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Pressing Engagements

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

A musical prodigy electrifies a local radio station; and in the not too distant future, America is housed under a gigantic dome, in two intriguing fantasies.
"Things in the world now appear smaller, more toylike. An object that once towered above us—a tall pine, a steep hill, a snowcapped mountain— is itself dwarfed by the Dome, which by the ever-present fact of its vastness miniaturizes what it encloses."
--Steven Millhauser, “The Dome”


A musical prodigy electrifies a local radio station; and in the not too distant future, America is housed under a gigantic dome, in two intriguing fantasies.


The two stories on this program embrace the past and imagine the future. Lisa Halliday’s “Stump Louie,” published in The Paris Review imagines a musical prodigy who takes a local radio station to new heights. The story takes place before America’s entry into World War II, and is filled with the atmosphere of small town live radio broadcasts and popular music of that early 1940’s era. “Stump Louie” was Halliday’s first published work of fiction, and was introduced on stage at Symphony Space by the Senior Editor of The Paris Review, Nathaniel Rich. The reader is SELECTED SHORTS host Isaiah Sheffer, who is a fan of the type of quirky love song celebrated in this bittersweet tale. Listen for one such tune, “I Say It’s Spinach,” in the midbreak.

The program’s second story, Steven Millhauser’s “The Dome” is an architectural fantasy that imagines a time, in the not too distant future, when America will be entirely enclosed in a sphere, and how human life will alter as a result. The story was a Pushcart Prize winner. Millhauser, who teaches at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his book, The Tale of An American Dreamer. The reader is Alec Baldwin, whose many stage, television and film credits include “A Streetcar Named Desire” “Along Came Polly,” “The Departed,” and “30 Rock” for which he has won the Emmy Award.

The final segment of this program includes two stories from ALL WRITE!, an adult-literacy program that is a spin-off of SELECTED SHORTS and features actors reading stories created by participants in literacy programs from the New York area.

“Stump Louie” by Lisa Halliday, read by Isaiah Sheffer
“The Dome” by Steven Millhauser, read by Alec Baldwin
For additional works featured on SELECTED SHORTS, please visit Symphony Space
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