Selected Shorts: French Fictions

“A Parisian Affair,” by Guy de Maupassant, performed by Rene Auberjonois; excerpt from “Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow,” by Faiza Guene, performed by Sonia Manzano; The Secret of the Old Music,” by Auguste Vil

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

We might call this program, “Contes Choisis,” the French for “Selected Shorts,” since it presents selections from a PASSPORT TO PARIS evening at Symphony Space, our series’ theatrical home, and one surreal classic from an earlier show hosted by former Metropolitan Museum director Philippe de Montebello.

And what better way to open a program of French-themed short stories than with one of the more than 300 published short fictions by Guy de Maupassant (1850 to 1893), one of the acknowledged masters of the form?  His “A Parisian Affair,” depicts the adventures of a bored provincial housewife seeking the Paris of her fantasies.  It was translated by Sian Miles and read by stage and screen star Rene Auberjonois, who, though born in New York City, is related to Napoleon Bonaparte.

From the sophisticated salons and boudoirs of de Maupassant’s Paris, our second story takes us to the public housing projects of the Paris suburb of Pantin, and to a work by Faiza Guene, a child of Algerian immigrants who grew up there. What you will hear is an excerpt from her first novel, Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow, published in 2005 when she was only 19 years old.  She has since written Dreams from the Endz, and Some Dream for Fools.  The excerpt is read by long-time SHORTS player Sonia Manzano, who has for many years voiced the character of Maria on Sesame Street and is a published children’s book author in her own right.

We complete this French fiction hour with rare and strange 1878 piece about the phantom transmission of a musical secret across the generations, “The Secret of the Old Music,” by the French aristocrat Auguste Villiers de l’Isle Adam, vibrantly read by Philippe de Montebello, who selected it.

The musical interlude is from Tom Wait’s  “Just Another Sucker on the Vine,” and the SELECTED SHORTS theme is Roger Kellaway’s “Come to the Meadow.”

For additional works featured on SELECTED SHORTS, please visit

We’re interested in your response to these programs.  Please comment on this site or visit


Rene Auberjonois and Philippe de Montebello

Comments [3]

Cory Potts from Gagny (Paris), FR

I am from Seattle originally, currently living outside Paris teaching english in a high school and biking through Paris on my off days as a bike messenger. I started listening to "French Fictions" at the end of my shift today near the top of Rue Lafayette in the 10e. I could have reached the Chaussée d'Antin by the time Maupassant's M. Jean-Verin was leaving with the country solicitor's lawful wife. At the end of my shift, the story was ending and I was winding my way out of the city through the 19e. How shocked I was hearing, next, Faize Guene's voice from Pantin as I rode towards my house in Gagny through Pantin on the N3. It was a rare treat to find such a thorough treatment of Paris, from inside and out.

Apr. 20 2011 01:54 PM

From the producers:

Unfortunately, copyright restrictions prevent us from streaming or archiving these programs, but they are available for a limited time as podcasts on iTunes,; and at And some individual stories have been made available on cassettes or CD anthologies; please see our website, for information about these.
However, all the details about the authors and readers can be found on the individual program pages, and more information on where the stories featured on SELECTED SHORTS are available in print can be found at,

Apr. 04 2011 08:34 AM
mary ann

how do I listen to past recordings

Apr. 02 2011 04:10 PM

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