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Keeping it brief: A celebration of short stories

Closeup of text written on old fashioned typewriter to illustrate the concept of "Less is More".
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When was the last time you read a short story? This hour, we talk about why short stories are so popular in the classroom, but why adults don’t seem to read them much once they’re done with school. And we make the case for why you should. Plus, a look at the art of the short story with some masters of the craft.

You can read Rebecca Makkai’s Substack post that inspired this show here

Here is the story that is discussed in the final segment, “How I Became a Vet” by Rivka Galchen

As part of this show we asked each of our guests to recommend a short story, a collection, or an author. Here are those recommendations:

  • Rebecca Makkai: “The Dinner Party” by Joshua Ferris
  • George Saunders: “The Stone Boy” by Gina Berriault, “The Conventional Wisdom” by Stanley Elkin
  • Deborah Treisman: Liberation Day by George Saunders, After the Funeral by Tessa Hadley, “The Haunting of Hajji Hotak” by Jamil Jan Kochai
  • Amy Bloom: “The Dead” by James Joyce, stories by Edward P. Jones, essays by Samantha Irby
  • Irene Papoulis: “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere” by ZZ Packer
  • Brian Slattery: “Hell is the Absence of God” by Ted Chiang
  • Colin McEnroe: “The Hole on the Corner” and “What’s the Name of That Town?” by R.A. Lafferty


  • Rebecca Makkai: Author of the Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-finalist The Great Believers, among other books; her newest book is I Have Some Questions For You, and she is artistic director of StoryStudio Chicago
  • George Saunders: Author of twelve books; his most recent is Liberation Day, a collection of short stories
  • Deborah Triesman: Fiction editor for The New Yorker and the host of their Fiction Podcast
  • Amy Bloom: Author of four novels and three collections of short stories; her most recent book is the memoir In Love
  • Irene Papouli: Teaches writing at Trinity College
  • Brian Slattery: Arts editor for the New Haven Independent

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Colin McEnroe and Cat Pastor contributed to this show.

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Lily is the senior producer for The Colin McEnroe Show. She first worked at Connecticut Public as an intern in 2014. She has previously worked for WBUR, KUNC and as a producer for the New England News Collaborative's weekly show Next. Lily can be reached at ltyson@ctpublic.org.