Selected Shorts: Modern Fables

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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:

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