Selected Shorts: Wacky Families

At this holiday season of gathering and homecoming, we’re offering two funny tales about families. 

In David Schickler’s tender but comic, “Jamaica,” an impetuous move traps the man of the house in his banister on the night of his wife’s book club meeting, and he learns more than he bargained for about life and love.  The story was first published in The New Yorker, and SHORTS literary commentator Hannah Tinti says it’s a perfect example of  Schickler’s “sly humor and his unique way of turning up the heat in classic domestic scenarios.”   He’s the author of the celebrated story collection Kissing in Manhattan, from which we’ve featured several pieces, and a novel, Sweet and Vicious.  The bemused husband is rendered by SHORST host Isaiah Sheffer.

Ron Carlson, the author of our second family gathering story, is an imaginative writer who can take a wild comic premise for a short story and ride it for all it is worth.  What if the Government, say, had excess aircraft carriers they didn’t know what to do with, and also saw a need for housing for low-income, single-parent families?  The result might be what you hear as the ineffable comedienne and actress Laura Esterman stands on the bridge with her binoculars, having prepared dinner, and wonders where those darn kids could be?  The story is entitled “On the U.S.S. Fortitude, and comes from Carlson’s collection appropriately entitled, Plan B for the Middle Class.  Carlson’s other books include the novels The Signal and Five Skies, and “Ron Carlson Writes a Short Story,” which Tinti says “takes the reader step-by-step through the process—amazing reading.” He teaches writing at the University of California, Irvine, and was the 2009 winner of the Rea Award for the Short Story.

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

“Jamaica,” by David Schickler, performed by Isaiah Sheffer

“On the U.S.S. Fortitude,” by Ron Carlson, performed by Laura Esterman 

 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.