Selected Shorts: Eccentrics

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Guest host Stephen Colbert presents stories with anarchists and oddballs by John Sayles and George Saunders.

On this SELECTED SHORTS show, we have two great stories about eccentrics taking a stand.  It takes a brilliant eccentric like film director John Sayles to come up with an oxymoron like an “anarchists’ convention.” In his “At the Anarchists’ Convention,” fierce old lefties fight everything from the fruit cup to the manager at their annual banquet. The story was published in The Atlantic Monthly, included in The Best American Short Stories 1980 and was the title story in Sayles’ collection The Anarchists’ Convention and Other Stories. The reader is comic actor Jerry Stiller, best known for the role of Frank Costanza on the sitcom “Seinfeld.”  

In our second story, “The Falls,” by George Saunders, two inadequate men are faced with the same crisis. We know them only by their self-absorbed interior monologues, until the moment when each faces a situation that can’t be ignored or fantasized about. Reader Rene Auberjonois hand-picked this one, which first appeared in The New Yorker.

George Saunders is the recipient of a MacArthur "Genius" grant and the author of short story collections including In Persuasion Nation, Pastoralia, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, and Tenth of December: Stories.  He teaches at Syracuse University’s MFA program.

“At the Anarchists Convention,” by John Sayles, performed by Jerry Stiller  

“The Falls,” by George Saunders, performed by Rene Auberjonois

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

Information about the 2014 Stella Kupferberg Short Story Prize Competition is available now:

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


Rene Auberjonois, Stephen Colbert and Jerry Stiller

Produced by:

Sarah Montague

Comments [7]

Dear J Lobdell

Thank you for your kind words and interest in SELECTED SHORTS. Unfortunately, due to copyright and licensing restrictions, we are able to offer audio in the form of podcasts only for a limited period after the first broadcast of a program. Please check our website,, to see if any of these stories might be included in future CD compilations, and for information about where to find them in print.

From the producers

Mar. 03 2014 10:20 AM
J Lobdell from CT

Thank you for the wonderful programming!
I would love to listen to this. Is there a podcast available?

Mar. 02 2014 10:06 AM
SK Figler from Central Coast of California

First-timer hearing Selected Shorts. Love it.

Feb. 14 2014 01:13 AM

From the Producer

Thanks, Nick for reminding us of another facet of Jerry Stiller's distinguished career as a comic actor, in partnership with his wife Anne Meara. They were also both part of Joe Papp's earliest efforts to bring Shakespeare to New Yorkers, so have had very long and varied careers indeed.

Jan. 27 2014 09:21 AM
Nick Barshay from Cordova Alaska

"The reader is comic actor Jerry Stiller, best known for the role of Frank Costanza on the sitcom “Seinfeld.”" I think NOT! He is best know as one half of the great comedy act "Stiller and Meara." We may have a short attention span in this television society, but radio listeners have a bit more depth.

Jan. 20 2014 06:14 PM
Anita Feldman from East Village, NY

"The Anarchists' Convention" was a marvelous surprise. I didn't know Sayles wrote short stories. And I've been a fan of Saunders from the first time I read his work, in Harpers Magazine. I'd been missing "Selected Shorts" because I keep my radio on FM and didn't find it there. This program brought me back.

Jan. 20 2014 05:10 PM
Garry Rich from NYC NoHo.

Wonderful. Thank you.

Jan. 20 2014 01:32 AM

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