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Selected Shorts: American Classics (Selected…

Selected Shorts: American Classics (Selected Shorts: A Celebration of the… (2010)

by Symphony Space

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This audio collection pairs short stories by well-regarded American authors with (mostly) well-known actors. Most of the stories are written in first person, giving the presentations the feel of a dramatic monologue. My favorite stories in the collection are “Rules of the Game” by Amy Tan and “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker. The best performance is René Auberjonois' delivery of Edgar Allan Poe's “The Black Cat”. Stockard Channing's performance of Eudora Welty's “Why I Live at the P.O.” is nearly as good. “Where Have You Been, Where Are You Going?” by Joyce Carol Oates is the only story that fell flat. It's also one of just two stories written in the third person, so perhaps that has something to do with it.

The complete contents:
“Rules of the Game” by Amy Tan, performed by Freda Foh Shen
“Game” by Donald Barthelme, performed by David Strathairn
“Why I Live at the P.O." by Eudora Welty, performed by Stockard Channing
“The Black Cat” by Edgar Allan Poe, performed by René Auberjonois
“Where Have You Been, Where Are You Going?” by Joyce Carol Oates, performed by Christine Baranski
“At the Anarchist's Convention” by John Sayles, performed by Jerry Stiller
“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker, performed by Carmen De Lavallade
“Christmas Is a Sad Season for the Poor” by John Cheever, performed by Malachy McCourt

Recommended for short story and American lit fans. ( )
  cbl_tn | Oct 23, 2015 |
“Selected Shorts: American Classics” is a terrific collection of audio stories, and ranks as one of my most enjoyable audiobooks of all time. It contains eight wonderfully entertaining tales, each of which was performed (not just “read”) onstage before a live audience. Authors of the stories range from classic writers (Eudora Welty, Edgar Allen Poe) to contemporary authors (Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Walker, Amy Tan), and the narrators include highly talented performers and professional actors. The stories were recorded live at the Peter Norton Symphony Space in New York City and on tour around the U.S. The listener shares in the delight of the audience at the performance of each of these stories.

The narrated stories range from downright hilarious to poignant to chilling to frightening. One of my favorites is David Strathairn’s stellar performance of Donald Barthelmo’s “Game” – a hilariously horrifying story of two US army soldiers trapped together for months in an underground missile bunker, apparently forgotten by their superiors. Another favorite is John Cheever’s “Christmas is a Sad Season for the Poor” (performed by Malachy McCourt), a humorous tale of a high-rise elevator operator who is overcome by his riders’ holiday generosity with gifts of alcohol. Another is Eudora Welty’s immensely comical “Why I Live at the PO” -- performed to perfection by US actress Stockard Channing. Joyce Carol Oates’ "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" is a creepily fascinating tale of a teenage girl’s seduction by a drifter. Still another stand- out contribution is Jerry Stiller’s performance of John Sales’ “At the Anarchist’s Convention”.

I highly recommend this audio collection; it was a delight to listen to. What’s more, I intend to seek out other short story collections of the Symphony Space series.

The eight stories in “American Classics”, their authors, and performers are as follows: “Rules of the Game” (by Amy Tan) – performed by Freda Foh Shen; “Game” (by Donald Barthelmo) – performed by David Strathairn; “Why I Live at the PO” (by Eudora Welty) -- performed by Stockard Channing; “The Black Cat” (by Edgar Allen Poe) -- performed by René Auberjonois; “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” (Joyce Carol Oates) – performed by Christine Baranski; “At the Anarchist’s Convention” (John Sayles) – performed by Jerry Stiller; “Everyday Use” (Alice Walker) -- performed by Carmen de Lavallade; and “Christmas is a Sad Season for the Poor” (John Cheever) – performed by Malachy McCourt. ( )
4 vote danielx | Nov 30, 2011 |
A wonderful collection of short-stories performed by professional actors in front of a live audience. From the NPR series Selected Shorts. My favorite stories in bold.

1. Amy Tan's "Rules of the Game" performed by Freda Foh Shen
A strict Chinese mother bedevils her chess prodigy daughter.

2. Donald Barthelme's "Game" performed by David Strathairn
Playing cosmic chicken in a nuclear bunker.

3. Eudora Welty's "Why I Live at the P.O." performed by Stockard Channing
Story of an independent young woman striking out on her own.

4. Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat" performed by René Auberjonois
Poe’s masterpiece told with new passion.

5. Joyce Carol Oates' "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" performed by Christine Baranski
Creepy tale of a teenage girl’s seduction by a dangerous drifter, like "A Good Man is Hard to Find".

6. John Sayles' "At the Anarchists’ Convention" performed by Jerry Stiller
Comedy classic of a geriatric Jewish Anarchist convention.

7. Alice Walker's "Everyday Use" performed by Carmen de Lavallade
Siblings disagree about a precious piece of their family heritage.

8. John Cheever's "Christmas is a Sad Season for the Poor" performed by Malachy McCourt
A high-rise elevator operator discovers holiday generosity. ( )
  Stbalbach | Oct 29, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 193403312X, Audio CD)

A compilation of classic tales by great American writers performed by terrific actors, with a lineup ranging from Eudora Welty’s hilarious story of an independent young woman striking out on her own, "Why I Live at the P.O." read to wacky perfection by Stockard Channing to Joyce Carol Oates’ sly, creepy tale of a teenage girl’s seduction by a dangerous drifter, "Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?," read poignantly by Christine Baranski to Edgar Allen Poe’s terrifyingly delicious "The Black Cat," read by René Auberjonois. Other featured stories include Alice Walker’s "Everyday Use" read by Carmen de Lavallade, John Cheever’s "Christmas is a Sad Season for the Poor" performed by Malachy McCourt, Amy Tan’s "Rules of the Game" read by Freda Foh Shen and Jerry Stiller reading John Sayles laugh-out-loud classic "At the Anarchists’ Convention" by John Sayles.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:53 -0400)

A collection of eight short stories by well-known American authors.

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