Word of Mouth Presents: Selected Shorts

Aug 1, 2017

This week we continue our summer audio tour of some of the best podcasts and programs we've heard. On Tuesday, we begin a trio of specials from Selected Shorts. If you're not familiar with the show, it's made from recordings of primo actors reading short stories and distributed by PRI, Public Radio International.

Tuesday

Selected Shorts Spring Trio 2017 - Coming and Going: Best American Short Stories

Each year Selected Shorts partners with the distinguished fiction anthology The Best American Short Stories, and asks its guest editor to select works for performance.  In 2016, the editor was Junot Diaz, and he says (in remarks we share on this program) that "he lost a lot of sleep" and read each story three times to be sure not to miss the quiet stories that eventually amaze.  We feature three of his picks on this show, presented by guest host Cynthia Nixon.   

An American student meets her Ethiopian relatives in Meron Hadero's "The Suitcase."  It’s read by Renee Elise Goldsberry.   Our second story, Daniel O'Malley's "The Bridge," takes us to the rural back country, where a home-schooled young boy sees something unbelievable and tries to make sense of it.   The reader is Joan Allen.

An endangered Puerto Rican parrot pleads for compassion in our final story, "The Great Silence," by Ted Chiang, read by Elizabeth Rodriguez.

Wednesday

Selected Shorts Spring Trio 2017: 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.   

Next, the English satirist Saki makes the fur fly in his classic tale of the talking cat "Tobermory" voiced by Rene Auberjonois, another Selected Shorts leading man.  And a how-do guide to living like a cat, Helen Ellis's "Take it From Cats," is read by Maria Dizzia.

This program concludes with an eerie reversal of fortune in "Rosalyn's Dog," by Arthur Bradford, read by John Benjamin Hickey.

Thursday

Selected Shorts Spring Trio 2017: Entering the Twilight Zone

Guest host Robert Sean Leonard presents a tribute to the "The Twilight Zone."  Two of the three stories on this show were performed at Symphony Space as part of an evening celebrating the classic television show , created by Rod Serling.  Serling and his writers started in pulp fiction, but they were also humanists.  They used elements of fantasy, horror, and science fiction to tackle important social issues.

One of the stories adapted for the series was Price Day's "Four O'Clock."  A self-appointed vigilante with magical powers knows just how to make the world a better place.   Next from our selection of "Twilight Zone" stories is Charles Beaumont's "Perchance to Dream.”  A man consults his doctor about a sleep disorder, and the boundaries between waking and dreaming blur.  

The final story in this show was not part of "The Twilight Zone," but author Roald Dahl is also a master of the uncanny.  While he's known for his enchanting and playful children's books, in short fiction he had a darker side, in such works as "Lamb to the Slaughter", and the story we'll hear on this show, "The Landlady."  A young man finds the perfect bed-and-breakfast--and the perfect hostess.  The reader is  Sam Underwood.