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

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 Everett.

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,” performed by Brandon J. Dirden.

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

SELECTED SHORTS 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 Shaloub.

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 woman in “The Double Life of the Cockroach’s Wife” by Helen Phillips. It’s performed by Sarah Steele. And the latest iPhone knows everything about you in Weike Wang’s “iPhoneSE,” performed by Dawn Akemi Saito. All three stories were commissions for Selected Shorts’ anthology Small Odysseys.

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 provides a perfect platform for questions about love, commitment, and the meaning of forever. After the reading, Wolitzer talks to Khong about the story and her writing process.


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.

Great Escapes

Host Meg Wolitzer presents three works that contemplate a way out—of our lives, and even of this world. In Joe Meno’s “Books You Read,” performed by Joan Allen, a young boy helps his jaded teacher to love reading again. J. Robert Lennon takes us into deep space and a conversation between a computer and a survivor in “Escape Pod W41,” performed by Stephen Lang. And marriage, and a friendship, are tested in Jac Jemc’s “Infidelity,” performed by Kathleen Chalfant. All three stories were commissioned for SELECTED SHORTS’ anthology Small Odysseys.

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