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

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.

Shaken & Stirred

Guest host Jane Curtin introduces stories from an evening hosted by Amy Stewart, author of The Drunken Botanist. Michael Gerber and Jonathan Schwartz parody Raymond Carver in "What We Talk About When We Talk About Doughnuts," read by Joey Slotnik. Corey Ford's "The Office Party," read by Jordan Klepper, is vintage New Yorker humor. And John Cheever introduces a young girl to the alcoholic rituals of her parents in "The Sorrows of Gin," read by Kathleen Chalfant.

Cosy and Chilly: An Agatha Christie Celebration

Guest host David Strathairn introduces two tales by master of mystery Agatha Christie, with special comments by crime novelist Megan Abbott and Christie fan Fran Lebowitz. Lois Smith performs "Miss Marple Tells a Story," in which Christie's spinster sleuth boasts a little, and Hugh Dancy reads "Accident," about a woman with a dark past come to light.

End of the Line

Guest host Jane Kaczmarek introduces four tales about taking things to extremes. She reads Jack Handey's comic tale of life after "Apocalypse." In "Encounters with Unexpected Animals" by Bret Anthony Johnston, a father worries about his son's girlfriend. Kirsten Vangsness reads. Pablo Schreiber brings an imaginative young boy to life in Roald Dahl's "The Wish." In "Indianapolis (Highway 74)" by Sam Shepard, a solitary man encounters an old flame.

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."

Too Hot For Radio Brit Bennett "Ain't That Good News"

A story by the up-and-coming writer Brit Bennett. Bennett is the real friggin' deal: Her debut novel "The Mothers" made a splash in 2016 (soon to be a movie starring Kerry Washington), the same year she was named one of the National Book Foundation's "5 Under 35." She has written essays for The Paris Review, The New York Times and The New Yorker, but remains focused on fiction. While her stories deal with seemingly ordinary people in insular communities, they're like a rocket full of fortune cookies, propulsive and full of canny observations. "Ain't That Good News" is no exception - it's tender, sad, and packs a wallop. Our actor Karen Pittman absolutely nails this reading. Pittman has been in series including The Americans and Luke Cage, and has appeared on Broadway in plays such as Disgraced and Good People.

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