Selected Shorts: Man Walk Into a Bar

Interesting characters at eateries—a working man’s lunch spot, and an Irish pub—link these two stories, one an early work by an American master, the other a contemporary tale by an Irishman.

“Bayonne,” was one of the first stories John Cheever ever published in The New Yorker—among a record 121 over his lifetime—and was the result of a bet with his friend the editor Malcolm Cowley.  The title refers to the nickname of the central figure, a waitress defending her turf.  Cheever’s many published works include The Enormous Radio and Other Stories, The Housebreaker of Shady Hill and Other Stories, The Stories of John Cheever, and the novel The Wapshot Chronicle.

The reader of “Bayonne” is Mary Kay Place, who starred as Loretta Haggers in the television series “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,” as well as on the series “Big Love.”   Place made her SELECTED SHORTS debut reading this piece in Los Angeles at the Getty Center.   

Next, Kevin Barry’s “Fjord of Killary” features a poet with writer’s block try to become a publican, with hilarious results.  The setting is the storm-tossed West of Ireland, and as the flood tides rise, so do the spirits of the morose host, and the motley crew of regulars at the bar.  The reader is Tony Award-winner James Naughton, getting his Irish on.

The author, Kevin Barry, was born in Limerick, Ireland, and now lives in Dublin.  He was awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature for his collection There Are Little Kingdoms.  His most recent work is the novel The City of Bohane.   

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

“Bayonne,” by John Cheever, performed by Mary Kay Place

“Fjord of Killary,” by Kevin Barry, performed by James Naughton

For additional works featured on SELECTED SHORTS, please visit

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

 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.