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Summer of Shorts Episode 3: Beard and Skorts

This week’s short-story pick is actually an essay: Jo Ann Beard’s “Werner,” which appears in the 2007 edition of Best American Essays, edited by David Foster Wallace. Actually, much of our discussion concerns whether it’s fair to call this an “essay.” It’s based on real events, but pretty clearly takes fictional liberties, such as inhabiting the mind of its protagonist (not the author) in a move more frequently seen in short stories. The essay isn’t available for free online, but you can read another Jo Ann Beard piece, “The Fourth State of Matter,” on The New Yorker website.

Our shorts for the week are another genre-bender: skorts, against which Mike has a long-standing personal grudge. We explore that grudge in depth, as well as several of Tom’s childhood grudges. Talking about shorts, it turns out, tends to be a real walk down memory lane.


Talking points this week include: genre distinctions, recess, bird poop, disappointing limo rides, condiments, lisps, Pee Wee football, magazine sales, enviable prose, and burning buildings.

As always, you can stream the episode here, on our site, or download the mp3 file. You can also find us in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free!) and never miss another episode. We welcome your feedback on what we talked about this week. You can email us, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on this post.

Thanks for listening!


Download Summer of Shorts: Beard and Skorts (right-click, save-as)


Summer of Shorts Episode 1: Braverman and Bermudas

We’re putting our usual Writers Ask episodes on hold to kick off a special summer series, during which we’ll be talking about short stories and also short pants. For our inaugural Summer of Shorts episode, we read Kate Braverman’s “Tall Tales From the Mekong Delta” (a Tom pick), which has been pretty widely anthologized. You can read it for free here, on Kate Braverman’s website.


We also talk about bermuda shorts (a Mike pick), the standard-bearer of summer shortsdom. Should men bare their legs in the summer and, if so, where and when? How long should men’s shorts be? What kinds of shoes should you wear with shorts? And why are they called bermuda shorts in the first place?

Here’s a link to the Jezebel post Mike mentioned during the episode, which argues that men’s shorts should get shorter. And here’s Too Short’s 1990 hit song “The Ghetto.”

Tom also talks this week about the several-year period during which he stopped wearing shorts entirely. And how his girlfriend (now his wife) brought him back into the shorts-wearing fold. Here’s a picture of beloved actor and comedian Martin Short.


As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file. Or visit us in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free) and never miss another episode. You can also find us on Stitcher Radio, or with whatever podcast app you like (Downcast, Instacast, etc.). Thanks for listening! If you like the show, tell your friends. If you’ve got feedback for us, you can send us an email, or hit us up on Twitter. Or just leave a note here in the comments.

We’ll be back next week with another regular book episode, followed by another Summer of Shorts installment in two weeks. So come on back!


Download Summer of Shorts Episode 1 (right-click, save-as)