Selected Shorts: Favorites from One Story Magazine

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SELECTED SHORTS celebrates One Story Magazine’s tenth anniversary with three works by favorite authors. 

SHORTS literary commentator Hannah Tinti is also the co-founder and editor of “One Story Magazine”.  In her words, “our publisher, Maribeth Batcha and myself decided to create a new kind of magazine, one that we hoped would support up and coming authors, create a community of readers, and celebrate the creative form of the short story by publishing stories individually, in tiny pamphlets—a kind of short-story of the month club.”

“One Story” has published 180 authors from all over the world, and Tinti and contributing author Jim Shepard curate an hour with works by three favorites.

First, “Nephilim,” L. Annette Binder’s heart-rending portrait of a lonely woman with gigantism.  “Nephilim” was published in “One Story” in the fall of 2010 and went on to win a Pushcart Prize.

Tinti comments, “According to Genesis, the Nephilim were the offspring of fallen angels and ordinary human women. They were giants, and supposedly one of the reasons (along with men’s wickedness) for the Flood. They were so hungry, that they ate everything, and were destroying the earth.  But there are different kinds of hunger, and Freda, the giantess in this story, still hungers for life, even as her condition keeps her from experiencing it.  L. Annette Binder captures that longing so well—you can feel Freda’s emotional aching, alongside the physical aching in her bones.”

L. Annette Binder was born in Germany and grew up in Colorado.  Rise, her first collection of short stories, includes “Nephilim.”

“Nephilim” is read by Colby Minifie, who made her debut on off-Broadway debut in “Close Up Space.”

Author Tom Barbash draws on his own past in his story “Balloon Night,” which was published by “One Story” in July 2007.   It’s set on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the night before the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, when all of the giant balloons are inflated. 

For residents of what’s known as “Balloon Block,” it’s traditional to throw a party to watch the balloons come to life.  Barbash grew up on “Balloon Block,” and remembers his parents parties fondly, but he puts a dark spin on the ritual in this story.  The protagonist, Timkin, is trying conceal from his guests the fact that his wife has left him.  Tinti notes:  “The story captures how the holidays can highlight all the ways your own family or relationships are lacking. And how holiday parties, where people from your past and present come together, can represent your entire life. In the story Timkin thinks: ‘You could see your entire past all at once and you could figure out who you were and what it all added up to.’

Barbash is an associate professor in the MFA program at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, and the author of the novel The Last Good Chance.

“Balloon Night” is read by Tom Cavanagh.

“I’ve been interested in disaster for long time,” says Jim Shepard of his shattering miniature of a tale, “Cretan Love Song,” which slices through time to 1600 B.C., and the moment when the volcanic island of Thera erupts and eclipses Minoan civilization, changing the landscape of history forever.  Shepard researched the story for months, but comments laconically, “when you start with the greatest disaster in history, you can’t write a really long story!” 

Shepard’s short story “The World to Come” was “One Story” issue #16, is the author of ten books, the most recent being his collection, You Think That’s Bad.   He teaches creative writing at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and you can listen to his interview with Hannah Tinti here:

“Cretan Love Song” is performed by SHORTS regular Joe Morton.

“Nephilim,” by Annette Binder, performed by Colby Minifie

“Balloon Night,” by Tom Barbash, performed by Tom Cavanagh

“Cretan Love Song,” by Jim Shepard, performed by Joe Morton

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.