Selected Shorts: How to be a Man

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4 segments

Guest host Colum McCann curates a show with many takes on masculinity.

Readings are drawn from the anthology, The Book of Men, created with Esquire magazine and the storytelling collective Narrative 4.  Writers of both sexes and many nationalities were asked to explore the provocative topic “How to Be a Man,” and we include fourteen works here, with moods ranging from slyly humorous to somber.  Some are as brilliant and slight as lit match, like Jason Porter’s apocalyptic teenage boy’s life list; some are vivid short character studies—Ayana Mathis sketches a fan dancer with a heart; Roddy Doyle offers a touching father-son story.  In Colum McCann's own powerful story of a female soldier who is raped,  she is brought to life by the vivid voice of her grieving aunt.  Some are literary tour de forces—Adam Haslett’s sums up the male experience one discreet eventful sentence at a time; Jessica Stoffer tells three love stories at once; Ben Fountain leads us inside the Statue of Liberty.

All, says host McCann, partake “of the fundamental democracy of the storytelling experience, where we cross borders and boundaries, and eventually discover ourselves.”

Four are available as segments below.

The readers of the various works are Gabriel Byrne, Stockard Channing, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Corey Stoll, and BD Wong.

The SELECTED SHORTS theme is David Peterson's “That's the Deal,” performed by the Deardorf/Peterson Group.

This program also uses the musical piece "Border Blaster (Instrumental Version)" by Josh Woodward from his album "Breadcrumbs," via a Creative Commons Attribution license and the WFMU Free Music Archive at  

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