Selected Shorts: Convergence

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David Sedaris presents a Flannery O’Connor classic, and a bittersweet road story by Amy Hempel.

On this program, two stories about convergence.   In Flannery O’Connor’s classic “Everything that Rises Must Converge” two cultures collide, and so do mother and son.  The title is taken from an essay by a Jesuit priest, Pierre Chardin and refers, perhaps ironically, to the ascension of Christ.  It is masterful portrait of a shabby genteel woman, unable to cope with racial integration in the South (the story was published in 1965), and teaches harsh lessons about pride and humility. 

It is also, says host David Sedaris, “a great story about family,” one that impressed him so much when he first heard this reading by Estelle Parsons, that he taped it off his car radio “and played it over and over and over.”  

Flannery O’Connor’s other works include the novels Wise Blood and The Violent Bear It Away and the short story collections A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Everything That Rises Must Converge, and The Complete Stories, for which she posthumously won the National Book Award.

“Jesus is Waiting” has only oblique religious implications, in this characteristically serio-comic tale of failed love and self-discovery by Amy Hempel.  It’s the title of a recording by the Reverend Al Green, given to the narrator by “the man who won’t speak to me.”  She’s taken to the road to get away from herself, but, as she observes ruefully:  “The geographic cure, these bouts of driving, with the age-old bit built in: ‘Wherever you go, there you are.’”  The reader is Mary Stuart Masterson.

Amy Hempel’s works include At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom, Tumble Home, The Dog of the Marriage, and The Collected Stories.  She is the recipient of the Rea Award for the Short Story (2008) and the PEN/Malamud Award for Short Fiction (2009).  She teaches at Harvard University and Bennington College.

“Everything that Rises Must Converge.” by Flannery O’Connor, performed by Estelle Parsons

“Jesus is Waiting,” by Amy Hempel, performed by Mary Stuart Masterson

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

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And for more thoughts on the stories in SHORTS, check out literary commentator Hannah Tinti’s site at