Selected Shorts: Passion for the Park

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This week, we celebrate Central Park and the wonderful heartbreak of baseball.

It’s not easy being green in New York City, but Central Park has been an oasis in a land of high rises since the late 19th century, and its natural beauty and unique character have inspired many writers.  Some of those writings were collected in Central Park: An Anthology, edited by Andrew Blauner, and were part of a special program at Symphony Space.

We’re featuring two pieces from the anthology.  First, an excerpt from Colson Whitehead’s The Colossus of New York—a funny, peripatetic stream-of-consciousness stroll through the Park in spring, and Susan Cheever’s “My Little Bit of Country.”  Whitehead says that New Yorkers stream into the Park “hardly aware of the biological  imperative” and encounter everything—young lovers, yogis, unicyclists, dead squirrels, and “green.”  Leonard Nimoy leads this tour.  Cheever’s charming essay recalls the childhood magic of the park, and bemoans the fact that her writer father John uprooted his family to the suburbs.  Broadway star Debra Monk voices Cheever’s love affair with “the natural wonderland that is wild enough to delight.”

In between, an excerpt from Walter Dean Myers memoir Bad Boy, which chronicles his troubled childhood and yearning to write.  He remembers the Park as a place of both escape and discovery, where he climbs trees and first reads James Joyce.

The program concludes with another celebration of the rites of spring, if not of Central Park.  The late baseball commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti’s essay “The Green Fields of the Mind” (written, oddly for his Yale alumni magazine) is a favorite of ours, and was read by the author himself.

“Central Park,” by Colson Whitehead, performed by Leonard Nimoy

Bad Boy (selection) by Walter Dean Myers, performed by Eric Poindexter

“My Little Bit of Country,” by Susan Cheever, performed by Debra Monk

“The Green Fields of the Mind,” by A. Bartlett Giamatti, performed by the author

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