If you look over at my reading list on the sidebar, you'll notice that I don't read a lot of adult fiction. It's not that I don't enjoy it, or find it richly rewarding--I do--but I have so much children's and YA literature to catch up on that I often don't find the time. Lately, though, I've discovered something I do have time for: short story podcasts. Have you discovered these? My favorite is the New Yorker fiction podcast: once a month, a writer who has recently published in the magazine selects a story from the archive, reads it aloud, and then discusses it with the fiction editor, Deborah Treisman. This month, for example, you can hear Louise Erdrich read the Lorrie Moore story, "Dance in America." I've got several months' worth archived on my iPod now, and I listen to them in the car when I've got it to myself. Yesterday as I was driving to pick Mark up from work I heard Donald Antrim read Donald Barthelme's "I Bought a Little City," and I found myself laughing out loud at the absurd little story. I need to go read it now, and see how much of my response was due to Antrim's terrifically dry reading, and how much the story itself. But all of the stories I've heard so far really lend themselves to reading out loud, and I've really enjoyed hearing them come alive in this way.
It's a lot of fun to hear writers read and talk about other writers--their discussions of the stories afterwards are almost as interesting as the stories themselves, as when Deborah Treisman told Antonya Nelson some of the background to the Mavis Gallant story, "When We Were Nearly Young." Sometimes the contemporary writers dig pretty deep into the archives; recently I heard Jonathan Lethem read James Thurber's "The Wood Duck," and before that I heard E. L. Doctorow read John O'Hara's "Graven Image." And sometimes the pairings are as intriguing as the stories--what made Jhumpa Lahiri choose William Trevor's short story, "A Day"? Right now I'm listening to Junot Diaz reading his own story, “How to Date a Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie),” which Edwidge Danticat chose, and I'm looking forward to my drive home to get a little further into it.
You can subscribe to the New Yorker fiction podcast over iTunes or XML, or just listen online.