Selected Shorts from PRI

Selected Shorts from PRI

United States

Podcast by Selected Shorts from PRI


A Child’s-Eye View: Stories by John Irving  

Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents excerpts from works by novelist John Irving.  Orphans are cared for by a tough guy and a tough dog in "The Broken Side-view Mirror," read by Yul Vazquez.  A teenager is smitten by a librarian in an excerpt from In One Person, read by Michael C. Hall.  And a philandering children's book author entertains "Unhappy Mothers," in a reading by Heather Burns.

Episode 9 Elliott Holt "Fem Care"  

Annie is a market researcher for the feminine hygiene division of a health & beauty company. While the cool people work on marketing skin creams and cosmetics, she finds out how women feel about menstruation. It's a story complete with humor and humanity, differences and common bonds, and a recognition that sometimes it’s who you run into in the ladies’ room that matters. After the story, Aparna Nancherla talks to fellow writer and comedian Emily Heller about the differences between men and women and how they could both relate to Annie.

Tiny, But Mighty: Stories by Lydia Davis  

Guest host Jane Curtin presents four stories by Lydia Davis, a master of short-form fiction in which real-life situations are subtly altered to produce the funny and strange.  We hear “Can’t and Won’t,” “If at the Wedding (at the Zoo),” “The Party,” and “The Two Davises and the Rug,” read by Davis, Kaneza Schaal, Cristin Milioti, and Dylan Baker.  The final story, “The Egg Race,” is by John Updike.  In it, a high school reunion triggers memories and regrets.  It’s read by Alec Baldwin.

Fateful Encounters  

Guest host Robert Sean Leonard presents three stories about fateful encounters.  Henry Slesar's "The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross" was a classic “Twilight Zone” episode about over-ambition, read by Leonard.  Leonard also reads Eric Schlich's "Head Over Knees," in which a teen's envy turns to empathy.  And Helen Oyeyemi dresses an old fairy tale in new clothes in “Dornicka and the St. Martin's Day Goose," read by Colby Minifie.

Episode 8 Laura Lippman "The Crack Cocaine Diet"  

From the New York Times bestselling mystery author of acclaimed stand-alones  and the award-winning Tess Monaghan series comes a darkly humorous story filled with delightfully unanticipated twists. The reader, This American Life regular Elna Baker, coincidentally brought a very personal angle to the story which she explains in an interview to host Aparna Nancherla. 


Guest host Kate Burton presents two stories about destiny.  A flaky wanna-be actor gets in over his head in Steve Almond's "God Bless America," read by Michael Urie.  And Heather O'Neill re-imagines a horror classic in a lighter vein in "The Isles of Dr. Moreau," read by Valorie Curry.

Politics is Local  

Guest host Kate Burton presents three stories about politics and voting, at home and abroad.  In Chinau Achebe's "The Voter," a wily Nigerian campaign worker has a dilemma.  Arthur French reads.  Humorist Simon Rich turns a world-famous protest into a doomed courtship, in "Occupy Jen's Street," read by Wyatt Cenac.  And a feisty voter gets the last word in“Taking Ms. Kezee to the Polls,” by David Haynes, read by Michael Genét.

Episode 7 Hilary Mantel "The Long QT"  

A story from the author of the best-sellers Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies and her most recent, the controversial and often wicked short story collection The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, in which we found the story you are about to hear. “The Long QT” features a standard, modern-day dilemma that delivers an entirely unexpected sort of fright at the end. Host Aparna Nancherla chats with champion open water swimmer, Lynne Cox, a real life survivor of the disorder Mantel's story is based upon. 

Entering the Twilight Zone  

Guest host Robert Sean Leonard presents a tribute to the classic TV series, “The Twilight Zone,” including two stories that were featured on the show: Price Day’s “Four O’Clock,” read by Zachary Quinto, in which a man with awesome powers knows just how to improve the world.  And “Perchance to Dream,” by Charles Beaumont, in which the lines between sleeping and waking blur.  It’s read by Zach Grenier.  Roald Dahl’s “The Landlady,” is the perfect hostess, thinks the young man who comes to her door.  It’s read by Sam Underwood.

You Might As Well Live: A Dorothy Parker Celebration  

Guest host Jane Curtin presents sassy stories about sassy women from the legendary Dorothy Parker, including “The Sexes,” read by Parker Posey and “The Standard of Living” (two secretaries on a fantasy shopping spree), read by Hope Davis.  A cranky coffee shop employee with amazing luck keeps them company in Robert Coover’s “Waitress,” read by Sonia Manzano.   

Episode 6 William Giraldi "Wonder Woman Was My Lover"  

"My one and only female was an acrobat on the mattress, and the truth is, I miss her still." So begins our featured story.  Read by RISK! podcast host, Kevin Allison, this story takes us on a wild romp when Wonder Woman lands in the yard of a gay man. It's a story full of humor, sex, and sweetness,.  Writer William Giraldi is author of the novels Busy Monsters and Hold the Dark, and the memoir The Hero's Body.

Parents and Children  

Guest host Kate Burton presents two stories about parents and children.  A mother and daughter remember the past differently in Tessa Hadley's "Matrilineal," performed by Patricia Kalember.  And a surprising offer divides two families in "In the Country," by Guy de Maupassant, performed by Thomas Gibson.  

Between Meals  

Guest host Robert Sean Leonard presents three stories about food, family, and friendship.  Secrets are revealed at a Christmas party in Ann Beattie’s “Where You’ll Find Me,” read by Jane Kaczmarek; the narrator of Haruki Murakami’s “The Year of Spaghetti” is using pasta to keep the world away.  Michael Imperioli reads.  In Marina Keegan’s “Reading Aloud” an elderly volunteer forms a bond with her blind client; Rita Wolf is the reader.

Episode 5 Nathan Englander “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank”  

The critically acclaimed writer's story was recently selected as one of the Best American Stories of the past hundred years.  And just like all the stories here on Selected Short: Too Hot For Radio there are some adult moments - this story has grown people smoking dope, taking shots of vodka and keeping it real.  Actor Dylan Baker gives a tour de force reading that will keep you laughing and on the edge of your seat.  Also in this episode, Nathan chats by phone to host Aparna Nancherla from his temporary home in Malawi.

Dogs & Cats  

Guest host Kate Burton presents four works about cats and dogs.  "Dog" is at the center of a family power play in Richard Russo's tale, read by Stephen Lang.  Saki's classic presents "Tobermory" the talking cat, voiced by Rene Auberjonois.  How to live like a cat, in Helen Ellis's "Take it From Cats," read by Maria Dizzia, and a reversal of fortune in "Roslyn's Dog," by Arthur Bradford, read by John Benjamin Hickey.

Reader, I Married Him  

Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents a celebration of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, with a reading from the classic (by Joanna Gleason) and contemporary stories it inspired: Salley Vickers' "Reader, She Married Me," read by Chris Sarandon, and Audrey Niffenegger's "The Orphan Exchange," read by Tovah Feldshuh.

Episode 4 Chuck Palahniuk "Zombies"  

From the dark mind of cult author Chuck Palahniuk (writer of such classic novels like Fight Club and Choke), "Zombies" is a tale of what happens when teens at a high school figure out a way to disengage with the pressure of life.  It's a story anyone in modern life can relate to, and the powerful ending packs a wallop.  Host Aparna Nancherla talks to Chuck about what inspired the story as well as books he loves.

Lost and Found  

An abduction, a rejection, and a reconciliation in three stories presented by David Sedaris.   A flirtatious girl is in peril in Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where are You Going, Where Have You Been?”, read by Christine Baranski.  A tender-hearted librarian parts company with her feral cats in Belle Boggs’ “Havahart,” read by Merritt Wever.  In George Saunders’ “Sticks,” read by Anthony Rapp, a dysfunctional father reaches out to his family in a strange way.

Animal Magnetism  

Guest host Robert Sean Leonard presents three stories with animal connections.  Old lovers take stock in Grace Paley’s “The Pale Pink Roast,” read by Linda Lavin.  A boy loves his piggy bank, in Etgar Keret’s “Breaking the Pig,” read by Campbell Scott.  And it’s man against dog in "Jerry and Molly and Sam," by Raymond Carver, read by Ana Gasteyer. 

Episode 3 Simon Rich  “Guy Walks Into A Bar”  

Author, former SNL writer, and creator of the FXX show Man Seeking Woman Simon Rich wrote a humor piece in The New Yorker that’s a dark yet sweetly hilarious take on the classic joke and just like that, it was all over social media. Just in case you need some extra encouragement, Conan O’Brien tweeted it and called it “the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time.” Host Aparna Nancherla calls Simon Rich to discuss his story.

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