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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


Survival Skills

Guest host Roxane Gay presents two stories about making things work out, though sometimes at a cost. In “Loose Change,” by Andrea Levy, performed by Eve Best, a well-off Londoner has a strange encounter in an art gallery, one that recalls a pivotal moment in her family’s past. In Manuel Muñoz’s "Anyone Can Do It,” a poor woman takes a risk in order to provide for her family. The reader is Monica Raymund. Join and give!:


Embracing Disaster: Joyce Carol Oates and Etgar Keret

Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents stories by two masters of the short-story form. Humor, humanity, and fantasy all combine in four tales of things gone wrong. In “Fly Already” by Etgar Keret, performed by Liev Schreiber, a widower and his small son watch a drama unfold. In “Where Are You?” by Joyce Carol Oates, performed by Dianna Agron, a demanding husband pushes his wife to the limit. In “One Gram Short” by Etgar Keret, performed by Ira Glass, a stoner makes a really bad deal; and Oates’...


Approaching Peace

On this show, guest host Hope Davis presents three stories about finding some kind of peace and stability in a variety of challenging circumstances. In Rabih Alameddine’s “Break” a trans woman reconnects with a sibling. The reader is Pooya Mohseni. Dave Eggers imagines a world changed by determined parents in “Your Mother And I,” performed by the late David Rakoff. And love triumphs over illness in Amy Bloom’s “Silver Water,” performed by Linda Lavin. Join and give!:...


Motherhood with Celeste Ng and Mary Karr

On this show, guest host Kate Burton introduces two stories that look at the joys and complexity of motherhood. They were chosen by the novelist Celeste Ng and memoirist and essayist Mary Karr, each of whom comments briefly on her pick. In “Looking for a Thief,” by Danielle Lazarin, a suburban mother questions her choices. The story is performed by Heather Burns. And Burton reads Tillie Olsen’s “I Stand Here Ironing,” in which another mother wonders if she’s done right by a challenging first...


Outcasts in Love with Maulik Pancholy

Two stories in which social outliers strive for love. “Tandolfo the Great,” by Richard Bausch, is read by Michael Ian Black. And Lance Reddick reads “A Tree, A Rock, a Cloud” by American master Carson McCullers. Join and give!: See for privacy information.


An Evening with LeVar Burton

Guest host LeVar Burton presents two of his favorite stories. In Lucia Berlin’s “Friends,” the characters have different ideas about who benefits from their weekly lunches. The reader is Lydia Gaston. Next, Burton himself reads Jocelyn Nicole Johnson’s powerful “Control Negro,” in which an academic and father tries a real-world experiment to prove a theory about racism. Join and give!: See for...


What’s Left Behind

Guest host Meg Wolitzer presents three diverse stories that look at what gets left behind when life changes, gradually or suddenly. Restless retirees try on the ultimate next step in Greg Ames’ funny “Funeral Platter,” performed by Michael McKean and Annette O’Toole. The family in Julia Alvarez’s “Liberty” are on their way to a new life in America, but it’s difficult leaving the old one behind. The reader is Laura Gomez. And a trainer of guide dogs for the blind learns how to let go, in Amy...


Riverhead at 25

Guest host Maulik Pancholy presents works that reflect on the diversity and excellence of Riverhead Books, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2018. The program features “Flower Hunters,” by Lauren Groff, performed by Maria Dizzia, and “Buck Boy,” by James McBride, performed by Teagle Bougere, as well as special commissions from Aja Gabel (“Alarm”) and R.O. Kwon (“Tempo”) both performed by Hettienne Park. Join and give!:...


Personal Politics

Guest host Baron Vaughn presents three works where the personal and the political collide. In “Parent Night at Confidence Academy,” by Kiley Reid, a teacher lets parents know what she really sees in their kids. The reader is Juliana Canfield. Two kingdoms have created ideal societies, as long as you don’t mind a little restraint, in this playful fable by Berlin Alexanderplatz author Alfred Doblin, read by Kate Burton. And local politics gets ugly (even the dog is involved) in Peter Orner’s...


Out of Control

Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents three works about losing control. In Dmitry Biriukov’s “Hello?” a crowded city bus inspires one passenger to create a romantic scenario. The reader is Mike Doyle. Jenny Allen offers up a disastrous crafts project in “How to Tie-Dye,” reader by Jane Curtin. And Anton Chekhov gives us a clueless young man beset by determined women in “From the Diary of a Hot-Tempered Man,” read by Sam Underwood. Join and give!:...


Punching In

Guest host Maulik Pancholy presents three stories about workers and the workplace—and "the daily grind." In a John Cheever classic, “Bayonne,” a busy waitress defends her territory. The reader is Mary Kay Place. The always succinct Lydia Davis gives us “Alvin the Typesetter,” in which a bohemian artist battles job conformity. The late David Rakoff performs. And in “OBF, Inc." by Bernice L. McFadden, an interviewee at a hip start-up learns about a secret organization that sells cultural...


Too Hot for Radio: Stephen Tobolowsky "Listen to the Dog"

Writer and character actor Stephen Tobolowsky reads his own story about a Thanksgiving dinner that takes a most unexpected turn. Later he talks to host Aparna Nancherla about his work in TV, movies, and his podcast, The Tobolowsky Files. Join and give!: See for privacy information.


Words Without Borders

Guest host Kate Burton presents three stories in translation selected with the international literary organization Words Without Borders. A wealthy woman winds up on the other side of the poverty line in Évelyne Trouillot’s “Detour,” performed by Rita Wolf and Arian Moayed. A civil servant becomes a soccer star in Réka Mán-Várhegyi’s "Woman Striker Has Killer Left Foot,” performed by Adina Verson. And two teenage misfits visit a chimp in “Muzaffer and Bananas” by Yalçın Tosun, performed by...


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,...