Your favorite actors bringing great stories to life.
Guest host David Sedaris presents two stories about quiet times. Leonard Nimoy reads Raymond Carver's classic "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love," which is what perplexes the married couples sitting around drinking gin on a slow summer evening. It's also summer in Bernard Malamud's "A Summer's Reading," and a rootless young man is trying to find a path in life. David Rakoff was the reader.
Guest host Kate Burton presents three stories in translation selected with the international literary organization Words Without Borders. A wealthy woman winds up on the other side of the poverty line in Évelyne Trouillot’s “Detour,” performed by Rita Wolf and Arian Moayed, and introduced by Siri Hustvedt. A civil servant becomes a soccer star in Reka Man-Varhegyi’s "Woman Striker Has Killer Left Foot,” performed by Adina Verson. And two teenage misfits visit a chimp in “Muzaffer and Bananas” by Yalçın Tosun, performed by Arian Moayed, and introduced by Karan Mahajan.
A thrilling and laugh-out-loud funny account of how a cheating couple broadcast their affair to an entire listserv. This story was read by two very funny actors during Selected Shorts’ annual visit to the Getty Center in Los Angeles. D’Arcy Carden is a performer whose credits include Barry, Broad City, and the beloved Janet on The Good Place; Baron Vaughn can be seen on Grace and Frankie and heard on the reboot of Mystery Science Theater 3000, as well as Corporate on Comedy Central. Robin Hemley is an accomplished fiction and nonfiction writer who has won both a Pushcart Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has written more than a dozen books including Do-Over!, and The Big Ear, as well as a forthcoming book (nonfiction) in March titled Borderline Citizen: Dispatches from the Outskirts of Nationhood. Our story, "Reply All" appears in his collection titled 21012 Reply All.
Guest host Josh Radnor presents three stories drawn from the world of fables and fairy tales, but with a modern twist. Maulik Pancholy reads Somerset Maugham’s “Appointment in Samarra”; when your time is up, it’s up. Ben Loory gives us a kinder, gentler take on the old “monster in the closet” idea in “The Monster,” read by John Cameron Mitchell. Kelly Link’s “The Faery Handbag” is part folk tale, part love story, part coming-of-age story. It’s read by Kirsten Vangsness.
Guest host LeVar Burton presents a program celebrating the author he calls “potent and polemical.” Christopher Jackson reads an excerpt from Baldwin’s famous letter The Fire Next Time: in “My Dungeon Shook,” he addresses internalized racism. Next, Anthony Rapp performs an excerpt from Giovanni's Room, in which an ex-pat comes to terms with his sexuality and loneliness in Paris. And Baldwin contemplates The Great Migration in his novel Go Tell It On The Mountain. We hear an excerpt performed by Charlayne Woodard.
Guest host Sonia Manzano presents two stories about identity, appearance, and longing. In Elizabeth Crane’s “Blue Girl,” a young woman learns how to embrace difference. The reader is Valorie Curry. “Different” is certainly how you’d describe the folktale character Rumplestiltskin, but in Michael Cunningham’s remix, that doesn’t keep him from wanting a normal life. Zach Grenier reads “Little Man.”
Guest host Kate Burton presents some unusual chillers for Halloween. Edgar Allan Poe is haunted by a childhood memory in Russell Banks’ “The Caul,” performed by Richard Masur. Poe’s eerie “The Raven” is performed by Rene Auberjonois, Fionnula Flanagan, Isaiah Sheffer, and Harris Yulin. A dying emperor tries to communicate in “An Imperial Message,” by Franz Kafka, performed by Kaneza Schaal. And Agatha Christie tells a ghost story in “The Lamp,” performed by Rita Wolf.
The title of today’s story is a mouthful - “To Feel Again the Kind of Love That Hurts Something Terrible” - but trust us, you'll devour every word. It's by the writer Patrick Dacey, author of the novel, The Outer Cape, and a story collection, We’ve Already Gone This Far, and he’s a favorite of George Saunders, which is how he came to our attention. When we sent this story to one of our favorite readers, John Cameron Mitchell, he got back to us with the note "Wow, you really know how to pick them." Most people know John as the creator and star of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the recent musical podcast, Anthem: Homunculus. He’s also wowed his fair share of Selected Shorts audiences. He certainly did just that to the audience at San Francisco's Sketchfest when he performed this earlier in 2019.
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.
Guest host Josh Radnor presents two stories about expectation, hope and disenchantment. A navy wife isn't charmed by the Riviera, until a chance encounter changes everything, in Richard Yates' “Evening on the Côte d’Azur," read by Edie Falco. And a video parlor run by a lonely widower is the source of solace and catastrophe in an early George Saunders story. Josh Radnor reads “Offloading for Mrs. Schwartz.”