Selected Shorts: Modern Fables

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Friday, February 07, 2014

Guest host Stephen Colbert presents two modern fables.


On this show, we’ve got a fire-breathing dragon, and a fire-starting guy.  In Gail Godwin’s “St. George,” a lonely medieval scholar loses a boyfriend but acquires a pet dragon—really.  This sweetly funny romance pokes fun at mythology, urban legends, and academics who take themselves too seriously.  Reader Jane Curtin is up to this triple threat.  Gail Godwin is the author of over a dozen novels, including, most recently, Flora, and the short-story collections Mr. Bedford and the Muses and Dream Children.   

There’s something almost heroic about the down-on-his-luck hero of Annie Proulx’s “The Trickle-Down Effect.”  Deb Sipple “had had it both ways—easy and hard.”  We meet him in the midst of “hard,” when one of the odd jobs he takes to keep his bar bills at bay goes horribly, hilariously wrong.  James Naughton is as dry as the hay Sipple is transporting.  Annie Proulx is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Shipping News.  Wyoming is the setting for many of her stories, and the titles of three of her Wyoming Stories’ collections sum up the wry flavor she gives the state and its inhabitants: Close Range, Just Fine the Way It Is, and Bad Dirt.

“St. George,” by Gail Godwin, performed by Jane Curtin

“The Trickle-Down Effect,” by Annie Proulx, performed by James Naughton

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




Stephen Colbert, Jane Curtin and James Naughton

Produced by:

Sarah Montague

Comments [3]

Jeannette Brown from Mashpee, MA

I cannot get the story of "St. george" out of my mind. It started off so funny (Jane Curtin was amazing) but turned so poignant It is haunting me. I am so glad I found this on my channel during a long enough ride home in my car. NPR is the best.

Feb. 16 2014 01:26 PM
GaBrotha from Atlanta

Loved this week's stories, especially the reading by Jane Curtain of "St. George." I could feel the emotions and want for a connection that eventually enabled Silas to enter back into the apartment.

Feb. 12 2014 11:23 PM
priscilla from WRVO

I love Jane Curtin. I have seen her several times on the "tube" and always loved her facial expressions and hearing her on the radio you can still see those expressions.
Michael Imperioli is another one that you can hear his expressions. I love his voice too. Thank you for having these people reading such wonderful "shorts" for them. Whomever chooses the reads for these 2 people chooses WELL!

Feb. 10 2014 10:05 AM

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