Looking for a good story? Try listening to one! (photo courtesy Microsoft Office)
Maroon’s picks for four fabulous literary sound bytes:
1. The Moth Podcast
A new spin on lunch-table story-telling, the Moth podcast features storytellers–some professionals, others walk-ons–telling true stories live and without notes. Each week, the collection (which is also streamed on National Public Radio (NPR) and other radio stations) is updated with a new recorded performance. These ten-minute tales are humorous but also poignant, reflective, and socially and historically relevant. From a former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton to Steve from Blue’s Clues, the characters who step up to the Moth’s microphones are always engaging, making this podcast a must-listen.
2. PRI: Selected Shorts Podcast
The award-winning series Selected Shorts, hosted by Isaiah Sheffer, consists of weekly fiction readings at New York’s Symphony Space; the live performances are recorded and then both streamed on NPR and added to iTunes. Each episode lasts roughly one hour but usually includes two readings, allowing for interrupted listening. With readers including Alec Baldwin and Steven Colbert and works including those by Jhumpa Lahiri and T.C. Boyle, each weekly podcast offers up new stories that will be sure to impress in both their content and presentation. This podcast very well may induce a range of emotions, so keep tissues nearby for heart-wrenching, heartwarming, and hysterically witty moments.
3. The New Yorker: Fiction
This fiction podcast features a fairly standard formatting formula; for each episode, a current fiction writer for The New Yorker selects a piece from the magazine’s fiction archive to read. With both an introduction to the piece by the reader and a follow-up discussion between the reader and The New Yorker’s fiction editor Deborah Treisman. The collection is updated monthly, but with longer, often complex stories (they are nearly all over half an hour) listeners are encouraged to spend more time thinking about the pieces’ plots and themes more so than with a lighter collection of stories.
4. Slate Poetry Podcast
This literary podcast features episodes in which an author reads his or her poetry. Although lacking commentary, these short pieces allow even the busiest of listeners to enjoy a meaningful literary experience (on average, each poem is performed in about one minute). A refreshing and insightful shift away from on-paper poetry, hearing the authors read their work connects readers to the poem and its performer through pacing, tone, and emphasis. New poems are added to the collection on a regular basis, and current poems include a great deal of form–from villanelles to free-form–and content.