Selected Shorts: Vantage Points

« previous episode | next episode »

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Studio 360 Episode 930, Philippe, Kehinde, DJ Shadow Philippe Petit walks between the two towers of the World Trade Center in 1974 (©2008 JL Blondeau / Polaris)

Unique points of view in an award-winning novel and a serio-comic short story prompted us to call this program VANTAGE POINTS.    

We were struck by the unusual perspectives — spatial and emotional — employed by the authors of the two featured works.

The first is an excerpt from Colum McCann’s National Book Award-winning novel, Let the Great World Spin. It is from the novel’s beginning, a kind of overture in which New Yorkers watch from many different angles as an unknown aerialist prepares to walk between the Twin Towers. The impact of Philippe Petit’s now-famous walk is vividly and poetically captured in this reading by Broadway star Brian Stokes Mitchell, whose credits include performances in “Man of La Mancha” (Tony nomination and Helen Hayes Award); “Kiss Me Kate” (Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards); “Ragtime” (Tony nomination); August Wilson’s “King Hedley II” (Tony nomination); and “Kiss of the Spider Woman.”  

Our second story offers an unusual, even bizarre, point of view — the narrator of Sherman Alexie’s “Salt” is a substitute obituary-writer for his local Washington State newspaper. The job brings him in contact with an old woman who calls in with a special request, and his clumsy attempts to mix business, sympathy, and death makes for a characteristic Alexie parable that is both deeply moving and deeply funny. The reader is David Strathairn whose many film and theatre roles include his award-winning performances as Edward R. Murrow in “Good Night and Good Luck” and as Martin Heidegger in “Hannah and Martin.”

The musical interlude in this program is Marcos Balter’s “Ut,” performed by Nadia Sirota on the album “First Things First.” The SELECTED SHORTS theme is Roger Kellaway’s “Come to the Meadow.”

Let the Great World Spin (an excerpt) by Colum McCann is read by Brian Stoke Mitchell.  

“Salt,” by Sherman Alexie, is read by David Strathairn.

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

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


Brian Stokes Mitchell and David Strathairn

Hosted by:

Isaiah Sheffer

Produced by:

Sarah Montague

Comments [2]

From the Producers:

Unfortunately, copyright restrictions prevent us from archiving or streaming these programs, but they are available for a limited time as podcasts on iTunes,; and at See the icon in the upper right hand corner, under "About Selected Shorts" to subscribe to the podcast for this program and selected past episodes.

Aug. 01 2011 09:54 AM
paul feldstein from Lincoln Ca

How can I listen again to David Strathaim reading Salt by Sherman Alexie?

Jul. 31 2011 07:51 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.