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Selected Shorts


Your favorite actors bringing great stories to life.

Your favorite actors bringing great stories to life.


New York, NY





Your favorite actors bringing great stories to life.




Selected Shorts c/o Symphony Space 2537 Broadway New York, NY 10025-6990 212-864-5400


Two Against the World

Guest host Hope Davis presents two stories in which strong bonds between women are evoked, by authors reflecting very different worlds. In Youmna Chlala’s “Nayla,” read by Rita Wolf, two young women in a traditional community form a friendship. In Susan Perabo’s “Life Off My E,” the relationship between sisters is reflected through their shared love of Scrabble. Hope Davis is the reader.


I Do, I Do

Guest host Jane Curtin presents two stories about marriage. A theatrical union is subtly tested in Bruce Jay Friedman’s “Any Number of Little Old Ladies,” performed by Blythe Danner and Maulik Pancholy. And love is stretched thin, but rebounds, in Roxana Robinson’s “In Naples,” read by Betty Buckley.


Best Intentions

Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents two stories in which people go overboard to demonstrate their devotion. In Robin Hemley’s “A Printer’s Tale,” a poet’s boyfriend hijacks a national magazine for her love--and one reader isn’t pleased. Reader Robert Sean Leonard brings an eccentric trio to life. In “Oh Shenandoah,” by Maura Stanton, a determined young woman wants to call it quits with her overzealous fiancé. But they’re in Venice—and there’s this toilet seat problem. Broadway powerhouse Kelli...


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

A story by the writer Brit Bennett, "Ain't That Good News" is tender, sad, and packs a wallop. You'll be completely hooked. Bennett's 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.” Her new novel, The Vanishing Half, published in June, is already a New York Times bestseller and has garnered reviews like, "This is sure to be one of 2020’s best and boldest," Elle, and...



Guest host Hope Davis presents three uncanny stories featuring children. In Simon Rich’s hilarious “The Baby,” a novelist faces competition from his unborn son. Jason Mantzoukas is the reader. A children’s game takes a strange turn in Fiona McFarlane’s “Buttony,” read by Jin Ha. And Etgar Keret offers up an unusual mother-son story—and lots of calories--in “Crumb Cake,” performed by Andy Richter.


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. In our final story, a lifetime goes by in “Half a Day,” by Naguib Mahfooz, read by Bruce Altman.


Journeys, Memories, and Miracles: Italian Short Stories

Guest host Hope Davis presents a program of Italian short fiction selected by the novelist and short-story writer Jhumpa Lahiri. The stories were drawn from The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories, which Lahiri edited. They range from the comic to the fantastical. In Leonardo Sciascia’s “The Long Voyage,” hopeful peasants try to make it to a mysterious place called “Trenton.” The reader is John Turturro. A couple hopes to restore pre-World War II elegance in “Invitation to Dinner,” by Alba...


Celebrating Toni Morrison

Guest host Tayari Jones helps us to celebrate this American master, who died in 2019. Her novels, including Beloved, Jazz and Song of Solomon, have become an indelible part of the American canon. Her fierce, poetic visions earned her the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was also an editor, advocate, teacher, and mother. This program features her essay “A Knowing So Deep,” read by Jones; an excerpt from The Bluest Eye, read by Anika Noni Rose; an...


Too Hot For Radio: Mona Simpson "Wrong Object"

Mona Simpson is the author of six books including Anywhere But Here, My Hollywood and Casebook. Her Too Hot For Radio story features a therapist, a patient, and one uniquely inappropriate relationship.This story was originally published in Harper’s and selected by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All The Light You Cannot See, Anthony Doerr, for The Best American Short Stories 2019 for which he served as the guest editor. Read by the incomparable Cynthia Nixon, the story can be described...


Shout it Out: The Stonewall Uprising at 50

Guest host Denis O’Hare helps us mark the landmark event that helped give birth to the modern movement for LGBTQIA+ rights in America. We first hear eyewitness accounts of the riots, drawn from The Stonewall Reader. Additional works include Perry Brass’s “We Did It”; poems by Kay Ulanday Barrett; and Gary Eldon Peter’s story “Wedding.” Readers include Ivory Aquino, Kate Bornstein, Michael Early, Beth Malone, Kay Ulanday Barrett, and John Benjamin Hickey.



Guest host Hope Davis presents two stories in which things get out of hand. Rumors and recriminations fly in “Belles Lettres,” by Nafissa Thompson-Spires, as rival mothers defend their daughters’ reputations at a posh school--at any cost. The readers are Eboni Booth, Shalewa Sharpe, and Mary Karr. And we hear Shirley Jackson’s lighter side in “About Two Nice People,” in which neighbors seem to be getting mixed messages from one another. The readers are Lilli Cooper, Ethan Slater, and Julie...


Not Your Mother’s Love Stories

Guest host Dennis O’Hare presents two unorthodox love stories at a time when we could all use a little love. British writer Jane Gardam twists Hans Christian Andersen’s tale in a saucy reboot of “The Little Mermaid.” Her version, “The Pangs of Love,” is read by Jane Kaczmarek. And Sharon Gless performs “Hat Trick,” by Edith Pearlman, in which four young girls choose husbands by chance.


More Funny Favorites from Andy Borowitz

Guest host Andy Borowitz intros four hilarious pieces featured in his anthology The 50 Funniest American Writers. James Naughton reads S.J. Perelman’s noir parody “Farewell, My Lovely Appetizer;” Susan Orlean complains about idle tots in “Shiftless Little Loafers,” read by Dave Hill; old-time radio is revealed in Jean Shepherd’s “The Counterfeit Secret Circle Member Gets the Message,” read by Isaiah Sheffer; and one woman’s all-nighter, in Jenny Allen’s “Awake,” read by Jane Kaczmarek.


Too Hot For Radio: Stories by Elizabeth Crane and Michael Czyniejewski

Our friend Michael Ian Black is back to host a twofer Too Hot For Radio episode. First up is actor K. Todd Freeman reading“Pregnant with Peanut Butter” by Michael Czyniejewski. Czyniejewski is the author of three story collections, including Our Bedroom and I Will Love You for the Rest of My Life: Breakup Stories. Performing this story is an actor known for everything from multiple appearances on Broadway to Buffy the Vampire SlayertoA Series of Unfortunate Events. Elizabeth Crane is the...



Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents three stories with surprising twists and turns, a reminder that surprises can still be entertaining, even though the world has changed in unpredictable ways. A wife finds something unexpected in her local thrift shop in “Second Hand,” by Andres Neuman. The story is performed by Kaczmarek. Dawn Powell’s “Dinner on the Rocks” is an elegant comedy of bad manners, performed by Christina Pickles. And the salesman in Hubert Selby Jr.’s “Fortune Cookie” thinks...


I Am America

Guest host Maulik Pancholy presents stories, essays, and poems, and speeches celebrating America’s diversity and wealth of stories, at a time when we need to know we are together, even when we are apart. 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...


Fractured Fairy Tales

Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents two stories based on fairy tales. We need good stories more than ever now. Traditional fairy tales always have a lesson, and these new versions are guaranteed to offer up some pearls about staying strong in difficult times. First, a story about an unconventional princess. Jane Kaczmarek performs Jeanne Desy’s “The Princess Who Stood On Her Own 2 Feet.” And Brazilian feminist writer Clarice Lispector shares a wealthy woman’s moment of truth in “Beauty and...


What Strangers See

In this time of sheltering, we think one of the things that’s magical about short stories is that they bring the world to you. On this program, guest host Michael Cerveris presents two stories about the difference between what other people observe about us, and who we actually are. Even though we’re all mostly “home alone” right now, these pieces remind us that when we are out in the world, our inner and outer selves can be very different. Cerveris reads “Riding the Doghouse,” a great...


Funny Favorites from Andy Borowitz

Goodness knows we could all use a laugh right now. So this week we’re offering a Selected Shorts program full of funny stories selected by Andy Borowitz, who’s funny in so many ways. The late columnist Molly Ivins sticks it to pompous politicians in “Tough as Bob War and Other Stuff,” performed by Judith Ivey. Essayist Sloane Crosley reveals a shameful habit in “The Pony Problem,” performed by Kirsten Vangsness. Parker Posey delivers a classic Dorothy Parker rant (two Parkers, no waiting)...


Too Hot For Radio: Hilary Mantel "The Long QT"

We're rebroadcasting one of our earlier episodes in honor of the long-awaited publication of The Mirror & the Light, author Hilary Mantel's final chapter of the trilogy she began with her peerless, Booker Prize-winning novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. We found this story in her often wicked short story collection The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher. “The Long QT” features a standard, modern-day dilemma that delivers an entirely unexpected sort of fright at the end. Host Aparna...