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


On this show, host Meg Wolitzer gets friendly, and shares three stories about friendships of all kinds. Kelly Stout’s zinger “Let’s Get Drinks,” offers up the perils of conducting a social life via hyperbolic texts, which are hilariously performed by Jane Curtin and Jane Kaczmarek. Next, “True Friendship,” by Jorge Hernandez describes a life-long friend who’s almost too good to be—true. The reader is Michael Urie. And three misfits fit together in Anthony Marra’s “The Last Words of Benito Picone,” performed by John Turturro. A brief interview with Turturro follows the story.

Approaching Peace

On this show, Meg Wolitzer hands things off to guest host Hope Davis, who 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.

Slippery Roads and Fancy Shorts

Host Meg Wolitzer presents two stories in which some things are saved and some are left behind. Both stories also have a connection to the German language. In Haruki Murakami’s “Lederhosen,” performed by Aasif Mandvi, the traditional German shorts become a singular obsession for one half of a married couple. In Elizabeth McCracken’s “Robinson Crusoe at the Waterpark,” a couple and their son find themselves in over their heads. Mike Doyle is the reader.

Too Hot For Radio: Roxane Gay “Men On Bikes”

Read by Jane Kaczmarek, author Roxane Gay’s playful story somehow confronts alcoholism, matrimony, masculinity, the nuclear family and the failure of the American Dream, while making us laugh. And host Aparna Nancherla talks to her friend, comedian Alison Leiby her solo show, “Oh God, a Show About Abortion,” and how to craft comedy from uncomfortable situations.

The Road Not Taken

On this Selected Shorts program, host Meg Wolitzer presents stories about journeys—physical and emotional—that end in unexpected places. In “A Woman Driving Alone,” by Marie-Helene Bertino, the main character travels s long way to see a friend, but seems also to be escaping a challenging moment in her life. The piece was commissioned for Selected Shorts’ anthology Small Odysseys, and is read by Amber Tamblyn. In Tom Perrotta’s “Nine Inches”, a teacher drives only across town, to chaperone a middle school dance, but almost gets into trouble himself. The story is performed by Santino Fontana.

Work of Art

Host Meg Wolitzer presents stories of inspirations small and large. In these tales, writers investigate moments in which art inspires life, or life inspires art, especially in a visual medium. In Elizabeth Crane’s “Blue Girl,” read by Valorie Curry, a young woman’s secret life is given an unusual public forum. In Jai Chakrabarti’s “Lessons with Father,” commissioned for our Small Odysseys anthology, a middle-aged child tries to connect with her late father through brushstrokes. The reader is Purva Bedi. And in William Boyd’s “Varengeville” read by Dan Stevens, a young man strays from his famous family as he discovers himself on canvas.

School Misrule

On this week’s SELECTED SHORTS, we’re going to hear stories about students and schools that abandon the usual rules to follow their own, unusual, codes of behavior. In “Singin’ in the Acid Rain,” by Patricia Marx, performed by Katrina Lenk, it’s recess at a post-apocalyptic school. Marx talks with Meg Wolitzer about the story and her unique brand of humor after the read, and check your feed for our bonus segment featuring the full interview. The class in “The School,” by Donald Barthelme, performed by Laura Esterman, is facing a difficult test; and young love is framed by larger issues in “Melvin in the Sixth Grade,” by Dana Johnson, performed by Nikki M. James. We hear from James about this nuanced rite-of-passage story.

Bonus: Meg Wolitzer Talks to Patricia Marx

In this bonus conversation, host Meg Wolitzer talks to friend and New Yorker humorist Patricia Marx about her story “Singin’ in the Acid Rain,” and writing funny.

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 Hilma Wolitzer (Meg’s mom), read by Becky Ann Baker, a happy couple gets a jolt when the man’s ex moves into their apartment. After the story, Meg interviews Hilma about what gave her the idea and her writing in general.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter