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Selected Shorts: Love in Real Life

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Literary boyfriend trouble, and a lie comes to life in two stories from an evening at Symphony Space hosted by the protean fantasy writer Neil Gaiman

Gaiman is the author of the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novel American Gods, the children’s book Coraline, which was made into a movie, as well as contributing to the Sandman series of graphic novels.  His huge fan base—two million strong—follows him on twitter, and many seemed to be on hand for his live appearance with the series.  Gaiman’s theme for the evening was “magical realism”, which he describes as “fiction set very solidly in the world that we know, or even set slightly to one side of the world that we know, but uses its magic to illuminate reality, to make us see things in ways that we’ve never seen them before…as if you were catching your reflection in a mirror, in a restaurant, and you get to examine the person across the room, before you realize it’s yourself.”

Kat Howard, the author of the first story on the program, teaches English Literature at Stony Brook, and is a 2008 graduate of the Clarion Writer’s workshop. This workshop has been dubbed “Sci fi bootcamp” but in this case the “tour of duty” couldn’t have been more fortunate—Gaiman was one of the guest faculty members, and when Howard sent him a draft of her story some months later, he decided it was perfect for the multi-genre anthology he was compiling with Al Sarrantonio, called Stories.

So Howard’s “A Life in Fictions” marks her fiction and broadcast debuts.  The story, about a woman whose novelist boyfriend writes her into his works, is performed by Marin Ireland, who made her Broadway debut in Neil LaBute’s “Reasons to be Pretty.”

Gaiman’s own story, “The Thing About Cassandra” also dissolves the boundaries between real and imagined life.  It’s read by Josh Hamilton—whose stage credits include “Proof” and “The Coast of Utopia,” and whose television credits (almost de rigueur for SHORTS readers) include “Law and Order.”  Hamilton is making his SELECTED SHORTS debut with this reading.

The SELECTED SHORTS theme is David Peterson's “That's the Deal,” performed by the Deardorf/Peterson Group.

“A Life in Fictions,” by Kat Howard, performed by Marin Ireland

“The Thing About Cassandra,” by Neil Gaiman, performed by Josh Hamilton

 For additional works featured on SELECTED SHORTS, please visit http://www.symphonyspace.org/genres/seriesPage.php?seriesId=71&genreId=4

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

 And for more thoughts on the stories in SHORTS, check out literary commentator Hannah Tinti’s site at http://hannahtinti.com

Announcing the 2012 Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize.  This year's theme is “objects of desire.”  The judge is the author Maile Meloy and the deadline is March 2, 2012. 

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