Selected Shorts: A Touch of Magic

Four tales with a hint of fantasy -- from a fateful encounter on a bus, to a lovesick monster.

 “The Palmist,” by Andrew Lam, read by James Naughton

“The Occasional Garden,” by Saki, read by Daniel Gerroll

“The Balloon,” by Donald Barthelme, read by Maria Tucci 

“The Little Green Monster,” by Haruki Murakami, read by Dana Ivey

In the first story on this magical program, Andrew Lam’s “The Palmist,” a teenage boy encounters an unusual palm-reader on a bus. The reader is the Tony-Award winning actor and director, James Naughton.

We move from predictions to predicaments in our next story, Saki’s “The Occasional Garden,” in which an upper-class woman whose garden can’t compete with others in her social circle is introduced to an unusual service. Appropriately enough, this story was read in one of our programs at The Mount, the Lenox, Massachusetts home of Edith Wharton, an estate with sumptuous gardens and landscaping, since Ms. Wharton, who was considered a decorating authority in her day, never had to resort to subterfuges of any kind. The reader is the actor and director Daniel Gerroll.

Donald Barthelme’s surreal story “The Balloon” describes its sudden appearance in the sky over Manhattan, where it soon occupies “an area forty five blocks long and several avenue blocks wide” and begins to alter the thoughts and behavior of New Yorkers. Maria Tucci reads with wry charm, and delivers an elegant surprise ending.

The program closes with Haruki Murakami’s unsettling tale “The Little Green Monster,” which faces a repressed housewife with a deceptively nightmarish creature. Dana Ivey reads.

The musical interlude in this program is “English Country Garden”, by Percy Grainger. The SELECTED SHORTS theme is Roger Kellaway’s “Come to the Meadow.”

For additional works featured on SELECTED SHORTS, please click here.

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