Selected Shorts: The Lives of Things

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The new season of SELECTED SHORTS begins with a program focusing on the mystery and allure of objects. In Steven Millhauser’s “In the Reign of Harad IV” a court miniaturist longs to create smaller and smaller worlds.  Millhauser has commented on the fact that he moved from novels to short fiction—a reverse of the usual trend for authors—saying, “it’s as if the novel were a kind of preparation for the rigorous pleasures of the shorter form. For me, the shortness of a great story is part of its greatness.”

SHORTS literary commentator Hannah Tinti comments, “it made me wonder if he was like the miniaturist in his story, moving from writing novels to stories. That there is somehow more beauty in something that is smaller and contained. A microcosm of the world.”

The reader, at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, is the distinguished actor, director, and photographer Leonard Nimoy.

Objects are not things of beauty in Aimee Bender’s “Americca,” where she pokes slyly at the land of plenty by giving one family too much.  Duplicates of ordinary household objects keep appearing, leading one character to exclaim, “We’ve been backwards robbed!”  In an interview  with Hannah Tinti, Bender says that it’s important that we don’t know for sure what agent is responsible for the mysterious gifts, and that the story, is “something about home.”   Listen to Hannah Tinti's interview with Bender here:

Bender is the author of the novels An Invisible Sign of My Own and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and story collections including Willful Creatures and The Girl in the Flammable Skirt.

“Americca” was performed by Jane Levy at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.   Levy is featured in the television series “Suburgatory.”  This is her SELECTED SHORTS debut.

In Abigail Thomas’s short piece, “Rocking Chair,” a dilapidated antique tests the strength of a marriage—she thinks it has charm; he thinks it has spiders.  Abigail Thomas’s books include the memoirs A Three-Dog Life and Safekeeping.     The reader is Tony-nominated actress Kate Burton, whose credits include Hedda Gabler on Broadway and a featured role on the television series “Scandal.”   She also appears in Josh Radnor’s movie “Liberal Arts.”

“In the Reign of Harad IV,” by Steven Millhauser, performed by Leonard Nimoy

“Americca,” by Aimee Bender, performed by Jane Levy

“Rocking Chair,” by Abigail Thomas, performed by Kate Burton

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 2013 Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize.  Check this link for details.