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Publisher's Summary

Selected Shorts is an award-winning series of classic and contemporary short fiction read by acclaimed actors. The readings are recorded live at Peter Norton Symphony Space in New York City. The Selected Shorts radio series is a co-production of Symphony Space and WNYC, New York Public Radio, and is heard on public radio stations nationwide.

In this collection:

  • Nicholson Baker's "Subsoil" read by Thomas Gibson - A darkly comic thriller about a tractor historian besieged by man-eating potatoes.
  • John Updike's "Farrell's Caddie" read by Charles Keating - An American golfer gets more than golfing tips from his Scottish caddie.
  • David Schickler's "Jamaica" read by Isaiah Sheffer - A man with his head stuck between the banisters has no choice but to listen in on his wife's "Gorgon Book Club".
  • Neil Gaiman's "Chivalry" read by Christina Pickles - A delicious tale of an elderly British matron who buys the Holy Grail at a rummage sale.
  • Leonard Michaels' "Nachman from Los Angeles" read by David Rackoff - A wonderfully silly tale of misadventure on a college campus.
  • Ron Carlson's "On the U.S.S. Fortitude" read by Laura Esterman - A decommissioned aircraft carrier becomes home for a single welfare mother and her children in this zany story.
  • Etgar Keret's "Fatso" read by John Guare - An offbeat romance with a very comic nightly ritual.
©2004 The Symphony Space, Inc. (P)2004 The Symphony Space, Inc.

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What listeners say about Selected Shorts

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Steve
  • Steve
  • 26-11-2005

Wonderful Radio Show

These are stories read by for the most part by professional actors from a New York & LA public radio series. The match of readings and reader are always interesting. All of the stories in this offering are good, but "On the U.S.S. Fortitude" is absolutely delightful. The radio show is a weekly hour-long show featuring similar readings including classic as well as modern short stories. I'd love to see them provide a weekly subscription and some old compilations which they released on cassette, particularly a wonderful baseball compilation.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ruth Green
  • 02-10-2010

An index of the stories

For those who would like to be able to locate individual stories quickly:
0 ??? 27:26 * Nicholson Baker's "Subsoil";
27:40 ??? 49:54 * John Updike's "Farrell's Caddie";
50:22 ???1:28:47 * David Schickler's "Jamaica";
1:29:10 ??? 1:55:45 * Neil Gaiman's "Chivalry";
1:56 ???2:43 * Leonard Michaels' "Nachman from Los Angeles";
2:43:45???2:55:45 * Ron Carlson's "On the U.S.S. Fortitude";
2:56???3:04:57 * Etgar Keret's "Fatso"

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Cathy Dopp
  • 19-03-2006

Creative Writing (and Reading) done well

This is a great selection of truly entertaining stories. I could not predict the outcome of a single plot - and my outbursts of laughter had more than a few people baffled on my flight home from Denver.

The readers are as great as the stories - whoever cast them was a genius. I also enjoyed the shorter formats (about 30 minutes each) which made room for enough details, but didn't drag things out. Do be prepared that there is some adult language in two of the stories, and some downright explicit situations in the last piece. If it weren't for the language in the last story (which was still a great story) I would have recommended this listen for all age groups.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Leslie
  • 09-06-2006

Funny stories, poor audio

These stories were entertaining, and in a sort of way I'm not used to - quite fun. The only downside I had to this recording was that the volume levels were so extreme I was constantly having to grab the volume knob on the radio in the vehicle while driving - from barely audible to blaringly loud.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jo
  • 17-08-2006


I am a huge npr shorts fan. they never let me down. this one didn't either!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Timo
  • 28-04-2011

Not funny.

I decided to give the "Lots of Laughs!"-series a second try, hoping that my first buy was just an unhappy coincidence. However, unfortunately, this book too is just not funny. I love Neil Gaiman and his story is the only one that I found sweetly funny, but the title "lot's of laughs" suggests something different to me. Sadly, most stories didn't even make me smile, let alone laugh out loud.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Lynne Blinkenberg
  • 27-10-2020

Not LOL funny,,,

A periodic grin, but does not live up to the title. Really wanted to love these stories.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-01-2013

Not funny! Some rude content!

Would you try another book from the authors and/or the narrators?

I might, but it would have to be a different subject and not live readings.

Would you ever listen to anything by the authors again?


Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Pretty much.

What character would you cut from Selected Shorts?

Not applicable due to this being a collection of stories.

Any additional comments?

I chose this to listen to with my teenage son as we both enjoy humor. There was little humor and a moderate amount of the 'f' word in several of the stories, used as in, "and he f*d her behind the dumpster", "and they f*d..." etc. I'm not objected to rude language in many cases, but the usage in these stories was just crude. It would be good to include some sort of info in the description if the story contains crudeness.None of the stories is what I would call funny; most were pretty weird. They were all performed live, so the actual reading of them varied a bit in volume and clarity, with some live audience sounds.I would definitely recommend not purchasing this book if you are expecting funny or if you have children listening, especially teenage boys.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for David Eggerschwiler
  • David Eggerschwiler
  • 24-03-2008

Funny live recordings

This collection contains seven humorous short stories recorded live by Symphony Space. The live recording has the advantage that you can hear the audience's reaction, however, a couple of verbal errors crept in which couldn't be edited out.
My favorite stories in this collection are 'Chivalry' by Neil Gaiman, 'On the U.S.S. Fortitude' by Ron Carlson and 'Fatso' by Etgar Keret.

  • Overall
    out of 5 stars
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  • William
  • 29-05-2007

Funny Entertaining

A treat to listen to.

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  • David F
  • 23-12-2020

More Like This Please

What a perfect collection... and all the better for being performed live in front of a crowd. More like this please!!!

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