Selected Shorts: Saints and Sinners

Master storyteller Edna O’Brien on muses on love, death, and regret in two stories and a twisty tale from Robert Coover condenses the meaning of life.


Edna O’Brien’s devastating stories are lyrical and direct, and, like her native Ireland, intertwine love, sex, war, and death in complex ways.  On this program we present “Sinners,” read by “Sex in the City” alum Cynthia Nixon, and “Black Flower,” read by fellow writer Colum McCann.

In the first O’Brien tale, an aging landlady suspects her boarders of flagrant behavior, and mourns her own loss of passion. In “Black Flower,” O’Brien probes the charged relationship between a prison art teacher and a convicted IRA terrorist.

The program closes with a quirky work by American author Robert Coover.  A man, “going for a beer,” winds up on the short road to the end of his life, in a bemused read by SHORTS host Isaiah Sheffer.

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

“Sinners,” by Edna O’Brien, performed by Cynthia Nixon

“Black Flower,” by Edna O’Brien, performed by Colum McCann

“Going for a Beer,” by Robert Coover; performed by Isaiah Sheffer

 For additional works featured on SELECTED SHORTS, please visit

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And for more thoughts on the stories in SHORTS, check out literary commentator Hannah Tinti’s site at

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.