Short Story Masterclass Series

I’ve been on a bit of a RMSYL hiatus in the last few months, but new episodes to come soon.

Until then, if you’re missing listening to people reading you things they like -even if in this case the things happen to be their own writing- here are some interviews I did for Thresholds talking to a variety of interesting writers about their short story output .

Interview with Sarah Hall for Thresholds/Small Wonder
Interview with Margaret Drabble for Thresholds/Small Wonder
Interview with Joseph O’Connell for Thresholds/Small Wonder
Interview with with Michèle Roberts for Thresholds/Small Wonder
Interview with David Vann for Thresholds/Small Wonder
Interview with Deborah Levy for Thresholds/Small Wonder

RMSYL 24: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (read by David Shields)

“We’re all bozos on this bus. We’re all lost, we’re all confused, we’re all presenting a civilized veneer. But in our own hearts, we’re all kind of madmen in various ways. ”  David Shields


David Shields is the author of fourteen books, including How Literature Saved My Life and  Salinger (with Shane Salerno), both published this year. Also, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (Knopf, 2010), named one of the best books of the year by more than thirty publications and kick-starter for our Reality Hunger Reading Creative Nonfiction Reading Group.

DISCUSSED: Building A Bridge Across The Existential Abyss of Loneliness; Let’s Not Get Past The Contrivance; Compression, Concision & Velocity; Enough With The Furniture Moving Already; Warp Speed Culture; Gun To The Head Prose; Vonnegut’s Jaunty Tone; The Trapdoors to Howling Despair; Clear Thinking About Mixed Feelings; Loyal To The Moment Texts; Putting Your Intimate Cards On The Table; Stuttering as an Existential Gift; The Mirror Turn Lamp

David’s website:
Read the first chapter of Slaughterhouse-Five:

RMSYL 23: Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan (read by Vera Chok)

“There’s so much naughtiness and pleasure in overturning the ridiculousness of taking ourselves so seriously.”  Vera Chok                                                 

Vera Chok is a stage and screen actress from Malaysia who is based in the UK. Vera trained at The Poor School and Ecole Philippe Gaulier and has appeared in productions such as Mansfield Park & Ride (2010), Uncle Vanya (2010), The Firework-maker’s Daughter (2011), and Chimerica (2013).

DISCUSSED: What Does Richard Brautigan Taste Like?; Exciting Familiarity Versus Unfamiliar Excitement; Trout-Based 60s Cornerstones; Marston Bates (File Under: Captain Pugwash?); Finding a Rationale for Culture; Serious Questions or “Serious Questions” (i.e. Silliness); Chok-Inspired Neolexia; Chasing the Mayonaise/Mayonnaise; The Upsetting Space of Beauty; Bygone Names; Ambivalent Mayonnaise; Caring Mayonnaise; Mayonnaise As The Ultimate Signifier.

The Brautigan Book Club:

RMSYL 22: The Folding Star by Alan Hollinghurst (read by Charles Adrian Gillot)

“I’m always very pleased when I start going out with somebody and I find they have a habit that annoys me, yet I I still like them. That’s a minor triumph for me, that’s romantic.”        Charles Adrian Gillot


Charles Adrian Gillot is an actor, writer and film-maker with interests spanning devised theatre, performance, improvisation, second-hand books, and podcasting. His wonderful Page One podcast gets guests to bring in books that they like as well as a book that they think he should have. Through discussion about these, they get to know each other a bit better. All accompanied by lashings of good music.  Here’s one we did together. 

DISCUSSED: The Carnal Discomforts of Sex in Tents, Being Cornered in Your Own Head, Filtering, Pretending To Be Sophisticated, The Delusion or Otherwise of Being in Love, Predatory Hugs vs. Comforting Ones.

Page One (podcast):

RMSYL 21: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (read by Colin Heinink)

“There’s all this action going on, this rumpusing, but the bit that sticks in the head, well for me at least, is the him-and-his-Mum aspect of it. And the food still being hot.”  Colin Heinink

Colin Heinink is a primary school teacher, as well as an actor for The Woodhouse Players. Also: a bit of singing, writing, oh and a “hospital radio shock jock”. All of this paling in comparison to his phenomenally talented dog Martin who blogs about culture under the auspices of The Dog What Blogs

DISCUSSED: Text-based Monsters versus iPad Monsters; Playing at Punishment; Self-Engendered Worlds; Trying On Adult Behaviours; Post-Rumpus Sadness; The Loneliness of Responsibility; Doing “The Trick” (AKA How To Become King of The Monsters); Going “Home” to Love; Like The Way You’re Sitting; Fighting Because You Care; The Heat of Anger/Love/Dinner

Colin’s website:
Sendak’s reading of WTWTA (with pics from the book):

RMSYL 20: Meditation XVII by John Donne (read by Rogan Wolf)

I sometimes wonder what it must have been like during The Depression trundling around with the Lomaxes, father and son, through Memphis and the deep South, making field recordings out of their car window of those bards of the barrelhouse and lumber camp. All the poets that the preeminent white culture had never heard of. And even if they had, didn’t much care for. John and Alan in the prisons, plantations and tin shacks, recording the likes of Bukka White, Robert Johnson, and Leadbelly. Surely they must have felt themselves pinch-me blessed by their good fortune on a regular basis? I feel this way too, no more so when able to record Rogan Wolf‘s poetry, which we’ve just begun to archive, Lomax-like, in his tiny, book-cluttered sitting room on Wilfred Owen Street[1]. Wolf is one of those Essential Poets you’ve never heard of. Maybe you’ve never heard of him because he’s spent most of his non-poet working life as a mental health social worker from which the charity Hyphen-21 and its incredible Poems For project have arisen. Or maybe you’ve just never heard of him because Culture with a capital C (or its latter day WWW-dot equivalent) is generally promulgated by those who shout or write the loudest, blog/tweet/FB the most ardently, or have the best literary agents. Talent helps, of course. Be that as it may, you’ve heard of him now.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. You can listen to Rogan’s rather incredible sequence of poems called The Going, from one of our recent recording sessions here.

RMSYL 19: Bones of the Inner Ear by Kiana Davenport (Read by Jarred McGinnis)

I love this photo of Jarred McGinnis reading Kiana Davenport‘s incredible ‘Bones of the Inner Ear’.

Firstly because it captures something of JM-himself Continue reading


RMSYL 18: Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas (read by Kit Spahr)

You might notice one or two differences about episode #32 of Read Me Something You Love.  Continue reading


RMSYL 17: The Spur of the Moment Stroll and Passers-by by Franz Kafka (read by Shaun Levin)

Happy birthday, Franz.

I’m not sure if it’s a birthday present you would have ever wanted, but did you know that you’re all set to be included in the update of the Bible of Psychological Pathologies (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-5)? Continue reading


RMSYL 16: Believe Me by Ali Smith (read by Tania Hershman)

 I love the fact that International Short Story Day, June 20th, is celebrated on a  solstice.That’s to say: the day the sun (sol) stands still (sistere).

Apart from the rather pleasing philological connection with short days/nights/stories, there might be other affinities too between a solstice and this literary form. Continue reading