Sunday Salon: Short stories

The Sunday Salon

I know, I know, it’s been months since I posted in the Sunday Salon. How are you all? What have you been up to? Me? I’ve been busy, but not with as much reading as I’d like. This week I have been thinking about short stories.

Every so often Tim has to go to America for work, usually at the last minute. One of the few advantages of this (besides getting complete control of the TV while he’s away) is that he brings me back the New Yorker, which I really love but can’t quite justify paying the international subscription price when what I’m really after is the weekly short story. They get the greatest writers in the world. Every week.

New Yorker

On the back of my recent treat of not one but two New Yorkers, I was browsing the website and spotted the fiction podcast. Oh man, this is the most amazing discovery. Once a month a writer picks a short story from the New Yorker archives, reads it aloud and discusses it a little. It’s an amazing resource. This week I have listened to “Symbols and signs” by Vladimir Nabokov, “The lottery” by Shirley Jackson and “Playing with dynamite” by John Updike.

I am not normally great at listening to audio books but a 20-minute story fits nicely into my commute and it’s a really good way to try some of the many authors I have heard praised but not read myself yet.

Do you read short stories outside of book compilations of them? Where do you read them? Do you subscribe to any fiction magazines?


So life continues to be hectic. It feels like I’m completing a series of to-do lists (or not completing them) and I have to remind myself that I’m doing things I chose to do, I’m exactly where I put myself. But I still need the occasional breather.

And generally reading is my breathing time, my “me time”. But I can’t always read, either because I’m walking somewhere or I’m too tired or I have to prioritise doing some exercise to maintain the gradual improvement to my health that is my major goal this year. So the other thing I have been filling my brain with is podcasts.

What a great invention! Seriously, being able to pick and choose the best radio shows from all the channels and listen to them when it suits you? Genius! I use the humorously named MyPod app on my Android phone to manage them but there are no doubt other ways. I can listen on the walk to and from work, at the gym, in the kitchen while making dinner, in my library while sorting books into alphabetical order (yes, dull I know but I have a lot of books and I like to be able to find the right one).

I do feel that I’m not making the most of this wonderful new world, though. I have five podcasts that I follow – The Naked Scientists, Radio 4 Open Book, Excess Baggage (another Radio 4 one, discovered thanks to Liz of Eliza Does Very Little), Wittertainment (Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s 5 Live show) and the Guardian Books Podcast – plus I will of course eagerly download the Adam and Joe show when it finally starts back up. But what am I missing? Any and all recommendations gratefully received!