Selected Shorts: Apartment Living

I once shared an apartment so small I could touch both walls of my bedroom when I stretched out my arms. Our bathroom was so tiny there was no sink. We washed our hands and faces in the kitchen. At the breakfast table, we could open the fridge and pull down the cereal, without getting up from our chairs. It was like living in an elevator, and after a year, my roommate and I realized that we were both having the same dream. In this dream, we would discover a door that opened up to a whole new section of the apartment–spacious, unending rooms full of windows and air and light. But in the morning, when we placed our hands where the door had been, all we could feel was the rumble of our neighbor’s stereo and the cooing of the pigeons that roosted in the walls. Since then, I’ve heard of other New Yorkers having similar fantasies of expanding apartments, and it came to mind as I listened to David Rakoff performing “Quadraturin” by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky this week on Selected Shorts, where an 86 square foot room grows and grows, until it becomes so vast the owner gets lost.  Following in the theme of tightly packed spaces is “A Woman at the Window,” by James Lasdun, read by Leenya Rideout, where a New York City woman, leaning out her window like Rapunzel, tries to recapture a moment of rescue from her tenement apartment. Finally, we end with “Flight” by Deborah Joy Corey, also read by Leenya Rideout, where a neighbor decides to get a bit too neighborly. You can listen in on your local public radio station, or download this episode on podcast. And be grateful, next time you brush your teeth, that you are doing it in a bathroom, and not over a sink of unwashed dishes.


  1. “I once shared an apartment so small I could touch both walls of my bedroom when I stretched out my arms.”

    That reminds me of a girlfriend’s flat from long ago. It was round the corner from Baker Street and the London Planetarium. I used to reflect that both imaginative and cosmic space (the world of Sherlock Holmes, and the stars) were only a step away from her door.

    Marie Marshall

Comments are closed.