Since its inception in 1925, The New Yorker has published some of America’s best short fiction. That legacy continues today despite trends to the contrary. Many of the magazines once featuring short stories have ceased to exist, such as Collier’s and Story. Others like Esquire have lessened their commitment to the form, cutting back in fiction print pages while shifting that emphasis to their web sites. Meanwhile, the New Yorker continues to place contemporary stories in its issues–and amazingly, as the fates of other periodicals might suggest–the magazine has not suffered.
The New Yorker has even deepened its commitment to the form by reaching back into its history while embracing modern technology. Through I-tunes and newyorker.com, the magazine offers a series of podcasts featuring some of today’s best writers reading their favorite stories from the magazine’s vast catalog of published fiction. It is a deep and wide-ranging collection of homage. One can find Jonathan Lethem reading James Thurber’s “The Wood Duck” and Richard Ford choosing John Cheever’s “Reunion.” The Hangover highly recommends TC Boyle’s interpretation of Tobias Wolff’s “Bullet in the Brain.” (Boyle’s “Greasy Lake” and Wolff’s “Bullet in the Brain” are two of The Hangover’s favorite short stories.) All are considered classics.
In addition to the story itself, New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman hosts a discussion of the piece with the selecting author. The views expressed are always enlightening, as the selector speaks as a fan as well as a fellow writer. Consistent with The Hangover’s “short stories, long payoff” philosophy, the podcasts usually run less than 20 minutes.