Suspend Your Disbelief

Shop Talk |

Short Stories Out Loud


I frequently happen upon Selected Shorts on NPR midway through a story and go through a predictable course of thinking: I’ve missed the first part of the story. I should just download the podcast and hear it from the top. Wow, that sentence was brilliant. What the heck is going on here? And then I end up listening to the conclusion of the story and enjoying it immensely.

Now that I’m in New York, I hope to make it to one of the live stage performances of Selected Shorts. If you’re lucky enough to already have a ticket, on May 26th Selected Shorts will celebrate the stories of This American Life with an evening featuring Ira Glass, Mike Birbiglia and Elna Baker. Just in time for Short Story Month, this evening is also a part of New York Book Week. I’m excited for the Audience Favorites performance on June 9, when three stories nominated and chosen by listeners over the past season will be read onstage.

espressoBut no matter where you are, a short story read aloud is a very fine thing, so check out your local library or bookstore to see if any authors are visiting or giving readings. I’ve also been thinking a short story supper club might be the busy friends’ solution to the book group. Each week or month, one person could read a favorite short story after dinner or over a cup of coffee, discussion to follow. Pre-reading not a requirement.

What are some of your ideas about how to celebrate the read-out-loud story?

Join the Discussion

  • Jackie Reitzes

    I also am in New York (and a short story writer) who would love to be more involved in a literary community here — if you decide to start your supper club and are in the market for new members, I think it’s a great idea!

  • Mia Littlejohn

    When I was younger and less self-conscious a favorite dinner party game was the collective story or poem. It’s well known and basic but worth reviving. In case you’ve never played here’s how: the host or guest of honor gets to write the first sentence. Then the story is passed from one guest to another, with each guest adding their own sentence or two. If the gathering is celebrating something (perhaps Midsummer Night’s Eve) you could give the story a theme (like: Seasons or Change) to help inform the progression. Of course, once everyone has had a chance to contribute, the story is read aloud to the group. I find this an entertaining and lighthearted way to celebrate storytelling with friends.

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