Rarely do we devote one show to just one writer, but on this Selected Shorts, we turn the show over to universally beloved author George Saunders. Saunders somehow finds the good, or at any rate the imperfectly human, in his characters. The result is a catalog as funny as it is moving, as devastating as it is hopeful. On this program, two stories that perfectly illustrate this. “Love Letter” is from Saunders’ latest collection Liberation Day. In it, an anxious grandfather who is ambivalent about the state of the world counsels an older grandchild. “Love Letter” is read by Stephen Colbert. And a favorite from our archives, “The Falls,” shows us two flawed men given a chance to do the right thing. René Auberjonois reads. The show also includes a conversation between host Meg Wolitzer and Saunders.
For more of Meg's conversation with George Saunders, listen to our bonus podcast of their full discussion HERE.
René Auberjonois (1940 - 2019) won a Tony Award for his role in the musical Coco and was nominated for City of Angels, Big River, and The Good Doctor. His film and television credits included M.A.S.H., The Patriot, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, The Player, Certain Women, Blood Stripe, The Circuit, Benson, The Good Wife, Masters of Sex, Criminal Minds, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Madam Secretary, The Circuit, Windows on the World, Raising Buchanan, First Cow and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Auberjonois was a founding member of the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and a longtime Selected Shorts reader.
Stephen Colbert currently hosts the Emmy and Peabody Award–winning, #1 show in late night, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He previously hosted The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, following his work as a correspondent on The Daily Show. The Report received two Peabody Awards, two Grammy Awards, and five Emmy Awards. Colbert also serves as Executive Producer on the Comedy Central series Stephen Colbert Presents Tooning Out the News and Hell of a Week with Charlamagne tha God, and previously, Showtime’s Our Cartoon President and Derek DelGaudio's In & Of Itself on Hulu. Colbert has also authored five books, the most recent of which, Whose Boat Is This Boat?, reached #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. All proceeds from the book benefited the victims of Hurricane Florence and Michael, and most recently, COVID-19 relief.
George Saunders is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of eleven books, including A Swim in a Pond in the Rain; Lincoln in the Bardo, which won the Booker Prize; Congratulations, by the Way; Tenth of December, a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the inaugural Folio Award; The Braindead Megaphone; and the critically acclaimed collections CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, Pastoralia, and In Persuasion Nation. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University. Saunders’ latest collection, Liberation Day, was published in October 2022.
Meg Wolitzer is the New York Times bestselling author of The Female Persuasion, The Interestings, The Ten-Year Nap, and The Wife, which was adapted to film in 2018, starring Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce. She was the guest editor of The Best American Short Stories 2017, and has also published books for young readers, mostly recently a picture book, Millions of Maxes. Wolitzer is a faculty member in the MFA program at Stony Brook Southampton, where she co-founded and co-directs BookEnds, a one-year, non-credit intensive in the novel.
“Love Letter” by George Saunders. First published in Liberation Day: Stories, Random House, 2022. Copyright © 2022 by George Saunders. Used by permission of ICM Partners.
“The Falls” by George Saunders. First published in The New Yorker. Copyright © 1996 by George Saunders. Used by permission of ICM Partners.