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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.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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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.

Embracing Disaster: Joyce Carol Oates and Etgar Keret

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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’ “Assassin” combines tongue-in-cheek horror and political satire.  Becky Ann Baker is the reader.

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Oct 14 2021

58mins

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Approaching Peace

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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. 

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Oct 07 2021

57mins

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Motherhood with Celeste Ng and Mary Karr

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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 child. 

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Sep 30 2021

59mins

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Outcasts in Love with Maulik Pancholy

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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.

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Sep 23 2021

59mins

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Too Hot For Radio: ZZ Packer "Gideon"

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"Gideon" is read by the great American actress Danielle Brooks, known for her performance as Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson on Orange Is the New Black, among many other roles.

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Sep 20 2021

20mins

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An Evening with LeVar Burton

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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.  

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Sep 16 2021

59mins

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What’s Left Behind

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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 Hempel’s “The Dog of the Marriage,” performed by Joan Allen.

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Sep 09 2021

59mins

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Riverhead at 25

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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.   

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Sep 02 2021

58mins

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Personal Politics

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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 “Shouting Wenkie,” performed by Liev Schreiber.

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Aug 26 2021

58mins

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Out of Control

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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.

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Aug 19 2021

58mins

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

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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.

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Aug 09 2021

31mins

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

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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.

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Jun 09 2021

44mins

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Only Human: Anton Chekhov

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Guest host Jane Curtin presents works by Anton Chekhov that were part of a celebration sponsored by Columbia University and hosted by Chekhov scholar Laura Strausfeld.  We’ll hear “A Drama,” performed by Cynthia Nixon—an ambitious writer overwhelms her idol; “Rapture,” performed by Robin Miles, Sam Underwood, Rainn Wilson, and Di Zhu—a young man enjoys his 15 minutes of fame; “Which is Better?,” performed by Rainn Wilson—Chekhov debates the merits of schools vs. pubs; and “Verotchka,” performed by Rainn Wilson—a studious young man confronts romance. 

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Nov 05 2020

58mins

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iTunes Ratings

1890 Ratings
Average Ratings
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126
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Fantastic Podcast

By Mommabird25 - Mar 15 2020
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I believe I’m a better person for taking the time to listen to these stories. The ones chosen are wise, entertaining, soulful and well crafted. I’m wanting to write like that, but it sure isn’t easy! The narrators are varied and well rehearsed. Each reader is very different from the others. Yeah we shouldn’t bash the president. He is able to damage the decency of our constitution and demonstrate incompetence, entitlement and small-mindedness without needing any help from the great artists putting on this production. And to those who need to bring up anything negative and sully the greatness of this endeavor, I say ba-fong-guu.

Fun fun fun

By mtwtf - Apr 30 2018
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No better way to enjoy the spoken word. Love the stories.