Selected Shorts: Wanting More

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Guest host Neil Gaiman presents two ironic stories about wish fulfillment in this rebroadcast of a popular show from last season.

In D.H. Lawrence’s classic, “The Rocking Horse Winner,” a young boy tries to help a family obsessed by money. In the show, SHORTS literary commentator Hannah Tinti and guest host Gaiman discuss its unusual qualities.  Unlike Lawrence’s well-known novels of class conflict and adult desire, like Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Women in Love, this tale has a fairy-tale quality, says Gaiman, with hints of the Oedipus legend, Tinti notes.  It was originally published in 1926, and is performed here by the Irish actress Fionnula Flanagan, who bewitches Symphony Space audiences each year with her reading of Molly Bloom’s sexy soliloquy from James Joyce’s Ulysses

Our second story is Ben Loory’s provocative short, “The Book.”  It imagines an unusual bestseller—a book with, seemingly, no text.  Gaiman and Tinti discuss what this idea reveals about readers—the main character is a woman enraged by the book—and writers, with Gaiman saying a blank book is an invitation to reveal.

“The Book” is from Ben Loory’s story collection, Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day, which was published in 2011 by Penguin. It is performed by Jane Kaczmarek, herself one of our guest hosts.

“The Rocking Horse Winner,” by D.H. Lawrence, performed by Fionnula Flanagan

“The Book,” by Ben Loory, performed by Jane Kaczmarek

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

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

We’re interested in your response to these programs.  Please comment on this site or visit

And if you’d like to try your hand at writing short fiction, find out about this year’s Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize, with the theme “Tales after Dark,” and guest judge Rick Moody.

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