Selected Shorts: Flying, Horses & Glockenspiels

Two years ago I went to Germany for the first time to promote the publication of Die Linke Hand (The Left Hand)–a German edition of The Good Thief. In Munich, I saw this giant glockenspiel–an amazing animated clock that played out scenes from Bavarian history, including a joust and a dance called the Schäfflerstanz (to celebrate the end of the plague)–all with life-sized animated figures. It’s the first thing that sprang to mind when I first read “I Am Not a Jew” by John Biguenet, performed by Denis O’Hare (True Blood) this week on Selected Shorts. There is a haunting image in the story of a mechanical woodsman in a bell tower, striking each hour with his axe, just as the narrator decides that he is not to blame for his own cowardly actions. From Germany we then move to Ireland, where Colum McCann’s heartbreaking father/daughter story, “Everything in This Country Must” is performed by Amy Ryan (The Office). It starts right in the middle of the action as the narrator and her father try to save a drowning horse. The language is magical, but what impressed me most is how Colum McCann handles the family’s tragic past—a light touch throughout the story, leaving small impressions that build to a giant emotional charge at the end. Finally, we’ll hear another piece on parenting: “Flying” by One Story author Stephen Dixon, read by Thomas Gibson (Criminal Minds)–where a father literally shows his daughter how to spread her wings. For your local time/station, go here. For a free podcast of last week’s episode, go here.