Episodes
Guest host Tayari Jones helps us to celebrate this American master, who died in 2019.  Her novels, including Beloved, Jazz and Song of Solomon, have become an indelible part of the American canon.  Her fierce, poetic visions earned her the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  She was also an editor, advocate, teacher, and mother.  This program features her essay “A Knowing So Deep,” read by Jones; an excerpt from The Bluest Eye, read by Anika Noni Rose; an...
Published 07/02/20
Mona Simpson is the author of six books including Anywhere But Here, My Hollywood and Casebook. Her Too Hot For Radio story features a therapist, a patient, and one uniquely inappropriate relationship.This story was originally published in Harper’s and selected by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All The Light You Cannot See, Anthony Doerr, for The Best American Short Stories 2019 for which he served as the guest editor. Read by the incomparable Cynthia Nixon, the story can be described...
Published 06/29/20
Guest host Denis O’Hare helps us mark the landmark event that helped give birth to the modern movement for LGBTQIA+ rights in America.  We first hear eyewitness accounts of the riots, drawn from The Stonewall Reader.  Additional works include Perry Brass’s “We Did It”; poems by  Kay Ulanday Barrett; and Gary Eldon Peter’s story “Wedding.”  Readers include Ivory Aquino, Kate Bornstein, Michael Early, Beth Malone, Kay Ulanday Barrett, and John Benjamin Hickey.
Published 06/25/20
Guest host Hope Davis presents two stories in which things get out of hand.  Rumors and recriminations fly in “Belles Lettres,” by Nafissa Thompson-Spires, as rival mothers defend their daughters’ reputations at a posh school--at any cost.  The readers are Eboni Booth, Shalewa Sharpe, and Mary Karr.   And we hear Shirley Jackson’s lighter side in  “About Two Nice People,” in which neighbors seem to be getting mixed messages from one another.  The readers are  Lilli Cooper, Ethan Slater, and...
Published 06/18/20
Guest host Dennis O’Hare presents two unorthodox love stories at a time when we could all use a little love.   British writer Jane Gardam twists Hans Christian Andersen’s tale in a saucy reboot of “The Little Mermaid.”  Her version, “The Pangs of Love,” is read by Jane Kaczmarek.  And Sharon Gless performs “Hat Trick,” by Edith Pearlman, in which four young girls choose husbands by chance.
Published 06/11/20
Guest host Andy Borowitz intros four hilarious pieces featured in his anthology The 50 Funniest American Writers.  James Naughton reads S.J. Perelman’s noir parody “Farewell, My Lovely Appetizer;” Susan Orlean complains about idle tots in “Shiftless Little Loafers,” read by Dave Hill; old-time radio is revealed in Jean Shepherd’s “The Counterfeit Secret Circle Member Gets the Message,” read by Isaiah Sheffer; and one woman’s all-nighter, in Jenny Allen’s “Awake,” read by Jane Kaczmarek.
Published 06/04/20
Our friend Michael Ian Black is back to host a twofer Too Hot For Radio episode. First up is actor K. Todd Freeman reading“Pregnant with Peanut Butter” by Michael Czyniejewski. Czyniejewski is the author of three story collections, including Our Bedroom and I Will Love You for the Rest of My Life: Breakup Stories. Performing this story is an actor known for everything from multiple appearances on Broadway to Buffy the Vampire SlayertoA Series of Unfortunate Events.  Elizabeth Crane is the...
Published 05/31/20
Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents three stories with surprising twists and turns, a reminder that surprises can still be entertaining, even though the world has changed in unpredictable ways.  A wife finds something unexpected in her local thrift shop in “Second Hand,” by Andres Neuman.  The story is performed by Kaczmarek.  Dawn Powell’s “Dinner on the Rocks” is an elegant comedy of bad manners, performed by Christina Pickles.  And the salesman in Hubert Selby Jr.’s “Fortune Cookie” thinks...
Published 05/28/20
Guest host Maulik Pancholy presents stories, essays, and poems, and speeches celebrating America’s diversity and wealth of stories, at a time when we need to know we are together, even when we are apart.  An aging father ponders his life in Elizabeth Strout’s “The Walk,” read by Ellen Burstyn.  The whole country’s talking in Susan Minot’s “Listen,” read by Jennifer Ikeda and Khris Lewin.  Julia Alvarez faces prejudice and finds her voice in “Speak! Speak!” read by Selenis Leyva, and Henry...
Published 05/21/20
Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents two stories based on fairy tales.  We need good stories more than ever now.  Traditional fairy tales always have a lesson, and these new versions are guaranteed to offer up some pearls about staying strong in difficult times.  First, a story about an unconventional princess.  Jane Kaczmarek performs Jeanne Desy’s “The Princess Who Stood On Her Own 2 Feet.” And Brazilian feminist writer Clarice Lispector shares a wealthy woman’s moment of truth in “Beauty...
Published 05/14/20
In this time of sheltering, we think one of the things that’s magical about short stories is that they bring the world to you.  On this program, guest host Michael Cerveris presents two stories about the difference between what other people observe about us, and who we actually are.  Even though we’re all mostly “home alone” right now, these pieces remind us that when we are out in the world, our inner and outer selves can be very different.  Cerveris reads “Riding the Doghouse,” a great...
Published 05/07/20
Published 04/30/20
Goodness knows we could all use a laugh right now.  So this week we’re offering a Selected Shorts program full of funny stories selected by Andy Borowitz, who’s funny in so many ways. The late columnist Molly Ivins sticks it to pompous politicians in “Tough as Bob War and Other Stuff,” performed by Judith Ivey.  Essayist Sloane Crosley reveals a shameful habit in “The Pony Problem,” performed by Kirsten Vangsness.  Parker Posey delivers a classic Dorothy Parker rant (two Parkers, no waiting)...
Published 04/30/20
We're rebroadcasting one of our earlier episodes in honor of the long-awaited publication of The Mirror & the Light, author Hilary Mantel's final chapter of the trilogy she began with her peerless, Booker Prize-winning novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. We found this story in her often wicked short story collection The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher.  “The Long QT” features a standard, modern-day dilemma that delivers an entirely unexpected sort of fright at the end. Host...
Published 04/27/20
In honor of the human impulse to seek culinary comfort when times are tough, guest host Robert Sean Leonard presents two food-centered stories curated with the online food and cooking community Food52. In J. Robert Lennon’s “Breadman,” artisanal bread threatens a marriage. Kyle MacLachlan is the incredulous spouse.  And Joan Allen performs an excerpt from Nora Ephron’s novel Heartburn, a slice of infidelity in which there are consequences—and pie.  
Published 04/23/20
The stories on this program, hosted by Jane Kaczmarek, start out in one place and end up somewhere completely different.  Which pretty much describes our world at the moment.    The three authors also talk about how people connect—something that seems important right now.  Colin Nissan’s “Wedding Announcement” escalates comically in the reading by John Cameron Mitchell.  A wary housewife is surprised by beauty in Michel Faber’s “The Eyes of the Soul,’ performed by Kirsten Vangsness, and...
Published 04/16/20
Guest host Jane Curtin presents three quirky stories in which a drop or two is taken: Michael Gerber's and Jonathan Schwarz's "What We Talk About When We Talk About Doughnuts" is a riff on a famous Raymond Carver tale; it's performed by Joey Slotnick.  Early New Yorker humorist Corey Ford tells us just what can go wrong at "The Office Party," performed by Jordan Klepper. And wry tale of boozy suburbia, "The Sorrows of Gin," is performed by Kathleen Chalfant.
Published 04/09/20
Guest host Jane Kaczmarek presents April Fools’ tales guaranteed to transport listeners away from the madness. In these three stories, characters search for ways to escape their everyday: An office romance stings in Ryan Boudinot’s “Bee Beard,” read by Tony Hale.  A man finds an ingenious way to slip out of his own life in Susan Sontag’s “The Dummy,” read by Justin Kirk. And Miranda July imagines a senior citizens’ “Swim Team,” in a story read by Parker Posey. Unexpected, funny and a little...
Published 04/02/20
On this episode of Too Hot, we're rereleasing Joe Meno's story, "Everything Strange and Unknown," because, well, right now everything is strange and unknown. What better time to lose yourself in a great story. Hopefully, listening to Michael Ian Black read this lovely, poignant, and humorous piece, you gain some time to escape.
Published 03/30/20
Guest host Michael Cerveris presents stories that celebrate the distinguished O.Henry Awards.  Three prize-winning stories are featured: In “Midrash on Happiness,” by Grace Paley, a woman wants it all.  The reader is Mia Dillon. And a woman who’s lost it all must get an exit visa in “The American Embassy,” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, read by Karen Pittman.  A son is puzzled by his father’s strange habit in Jerome Weidman’s “My Father Sits in the Dark,” read by Josh Hamilton.  
Published 03/26/20
As the rollup to the Presidential elections continues, we offer two stories about big shots, presented by guest host Jane Curtin.  First, classic humorist James Thurber imagines what happens when an aviation hero has feet of clay.  “The Greatest Man in the World” is read by Michael Ian Black.  And former President Bill Clinton makes a cameo appearance in Meera Nair’s warmly funny tale of a village in Bangladesh about to be rescued from “centuries of obscurity.”  “A Warm Welcome to the...
Published 03/19/20
Guest host LeVar Burton presents three stories in which fantasies and memories are both near and far.  In “The Elevator Dancer,” by N.K. Jemisin, a guard is obsessed by a woman who spins when no one is looking.  Laura Gomez is the reader.  A woman remembers a transforming moment in her Depression-era childhood in “Marigolds,” by Eugenia W. Collier.  The story is performed by Sharon Washington. Ursula K. Le Guin moves and surprises us in “The Wife’s Story,” performed by Joanna Gleason.
Published 03/12/20
Guest host Denis O’Hare presents three stories that take things to extremes.  In Simon Rich’s “Distractions,” we learn about a global conspiracy.  Errin Hayes reads.  The misanthrope in Douglas Lawson’s “Love in a Kitchen Garden” is cruel to his garden gnomes.  Richard Kind reads.  And Maulik Pancholy performs Emily Buckler’s “Brand Values,” a reality-bending tale about high-end leather.
Published 03/05/20
Guest host Cynthia Nixon presents stories by two masters of the form who share an outré sensibility.  Humor, humanity, and fantasy all combine in four tales of things gone wrong.    In “Fly Already” by Etgar Keret, performed by Liev Schreiber, a widower and his small son watch a drama unfold. In “Where Are You?” by Joyce Carol Oates, performed by Dianna Agron, a demanding husband pushes his wife to the limit. In “One Gram Short” by Etgar Keret, performed by Ira Glass, a stoner makes a really...
Published 02/27/20
From the New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Ruins, our story today comes from the first collection of short fiction from Jess Walter. We Live In Water is a suite of diverse and searching stories about personal struggle and diminished dreams, all of them marked by the wry wit, keen eye, and generosity of spirit that has made him a bookseller and reader favorite, including Barack Obama who called “We Live in Water: Stories” one of his favorite books of 2019.  A former National Book...
Published 02/24/20