Spellbinding short stories by established and emerging writers take on a new life when they are performed by stars of the stage and screen.
Here's the Latest Episode from Selected Shorts:
Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents works celebrating dance. A domineering mother uses an evening at the ballet to find fault in "My Mother Explains the Ballet to Me,” by Jesse Eisenberg, performed by Patricia Kalember. A pioneering African-American dancer remembers an audition in “Léonide Massine,” by Janet Collins, performed by Carmen de Lavallade. A magical garment transforms its owner in “The Cape,” by Ben Loory, performed by Tony Yazbeck. And the “Tango” undermines a stuffy WASP community in this funny story by Kurt Vonnegut, performed by Tony Shalhoub.
Guest host Kirsten Vangsness presents four works about fame, celebrity, show biz, and what it takes to survive them. First, actor Cole Escola channels the legendary Joan Crawford in an excerpt from her autobiography, My Way of Life. Author Zadie Smith channels the dauntless spirit of Billie Holiday in “Crazy They Call Me,” performed by Karen Pittman. Will Eno’s “Interview" is a freewheeling monologue which offers both sides of an extensive and confessional outpouring performed by the author. And Bebe Neuwirth dances her way into our hearts playing a carefree child trapped in pretentious dance class in “I Am Narcissus,” by Elizabeth Olmstead.
Guest host Sonia Manzano presents three works about entering uncharted territories. An early John Updike fable, “The Different One,” imagines a bold bunny. It’s read by Michael Emerson. A gentrified town morphs into a dreamscape in Steven Millhauser’s “Coming Soon,” ready by David Morse. And Kirstin Valdez Quade’s essay “Youth From Every Quarter” looks at the harsher side of assimilation. It’s read by Manzano.
Guest host Kirsten Vangsness presents two contemporary fables. First, Michael Cunningham reimagines the Hans Christian Andersen classic “A Wild Swan,” in a reading by Valorie Curry. Next, an excerpt from George Saunders’ touching and hilarious novella, Fox 8, read by John Cameron Mitchell.
Guest host Jane Curtin offers up tales of courtship and its consequences. In “Prince Amilec,” by Tanith Lee, a handsome prince pursues a beautiful princess, but it’s not the same old, same old fairy tale. Gildart Jackson performs. A couple explores their relationship in a humorous piece by A.M. Homes. “Be Mine is performed by Sanjit De Silva and Adina Verson. And in “The Idea of Marcel,” by Marie-Helene Bertino, a breakup leads ex lovers to reboot each other. It’s performed by Jenna Ushkowitz.
Guest host Michael Cerveris presents two stories about untrue love. A devoted wife worships her sailor husband in Daphne du Maurier's "La Sainte-Vierge," read by Kathryn Erbe. And Paul Giamatti reads a sci-fi classic by Robert Sheckley, "Pilgrimage to Earth," in which a traveller from a distant planet comes to Earth to find love. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Guest host John Darnielle presents favorite works that reflect on life and death and what comes after. He reads Robert Browning’s chilling poem “My Last Duchess,” and also offers up a new song, “Skeleton’s Tooth.” Molly Ringwald performs “No More Loves,” by Javier Marias, in which a ghost learns to read by proxy. Kirsten Vangsness reads Neil Gaiman’s “When We Went to See the End of the World by Dawnie Morningside, Age 11 ¼; the child narrator doesn’t like what she finds in this magical place. The heroine of Robert Aickman’s “Le Miroir,” does like what she sees in an antique looking glass—but there’s a price to pay. The reader is Kathryn Erbe. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Guest host Maulik Pancholy presents works that reflect on the diversity and excellence of Riverhead Books, celebrating a quarter century. 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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Guest host Michael Cerveris presents four stories inspired by other books and authors. Immigrants collide at Wal-Mart in Juan Martinez's “Best Worst American,” read by Cristin Milioti. An old friendship is strained in Namwali Serpell 's "Double Men," read by Nikki M. James. Seth Fried re-imagines Kafka's "Metamorphosis"; the reader is Jennifer Mudge. And Dino Buzzati visits "Kafka's Houses" on trip to Prague. The reader is Tony Roberts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices