Selected Shorts: Two Tough Love Stories

Love has been the inspiration for many stories, often romantic and rose colored, but on this program, we’re featuring two stories that are about the tougher side of love, or how you sometimes have to go through tough times to find true love.

The first is the classic anthologized and often imitated “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” by the godfather of modern American short stories, Raymond Carver.

Just as the title promises, the two couples sitting around a bottle of gin in the late afternoon begin a long winding road of reminiscences about their loves and former marriages.   SHORTS literary commentator Hannah Tinti notes “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” is the title story of Raymond Carver’s third collection of stories, which was published in 1981. Carver was born in 1938 in Oregon and grew up in Washington. He’s known as both a poet and a master of the short story, and has influenced an entire generation of writers, including me. Reading Carver’s stories really transformed my writing and my life.”

She continues, “In 2007, with the permission of Carver’s widow, Tess Gallagher,

The New Yorker did a great piece where they showed Carver’s original draft of “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” (Carver had originally titled it “Beginners”) and published it side-by-side with the version edited by Gordan Lish—his longtime editor—showing all the cuts and re-written sections.”  Here is a link to that feature: Primary Sources: "Beginners," Edited.

The Carver story is read grandiloquently by Leonard Nimoy.  It contains a prodigious amount of social drinking, by current standards, and Nimoy commented to host Isaiah Sheffer, “I don’t drink, but this would be a story to attempt to read with a large glass of Scotch in your hand!”

Our second story is by an even earlier American master, Dorothy Thomas, who was born in 1898 in Barnes, Kansas and grew up near Lincoln, Nebraska, where she was influenced by that other great Nebraskan writer, Willa Cather. Her books include the novels Ma Jeeter's Girls, and The Home Place, and the collection: The Getaway and Other Stories.   “The Getaway” was first published in The New Yorker, and the magazine’s unbridled first editor, Harold Ross, is rumored to have said it was "the best damn story ever in The New Yorker."

Listeners can judge for themselves as they hear Mia Dillon’s charming read of a story about an overworked mother all ready to run away from it all—if only “Junior” would let her!

“What We Talk About  When We Talk About Love,” by Raymond Carver, performed by Leonard Nimoy

“The Getaway,” by Dorothy Thomas, performed by Mia Dillon  

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

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.