byrom just made 'um up out of spite to scare little kids. Or maybe he was just plain filled up with haints and had to let'm out 'cause they were poisoning his insides.
February 20, 2011 It doesn't take a genius to get that not every joke flies. Or that there are certain audiences with whom perfectly good jokes should not be shared. Making jokes is, after all, an inherently risky behavior.
NPR thanks our sponsors
Become an NPR sponsor