Selected Shorts: Great Expectations

We have three stories to offer on this program that center around the theme of parental expectations, two by outstanding American short story writers, and one by a leading figure in the new generation of Israeli writers.

The first is Mary Robison’s  “An Amateur’s Guide to the Night,” the title story of her most recent collection of stories.  Earlier works include Believe Them, and Tell Me Thirty Stories.   Robison teaches at the University of Florida, and was the winner of the 2009 Rea Award for the Short Story.  The telescope in “An Amateur’s Guide to the Night,” is used to bring in far-off images of The Little Dipper and the planet Jupiter, but the story itself looks deeply into the cosmic realities of a family.  The reader is Patricia Kalember, familiar to television viewers from shows like “Thirty Something,” and “Sisters.”

We turn next to a piece by the master American story teller and chronicler of inter-family relations, John Updike.  It’s entitled, “Learn a Trade,” a phrase used by many American fathers either as practical advice to their children or in exasperation when they feel those children are wasting their lives.  The story also takes up the question of whether the artistic life is, in fact, a respectable, or even a viable way of earning a living.   The reader is SHORTS regular James Naughton.

The program concludes with a whimsical story by the Israeli writer and film-maker Etgar Keret. Its central character is a young student who is the “Pride and Joy,” of his doting parents—so why are they shrinking?  “Pride and Joy” was translated by Sondra Silverston, and is read by Tony winner and “House” star Robert Sean Leonard.

The musical interludes are from Music:  “Zinc,” by Zoe Keating.

The SELECTED SHORTS theme is Roger Kellaway’s “Come to the Meadow.”

“An Amateurs Guide to the Night” by Mary Robison, performed by Patricia Kalember

“Learn a Trade” by John Updike, performed by James Naughton 

“Pride and Joy” by Etgar Keret, performed by Robert Sean Leonard

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