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

Too Hot For Radio Greg Ames "Benefactor"

A story from Greg Ames, the author of a novel, Buffalo Lockjaw, and a collection of stories entitled Funeral Platter. His work has appeared in Best American Nonrequired Reading, Southern Review, McSweeney's, North American Review, Catapult, and The Sun, among others. "Benefactor," is something of a cautionary tale for all would-be patrons of the arts; please don't let it stop you from sending us your tax-deductible donations. We recorded this story earlier in 2018 as a part of our live show in San Francisco during Sketchfest 2018. It's read by actor Lance Reddick, a multi-talented actor who has been in The Wire, Fringe, Bosch and the new Comedy Central series Corporate.

Fractured Fairy Tales

Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents two stories based on fairy tales. In this time of female empowerment comes a timely story about an unconventional princess. Jane Kaczmarek performs Jeanne Desy's "The Princess Who Stood On Her Own 2 Feet." Brazilian feminist writer Clarice Lispector tackles another damsel in distress in "Beauty and the Beast or The Enormous Wound," performed by Kate Burton .

What is Real?

Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents three stories about strange encounters. A woman's laundry is full of surprises in Diane Cook's "Flotsam," read by Melora Hardin. An ordinary businessman has an extraordinary day in Shirley Jackson's "Paranoia," read by Thomas Gibson. And a young newsie meets a philosophical drifter, in Carson McCullers "A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud," read by Lance Reddick.

I Am America

Guest host Maulik Pancholy presents stories, essays, and poems, and speeches celebrating America's diversity and wealth of stories. An aging father ponders his life in Elizabeth Strout's "The Walk," read by Ellen Burstyn. The whole country's talking in Susan Minot's "Listen," read by Jennifer Ikeda and Khris Lewin. Julia Alvarez faces prejudice and finds her voice in "Speak! Speak!" read by Selenis Leyva, and Henry Louis Gates intros works by 19th century African-American writers from his anthology.

Funny Favorites from Andy Borowitz

Guest host Andy Borowitz shares some of his favorite comic writing: Molly Ivins skewers Texas politics in "Tough as Bob War and Other Stuff," read by Judith Ivey; Sloane Crosley confesses a shameful secret in "The Pony Problem," read by Kirsten Vangsness; Parker Posey gets her feet stepped on in Dorothy Parker's "The Waltz;" and Ian Frazier lays down the law in "Lamentations of the Father," read by Isaiah Sheffer.

Past and Future

Guest host Maulik Pancholy presents a show about the past, the future, and how time flies. A young actor recalls critical moments in her childhood in Elizabeth Strout's "Snow Blind," read by Melora Hardin. Old schoolmates almost hook up in Joyce Carol Oates' "August Evening," read by Sonia Manzano. And a lifetime goes by in "Half a Day," by Naguib Mahfooz, read by Bruce Altman.

Best Friends

Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents two stories featuring man's best friend. In "Pie Dance," by Molly Giles, a complicated family menage includes a dancing dog. Nixon is the reader. And in Maile Meloy's touching "Madame Lazarus," read by Rene Auberjonois, an aging man bonds with his small terrier.

Too Hot For Radio Richard Bausch "Billboard"

Today we're going to hear a story from Richard Bausch. This lifelong writer has produced novels and short story collections including Before During After, Peace, In the Night Season and the 2017 title Living in the Weather of the World. The actor performing it is David Strathairn, who is known for John Sayles films, Good Night and Good Luck, Lincoln, Alphas and so much more. Strathairn brings a lovely restraint to his performances, and as you'll hear, that quality lends a new dimension to Bausch's impulsive and vengeful narrator, a brother done wrong. We recorded this story during a live show in San Francisco as part of Sketchfest.

Animal Magnetism

Guest host Robert Sean Leonard presents three stories with animal connections. Old lovers take stock in Grace Paley's "The Pale Pink Roast," read by Linda Lavin. A boy loves his piggy bank, in Etgar Keret's "Breaking the Pig," read by Campbell Scott. And it's man against dog in "Jerry and Molly and Sam," by Raymond Carver, read by Ana Gasteyer.

Too Hot For Radio Kevin Canty "God's Work"

On this episode, a tale that involves a teenage evangelist coping with teenage lust. "God's Work," by Kevin Canty, was read during the annual Selected Shorts celebration of the Best American Short Stories series. The editor of the 2017 volume—novelist Meg Wolitzer - talks to host Aparna Nancherla after the reading describing Canty's keen insights about his characters which make them easily relatable, and there's some lovely lyricism to his writing, as you'll hear in today's story. The actor reading our story today is Jim True-Frost. Those of you who binge highbrow TV series will know him as "Prez" from The Wire, while others of us, well, we may never stop seeing him as the elevator operator who says "Buddy!" approximately 8,000 times in the "The Hudsucker Proxy."

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