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.

All Episodes

Building Worlds With N.K. Jemisin

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three works of speculative fiction curated by best-selling author N.K. Jemisin. In John Scalzi’s “When the Yogurt Took Over” a popular breakfast staple decides it’s good for everyone. The reader is Jin Ha. Chatbots and A.I. can be helpful––but sometimes too helpful––as we hear in Alexandra Chang’s “Me and My Algo,” read by Catherine Cohen. And Jemisin herself reworks a classic by Ursula K. Le Guin in “The Ones Who Stay and Fight,” read by Teagle F. Bougere. Excerpts from Jemisin’s onstage remarks are included in this show.

Too Hot For Radio: Dierdre Coyle “Stakes”

Emma Roberts reads a story about a twenty-something’s loneliness and longing at an Arizona Renaissance fair.

Count Your Blessings

Host Meg Wolitzer presents two imaginative stories about different ways of thinking about coming together and what we celebrate when we do. In “On the Sudden Increase in Changeling Stock: A Report,” Daniel Lavery applies a statistical model where you would not expect to find one, with zany results. It’s read by Jin Ha. In our second work, master storyteller Ray Bradbury wildly reimagines the idea of “Homecoming,” in a story that first captivated reader Neil Gaiman when he was seven years old.

Romance of the Summer

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three lively stories about the allure—or not—of summer. Italian writer Massimo Bontempeli creates a magical beach inside an apartment in “The Miraculous Beach, or Prize for Modesty.” The work was translated by Jenny McPhee and is read by Hugh Dancy. Humorist Samantha Irby doesn’t get summer, and presents a contrarian’s view in “The Case for Remaining Indoors,” read by Retta. And Denis O’Hare reads a baseball classic—W.P. Kinsella’s “The Thrill of the Grass.”

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 features on-stage remarks by O’Hare about fatherhood and includes comments by Percival Everett and Dion Graham.

Picture Perfect

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three works about idealized lives, and ideas about what constitutes an “ideal” life. “Boy Meets Girl” is Jen Kim’s humorous version of a Hollywood love story. It’s read by Tony Hale. In the John Cheever classic “The Worm in the Apple” a couple have the perfect life—but no one can believe it. It’s read by Anne Meara. And a harried mother fantasizes about a brand new life in Vanessa Cuti’s “Our Children,” performed by Claire Danes, followed by an interview with Danes.

Taking Flight with Amy Tan

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three works featuring birds, curated by writer and bird aficionado Amy Tan. Ben Loory’s “The Frog and the Bird,” is a twist the traditional fable genre; it’s performed by Mike Doyle. Teenagers are transformed in “Town of Birds,” by Heather Monley, performed by Yetide Badaki; and an avian love song goes viral in Mikkel Rosengaard’s “The Mating Call,” performed by BD Wong. Tan comments on the program’s theme and the stories and the actors provide backstage commentary.

Lost and Found

Host Meg Wolitzer presents two works about losing something, but finding something revealing to take its place. In “Light,” by Lesley Nkeka Arimah, parents differ about how to raise a strong-willed daughter. The reader is Crystal Dickinson. And in Taryn Bowe’s “Camp Emeline,” performed by Edie Falco, a family struggles after a loss, but grief leads to self-discovery for the determined narrator. This lovely work also introduces Selected Shorts’ first-ever on-air book club. Wolitzer joins a lively mother/daughter group to talk about Bowe’s work and how they related to it.

Roz Chast: While you were Sleeping

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three works from an evening with author and New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, inspired by Chast’s new book I Must be Dreaming. “The Wife on Ambien,” by Ed Park, is a sort of late-night fever dream. It’s read by John Fugelsang. In Tessa Hadley’s “Bad Dreams,” images that begin in books envelop a family in real life. The reader is Rita Wolf. Tom Barbash’s “Stay Up With Me” charts the rocky path of an old love affair. It’s read by Jason Ralph. And throughout the episode, Chast describes her cartoons based on her own weird and hilarious dreams.

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