Selected Shorts: Writers on Writing

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents four works in which writers muse on the act of writing.

Three of the stories were featured in a special program in collaboration with New York University’s Creative Writing Program.  The readings took place at Lillian Vernon’s Creative Writers House, an historic 19th-century townhouse in Greenwich Village.

The event felt a little like a literary salon, so appropriately, the first story was Molly Giles’ playful “The Writers’ Model.”  In it, she’s adapted the idea of the traditional “artists’ model.”  An independent young woman counsels clueless male novelists about what women want, and how they think.  Molly Giles is the author of the novel Iron Shoes and the story collections Creek Walk and Other Stories and Rough Translations.  She teaches at the University of Arkansas.

Reader Kaneza Schaal has performed with experimental performance troupes such as The Wooster Group and Elevator Repair Service, and is developing a project, “Please, Bury Me,” based on the Egyptian Book of the Dead.  Previous work with SELECTED SHORTS includes her reading of Karen Russell’s “Reeling for the Empire.” 

Israeli writer and filmmaker Etgar Keret often works the act of writing—and the way a plotline can come to envelop its author—into his stories.  In “Creative Writing,” a wife and husband each take a writing class, and discover their own wild imaginations.  Keret’s published works in English include The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God, The Nimrod Flipout, The Girl on the Fridge, and Suddenly, A Knock on the Door.  Reader Alex Karpovsky is also an independent filmmaker and has a featured role on the hit HBO series “Girls.”

Joan Didion helped to redefine American fiction and journalism in works like Play It as It Lays, A Book of Common Prayer, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, and The Year of Magical Thinking.  Her meticulous essays and unflinching novels mapped the psyche of a particular America.  In the reflective “On Keeping a Notebook,” she gives away some of her trade secrets.  (“I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive or not”).  Reader Parker Posey’s many film appearances include Christopher Guest’s Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, and A Mighty Wind, as well as Laws of Attraction, Superman Returns, and Hemingway and Gellhorn.    

Not from the Lillian Vernon evening, but in keeping with our theme, is a SHORTS favorite—T.C. Boyle’s delicious fantasy of a date with Jane Austen.  Isaiah Sheffer reads “I Dated Jane Austen.”

“The Writers Model,” by Molly Giles, performed by Kaneza Schaal

“Creative Writing,” by Etgar Keret, performed by Alex Karpovsky

“On Keeping a Notebook,” by Joan Didion, performed by Parker Posey

“I Dated Jane Austen,” by TC Boyle, performed by Isaiah Sheffer

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


Jane Kaczmarek and Alex Karpovsky

Produced by:

Sarah Montague
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Comments [1]

Terry Last from nj

Love the idea. Have heard Hanukah stories in Yiddish and English on Wxel. or PBS in Florida

Nov. 28 2013 01:31 PM

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