Selected Shorts: Tales of Dad

In the stories on this program, two fathers have very different impacts on the lives of their children. 

In Mark Strand’s “More Life,” a young man contends with the returning avatars of his dead father.  SHORTS literary commentator Hannah Tinti notes that Strand “plays with the idea of reincarnation, but also explores the classic oedipal myth—the way that sons replace and are subsequently haunted by their own fathers.”  SHORTS host Isaiah Sheffer says he enjoyed embodying this bemused character.  Strand is a former Poet Laureate of the United States, as well as an accomplished prose writer.  “More Life,” comes from his collection, Mr. & Mrs. Baby.

Maxine Swann’s “Creeping” explores fatherhood in quite a different way.  The story of an incorrigible hippie is told from the point of view of his eldest daughter, as she and her siblings struggle to keep their feckless dad in line.  Maxine Swann has been awarded a Ploughshares Cohen Award for best fiction of the year, an O. Henry Award, and a Pushcart Prize.  “Creeping” comes from her book of linked stories called Flower Children and her newest book is The Foreigners.  The likeable but catastrophic dad in “Creeping,” and his long-suffering family, are brought to vivid life by the Tony Award-winning actress Christine Ebsersole, who starred in “Grey Gardens,” “42nd Street,” “Steel Magnolias,” and “Dinner at Eight.” 

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

“More Life,” by Mark Strand, performed by Isaiah Sheffer

“Creeping,” by Maxine Swann, performed by Christine Ebersole  

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.