Selected Shorts


Our greatest actors transport us through the magic of fiction, one short story at a time. Sometimes funny. Always moving. Selected Shorts connects you to the world with a rich diversity of voices from literature, film, theater, and comedy. New episodes every Thursday, from Symphony Space.


New York, NY





Our greatest actors transport us through the magic of fiction, one short story at a time. Sometimes funny. Always moving. Selected Shorts connects you to the world with a rich diversity of voices from literature, film, theater, and comedy. New episodes every Thursday, from Symphony Space.




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


Domestic Rearrangements

A routine that never changes can get old. So this week on Selected Shorts, host Meg Wolitzer presents three stories that shake up domestic life, teaching the characters something new about themselves and their circumstances. In “Scaffolding Man,” by Jenny Allen, performed by Patricia Kalember, a woman in a drab marriage is intrigued by a “hot” stranger. In "Myrna's Dad," by Cyn Vargas, a father’s changing occupations hide a family secret. The reader is Krystina Alabado. And in “Overtime,” by...


Jokes and Poems with Mike Birbiglia and J. Hope Stein

We reprise a recent favorite this week: Guest host Jane Curtin presents a cornucopia of jokes, poems, and stories from a live program with comedian Mike Birbiglia and poet J. Hope Stein. The couple shares material from their book, The New One, about the birth of their daughter, as well as works from some of their favorite writers. Among the featured works are stories and poetry by Joy Harjo, Paige Lewis, Ada Limón, Simon Rich, David Sedaris, Maggie Smith, and Zadie Smith. With performances...


Objects of Love

Host Meg Wolitzer presents two stories about objects of love, and feelings that can't be returned, for very different reasons. In “A Love Letter,” by Greg Ames, a boy falls head over heels in a crosswalk. Actor and YA author Maulik Pancholy really captures teen ardor and angst in his reading. And in Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s “Sugar Babies,” another teenager learns about adult responsibility from an everyday pantry staple. The reader is Sonia Manzano, best known for her role on Sesame Street.


When Push Comes to Shove: Stories by George Saunders

On this Selected Shorts we turn the show over to universally beloved author George Saunders. Saunders somehow finds the good, or at any rate the imperfectly human, in his characters. The result is a catalog as funny as it is moving, as devastating as it is hopeful. On this program, two stories that perfectly illustrate this. “Love Letter” is from Saunders’ latest collection Liberation Day. In it, an anxious grandfather who is ambivalent about the state of the world counsels an older...


Meg Wolitzer Talks with George Saunders

In this bonus conversation, host Meg Wolitzer talks to friend and Booker Prize-winning author George Saunders about crafting short stories, where ideas come from, and how his work has evolved over the years.


Too Hot For Radio: Kim Fu "Pre-Simulation Consultation XF007867"

Our new Too Hot episode features a story about memory, fantasy, and a realm somewhere between the two—a place to which we might escape, for a price (calling all Black Mirror and Westworld fans). It's dark, thoughtful, and surprisingly funny. It was written by author Kim Fu, and is part of her 2022 debut story collection, Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, which among other honors was picked as a TIME Top 10 Fiction Book of 2022. Performed by actors Kirsten Vangsness, beloved for her...


On the Run

Host Meg Wolitzer presents two gripping stories about people in flight. In Rebecca Makkai’s “The Briefcase,” performed by Victor Garber, an escaped prisoner assumes another man’s identity. In “Paradise,” by Yxta Maya Murray, a young widow and mother runs from a fire, but can’t escape the challenges of her family life. Tanis Parenteau is the reader.


New Frontiers

Meg Wolitzer presents three stories about quests and travel, which pose the question “How far do we need to go to find what we want, whether that something be an ephemeral pleasure, a lasting relationship, or a symbolic object?” In Margaret Atwood’s playful origin story “The Martians Claim Canada,” extraterrestrials invade—in search of a good musical. Jane Kaczmarek reads. In Lesley Nneka Arimah’s powerful “Options,” performed by Zainab Jah, a discarded daughter seeks love. And in the third,...


UnWrapping the Holidays

Meg Wolitzer presents three unexpected stories that let us see the holidays’ associations—family, friends, food, gifts, and goodwill—in different ways. Amy Krouse Rosenthal presents a playful encounter with the Almighty in “Interview with God,” performed by Jayne Atkinson and James Naughton. In Sherrie Flick’s “Heidi is Dead,” read by Adina Verson, a second wife tries to tune in with her in-laws. And John Cheever’s “Christmas is a Sad Season for the Poor” is a richly comic and warmhearted...


The Stand-Ins

Meg Wolitzer presents a show of stories about replacements and stand-ins. While we tend to crave the original, sometimes a substitute can bring more happiness. In Steve Almond’s “A Happy Dream,” read by Phil LaMarr, a young man assumes a new identity in pursuit of love. In “A Brief Note on the Translation of Winter Women, Written by the Collective Dead, Translated by Amal Ruth,” a writer speaks for those who have passed. The “real” author is Rivers Solomon, and the reader is TL Thompson. In...


Prove Your Love

Meg Wolitzer presents a show of stories about our need to have “proof of love”—some demonstration by those nearest and dearest of exactly how much they care. A lot, in Etgar Keret’s sweetly improbable “Almost Everything,” in which a husband looks for the perfect gift for a demanding wife. It’s read by Liev Schreiber. In Jacob Guajardo’s “Conquistadors, on Fairchild,” read by Michael Hartney, old flames reconnect, but it’s not clear where they are headed.And in a classic from our archives,...


A Night at the Theater

Meg Wolitzer presents a show about the theater, and those who love it. Rachel Klein’s “Audience Instructions for Our Immersive/Experimental Theatre Production In An Abandoned Middle School In Bushwick,” read by Santino Fontana, sends up the avant-garde. In “Our Mutual (Theater) Friend,” by Amber Sparks, A retired diva just can’t fit into ordinary life—and then, she’s given an extraordinary gift. Krystina Alabado reads. Ann Petry’s “Solo on the Drums,” read by Peter Francis James, captures a...


In Dad We Trust--Maybe

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three stories about fathers and fatherhood. In “Beauty and the Beast” by Simon Rich, a self-absorbed producer gets a little Disney sparkle from his daughter. The reader is Arian Moayed. “Bedtime Story” by Victor LaValle, read by Dion Graham, features a son soothing an anxious father; and a father-daughter hiking trip involves both bonding and danger in Percival Everett’s “Exposure,” read by Denis O’Hare. The show includes comments by Dion Graham and Percival...


Best Laid Plans

Meg Wolitzer presents three stories in which plans go awry, or alter completely. In Ben Loory’s “Dandelions,” read by Wyatt Cenac, a suburb is invaded, and experiences a change of heart. Edwidge Danticat imagines an ultimate act and its consequences in “Cane and Roses,” read by Anika Noni Rose. And a romance with comic underpinnings changes course in Ray Bradbury’s “The Laurel and Hardy Love Affair,” read by Tate Donovan.


Distance Learning

Meg Wolitzer hands off to guest host Roxane Gay in this rebroadcast of a show about considering people and feelings at a distance. Italian fabulist Italo Calvino observes young love on the slopes in “The Adventure of a Skier,” performed by James Naughton. In Edwidge Danticat’s “New York Day Women” a daughter watches her mother walking through Manhattan. The reader is Laurine Towler. And the James Baldwin grapples with what it means to be an American in "Notes for a Hypothetical Novel,"...


Out of Their Element

Host Meg Wolitzer presents two works in which characters are out of their element. Literally, in the case of Robert Coover’s witty reworking of the fable “The Frog Prince,” who finds human life exhausting. Parker Posey reads the story. In Cristina Henriquez’s “Chasing Birds” a married couple share an exotic holiday locale, but not much else. It’s voiced by Maryann Plunkett, who also comments on the story at the end of her read. The story is introduced by writer and bird aficionado Amy Tan.


The Me I Used to Be

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three works about change. Yalcin Tosun’s “Muzaffer and Bananas” explores the awkward rites of passage of two teenaged boys. It’s performed by Arian Moayed. In Anya DeNiro’s “Take Pills and Wait for Hips,” performed by Pooya Mohseni, a trans woman reflects on her life before and after the change. And a former couple rehearse the disintegration of their relationship—on a street corner—in A.M. Homes’ “Goodbye to the Road Not Taken’ performed by Jane Kaczmarek and Tony...


Beyond Leprechauns

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three works in which characters have unusual friends who change their lives—whether they like it or not. In “Unicorn Me” by Elizabeth Crane, a magical box delivers a unicorn who offers ambiguous advice. Miriam Shor performs the story followed by a musical piece "Breathe," inspired by the story which was composed by Zina Goldrich and Marcy Heisler. Singer Maddie Corman, bassist Matt Scharfglass, and Zina Goldrich perform. A sentient cockroach intrigues and alarms a...


Complicated Women

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three works that explore the many-layered lives of women. Edwidge Danticat’s essay “Women Like Us” honors the long line of strong women in her family, but also recognizes her need to distance herself in order to become a writer. The reader is the late Lynne Thigpen. In an excerpt from Nora Ephron’s Heartburn, performed by Joan Allen, a philandering husband gets just what he deserves. And an order of nuns has hidden strengths—and comic timing—in Claire Luchette’s...


Miracle Grow

Host Meg Wolitzer presents two works about growth helped along by some sort of fantastical assistance. The characters in these pieces are stuck; consciously or not, they're looking for something to give them just a little push. And that nudge comes in the form of magic. In “Isabella’s Garden” by Naomi Kritzer, a backyard nature site presents a young family with a new world of fertility. The reader is Jane Kaczmarek. In “My Dear You” by Rachel Khong, performed by Annie Q., the afterlife...