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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. Produced and distributed by Symphony Space.

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. Produced and distributed by 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. Produced and distributed by Symphony Space.




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


It Takes Two

Guest host Meg Wolitzer presents three stories about profound and unexpected connections between people—territory she herself covers a lot as a writer. Old enemies meet in Lauren Groff’s “Once,” performed by Cynthia Nixon. Old friends come together and wonder what might have been in Rachel Khong’s “Slow and Steady,” performed by Hettienne Park. And an artistic collaboration takes a bizarre turn in Elizabeth Crane’s “Something Shiny,” performed by Kate Walsh. Join and give!:...


Facts and Legends

Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents three stories where facts, beliefs, and fabrications coincide. Essayist Samantha Irby debunks nature, fresh air, and sunshine in “The Case for Remaining Indoors,” performed by Retta. Rebecca Makkai shares tattered facts about a terrorist in “Everything We Know About the Bomber,” performed by John Cameron Mitchell. And Michael McKean brings a difficult father to life in Walter Kirn’s “The Hoaxer.” Join and give!:...


True Confessions

Guest host Baron Vaughn presents three stories in which people “’fess up.” The title gives it away in “As a 28-Year-Old Latino, I’m Shocked My New Novel, Memoirs of a Middle-Aged White Lady, Has Been So Poorly Received” by Carlos Greaves. In the Heights’ Anthony Ramos performs. A family secret is revealed in “1,000-Year-Old Ghosts” by Laura Chow Reeve, performed by Jennifer Lim. And Winnie the Pooh author A. A. Milne reveals a caustic wit—and his knowledge of book collecting—in “The Rise and...


Dynamic Duos

Guest host Denis O’Hare presents a program that features great two-hander stories, each performed by a pair of actors that brings out the best in them. In “The Trip,” by Bruce Jay Friedman, a young man is mortified when his over-the-top mom decides to accompany him to his first day at college. Santino Fontana and Julie Halston have fun with this social nightmare. In Lorrie Moore’s “Foes,” a world-weary liberal writer making a reluctant appearance at a charity dinner is seated with a rabid...


New York Stories

Guest host Kate Burton presents five works that celebrate the energy and endurance of New York City. “The Lower East Side of Manhattan,” a poem by Victor Hernández Cruz, is performed by Sonia Manzano. Colum McCann’s “Dessert” is performed by F. Murray Abraham. Vinson Cunningham’s comic odyssey, “Home to Flatbush” is performed by Wyatt Cenac. Two women form a bond in “Recognition,” by Victor LaValle, performed by Karen Pittman. And an excerpt from Toni Morrison’s Jazz is performed by Anika...


Larger Than Life

Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents two stories about characters who are compelling personalities. First, the story that inspired the Hollywood classic All About Eve, Mary Orr’s “The Wisdom of Eve,” performed by Stana Katic. Next, in Louise Erdrich’s powerful mother-daughter story “The Leap” a former trapeze artist pushes herself to the limit. It’s read by Elizabeth Reaser. Join and give!: See for...


Word Power

Guest host Dylan Marron presents three works that demonstrate the power of words. In “The Dancing Mind,” the late Toni Morrison talks about why writers love their craft, and readers love their creations. Joe Morton is the reader. In Canadian poet and short-story writer Souvankham Thammavongsa’s story, “How to Pronounce Knife,” one word links two cultures. It’s performed by Deborah S. Craig. And Ian McEwan’s “My Purple-Scented Novel,” is a satirical tale about two authors and one masterpiece,...


Under the Surface

On this SELECTED SHORTS, hosted by Jane Kaczmarek, we explore hidden emotions. In Patrick Dacey’s “Patriots” suburban lawn ornaments threaten a friendship. The reader is Wendie Malick. In Seth Fried’s “Sea Monster,” a wife has a secret that may affect her marriage. The reader is Natasha Rothwell. Host Jane Kaczmarek reads our final story. In “Mistress” by Gina Berriault, a woman meets her former lover’s son. Join and give!:...


Too Hot For Radio: Jess Walter "Helpless Little Things"

From the best-selling author Beautiful Ruins, an edgy, suspenseful story about a drug-dealing Portland con artist voiced by actor Denis O'Hare who seems to have the perfect scam going... until it all goes wrong. Jess Walter talks to host Aparna Nancherla about where he gets his inspiration from, reading his reviews, and how he handles the dreaded writer's block. Join and give!: See for privacy...



Guest host Kate Burton presents four works with a hint of strangeness. Your laptop wants the best for you, with a little reciprocity, in “Cat Pictures Please,” by Naomi Kritzer, performed by Nia Vardalos. “There Will Come Soft Rains” is an eerie post-apocalypse classic by Ray Bradbury, performed by Kathleen Chalfant. A despondent housewife gets a lift from a seductive window treatment in Michel Faber’s “The Eyes of the Soul,” performed by Sam Underwood. Join and give!:...


Curious Courtships

Guest host Maulik Pancholy presents three stories about curious courtships. First, does the perfect date night include zombies? Tony Hale reads “First Person Shooter,” by Charles Yu. A president’s wife is the ideal luggage item, until she develops a mind of her own in a vintage tale by Whitfield Cook. “The Portable Mrs. Tillson,” is performed by Laura Grey and Jordan Klepper. The show concludes with another period gem--“Gertrude the Governess: or, Simple Seventeen,” by Stephen Leacock,...


Fame & Infamy

Guest host Dylan Marron presents three stories about the fickle nature of fame. A classic action hero may be past his time in “The South Asian Speakers Series Presents the Archeologist and Adventurer Indiana Jones,” by Tania James, performed by Bryan Cranston. Everyday racism transforms a young woman into a death-defying activist in “Today, You’re a Black Revolutionary,” by Jade Jones, performed by Moses Ingram. And pop stars, their fads, and their handlers are fair game in “On a Day Tammy...


Forgiving and Forgetting

Guest host Robert Sean Leonard presents stories about transgression, misunderstandings, and betrayal. “Initials Etched on a Dining Room Table Lockeport Nova Scotia” call up a host of memories in this story by Peter Orner, performed by Maulik Pancholy. A chef down on his luck gets a new start in “Ollie’s Back,” by Lynn Sloan, performed by Nate Corddry. And parents disagree about the raising of a lively daughter, in “Light,” by Lesley Nneka Arimah, performed by Crystal Dickinson. Join and...


Revise the Rules

Guest host Roxane Gay presents three stories in which personal codes and rules of behavior are tested. In “Miss Laura’s School for Esquire Men,” by Carmen Maria Machado, hopelessly macho men are learning to be kinder and gentler. The reader is Emily Skeggs. A schoolroom friendship comes at a high price in “Rubberdust” by Sarah Thankam Mathews, performed by Purva Bedi. The story was included in Best American Short Stories 2020 by guest editor Curtis Sittenfeld. A highly principled dogwalker...


Mending Families

Guest host Maulik Pancholy presents two stories about families. In Heather Monley’s “Paddle to Canada,” a risky family boating trip becomes contested history. Jenna Ushkowitz is the reader. And Jamel Brinkley’s “A Family” shows people coming together in unexpected ways after a loss. Brandon J. Dirden performs this Best American Short Stories 2019 selection. Join and give!: See for privacy...


Reading the Russians with George Saunders

Guest host Kate Burton presents three Russian classics that reflect on the humor, humanism, and poetry of this great literary tradition, from an evening curated by Saunders. In addition to his award-winning short-story anthologies and novel, Saunders teaches at Syracuse University. In “After the Theatre,” by Anton Chekhov, a young girl writes imaginary love letters. The reader is Donna Lynne Champlin. “The Porcelain Doll” by Leo Tolstoy is based on a letter he wrote to his young...


Too Hot For Radio: Tiphanie Yanique "The Special World"

A gorgeous story read by actor Hampton Fluker (The Blind Side, Patriots Day, and Shades of Blue) about race, leaving home, and the dramas of young life. After the reading, host Aparna Nancherla talks with the delightful author Tiphanie Yanique about, well, just about everything. Join and give!: See for privacy information.


Make ‘Em Laugh: A Celebration of James Thurber

Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents a program celebrating the great American humorist in some of the many genres in which he was drop-dead funny. Thurber confesses that he’s all thumbs in “I Break Everything I Touch,” performed by Keith Olbermann. Who knew that The Bard wrote whodunnits? Find out who in “The Macbeth Murder Mystery,” performed by Michael McKean and Susannah Rogers. Kristine Nielsen, Susannah Rogers, and Keith Olbermann perform a selection of Thurber’s fables, and McKean reads...


Test the Waters

Guest host Hope Davis presents two coming-of-age stories that mingle memory, rebirth, and water. Davis herself reads Elizabeth McCracken’s “It’s Not You,” in which a young woman checks into a grand hotel to cure a broken heart. And from Isaac Babel, the Russian-Jewish author who wrote beguiling tales about the seamy side of early 20th century Odessa, comes "In the Basement.” It has a familiar premise—the unlikely friendship between a poor boy and a rich one. But Babel’s lush descriptions and...



Guest host John Darnielle presents favorite works that reflect on life, death and what comes next. He reads Robert Browning’s chilling poem “My Last Duchess;” Molly Ringwald performs “No More Loves,” by Javier Marias, in which a ghost learns to read. Kirsten Vangsness performs Neil Gaiman’s “When We Went to See the End of the World by Dawnie Morningside, Age 11 ¼. The heroine of Robert Aickman’s “Le Miroir,” is mesmerized by an antique looking glass. The reader is Kathryn Erbe. Join and...