Selected Shorts: What the Blind Can See

This program features two stories in which houses figure, and represent more than just a domicile.  In Yasunari Kawabata’s “Household,” a husband takes his blind wife to “see”, so to speak, a possible house where they might live.  “To the blind, houses are alive,” she says.  All the Kawabata stories we have presented as part of SELECTED SHORTS are terse, short, haiku-like gems, and this one is no exception.  The reader is Fionnula Flanagan.

David Drury’s “What We Knew When the House Caught Fire,” is a provocative comic look at social stratification.  A genteel California suburb is disrupted by the arrival of an untidy, eccentric family.  In the voice of the child narrator, “They didn’t look the part, and it was our duty to make them aware of it.”  In a conversation with SHORTS host Isaiah Sheffer, Drury says that he was influenced by a news item about a fire during which the firehouse door fails to open, but also by the parable of the Good Samaritan.  The story was selected by Richard Russo for inclusion in Best American Short Stories 2010.   The reader is Keith Szarabajka, a Hollywood based actor and writer, whose credits include “The Equalizer,” and “Cold Case.”

The musical interludes are from “Dog Asleep,” by Peter Schickele, from Thurber’s Dogs, and “Rhapsody for Twenty-string Koto,” by Reiko Kimuta, on Music for Koto.

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

“Household,” by Yasunari Kawabata read by Fionnula Flanagan

“Things We Knew When the House Caught Fire,” by David Drury read by Keith Szarabajka 

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