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comedy (36)

The Ideal Reasoner

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

S. D. Jones' short story "The Ideal Reasoner" gives a comic and touching twist to relationship trouble, as a Shelockian AI creates upheaval in a marriage--only to bring about a surprising resolution. [...] more

Feeding Champion

Monday, December 31, 2018

When a robber encounters a hungry Golden Retriever while breaking into a house, the encounter evokes a poignant monologue about how to treat a dog and how not to stock a refrigerator. And Andrea Johnston's "Feeding Champion" is about much more than that. It's about the responsibilities we have towards each other, and about how we do what's right even when promises change. [...] more


Friday, December 14, 2018

In 1970, the narrator and his several brothers drive off in a Duster to defend their mother's honor. The fact that most of them are high plays some role in the confusion that ensues. Alec Solomita's "Squirrel" is a tale of sibling allegiances and misunderstandings, told with tenderness and wit. [...] more

Horny For Construction

Friday, December 7, 2018

Two men work to remove a heavy cast-iron tub from a bathroom. They are both middle-aged; one is a teacher, a writer. In Guy Thorvaldsen's essay "Horny For Construction," working with your hands is full of lessons--about rewards and process, but also about what Thorvaldsen calls "small disagreements with the universe". [...] more

But That's Not The Way It Feels

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Wednesday Fiasco is how Eva Dunsky refers to the sudden end of an adolescent relationship. "But That's Not The Way It Feels" is a wry account of a break-up, tinged with the melancholy wisdom of Jim Croce and youthful perspective. [...] more


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

A swamp is home to an imagined panther named "Fen" in Kate Lassell's eponymous story. Narrated by a precocious kid named Judith, the story follows a father and daughter fighting to preserve a threatened marsh--and working to sustain their small family after a tragic loss. [...] more


Thursday, September 20, 2018

A thing as ordinary as a mailbox becomes the focus of all of one man's passions in Phil Shreck's eponymous story. Russell tilts not at windmills but at his mailboxes, old and new, and at a deep-seated sense of inadequacy. Shreck reads his darkly funny story aloud in a brilliant performance. [...] more

Two Poems and an Interview

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Football and a bong are the ostensible subjects of Austin Segrest's two poems "Wingback" and "The Big Bong". Segrest's poetry is both playful and serious here, classically grounded and utterly contemporary. After reading the poems, he speaks with Poetry Editor Kirun Kapur about his sources of ideas, his approach to writing, and his current non-poetry obsession: tennis. [...] more

What Matters

Monday, June 8, 2015

A hospital fundraiser is the scene of a chance meeting in Linda Cutting's "What Matters". Ailments small and large spark a lighthearted flirtation that leads a man and a woman to connect. [...] more

MuseFlash 2014

Monday, August 4, 2014

The careful parsing of a phone message leads to a blossoming but perplexing romance. Caitlyn Kinsella's "It's Me" finds humor and poignancy in the intricacies of interaction. [...] more

Reading with Edan Lepucki at Brookline Booksmith

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Joanna Rakoff reads from My Salinger Year and Edan Lepucki reads from California at Brookline Booksmith. Listen in as these two writers read from their work and answer questions about driving through LA during a blackout that seems to presage apocalypse, about the experience of working in J. D. Salinger's agency, and about the shift from novel to memoir, third-person to first. [...] more

The Greenbriar Ghost

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A house haunted by a mother's yearning for excitement is the setting for Andrea Robertson's "The Greenbriar Ghost". Named for a woman whose ghost does haunt the narrator's Southern town, Zona tries to find her own place in a world of signs and warnings, messages from beyond, and the sometimes more troubling messages from within her own family. [...] more


Monday, March 17, 2014

The balky knobs on a Czech stove, the quirky signage on a Prague building, or the smile of a stranger on a train: these are the starting points for Allison Williams' essay about decoding the mysteries of life abroad. But more than geographical foreignness, Williams writes of the potential estrangement from one's partner and from certain crucial parts of one's identity. In "Courtesies," she explores how we navigate as we try to turn the right way. [...] more

Wing Woman

Monday, March 10, 2014

“Another thing of Zinfandel. We’re headed for the Coast," says the narrator of Jonathan Gotsick's "Wing Woman" when she agrees to go along with her recently-divorced friend to assume the story's title role. Toni escorts Shelley on a journey of escape and adventure rendered with vivid and particular--and humorous--detail. Gotsick's narrative leads the two women to an aging rock band and to a final performance whose bombast reveals the story's poignant heart. [...] more

Reading at Brookline Booksmith

Monday, February 17, 2014

Booker-Prize-winning author Roddy Doyle reads from his latest novel The Guts in this recording of an event at Brookline Booksmith on February 6, 2014. Jimmy Rabitte, the protagonist of Doyle's first novel The Commitments , is now middle-aged and facing the difficult task of telling his wife he has cancer. Doyle's trademark spare and witty dialogue anchors the scene. Following the reading, Doyle discusses topics ranging from how he writes dialogue, the Irish recession, and footballer Wayne Rooney, all in his inimitably wry style. [...] more

The Rock

Monday, January 27, 2014

The complexities of a date take on new dimension in Jennifer Hill Ozga's "The Rock". Ozga's story mines the rituals of contemporary dating for their vulnerabilities and power dynamics, setting her unnamed couple on a path of gentle but inexorable devolution. "The Rock" is a story about disappointment, rendered with a light touch through painfully comic details. [...] more

Are You An Animal Lover?

Monday, January 13, 2014

"Are you an animal lover? " is the innocent question that precipitates the soul-searching rendered comically here by Colleen Houlihan. Squirrels, a video store, and a healthy amount of risk-taking and imagination feature in Houlihan's essay, in which an encounter with an unusual customer leads the writer into new and potentially taboo territory. [...] more

Going as a Ghost

Monday, November 25, 2013

Halloween provides a touching backdrop for Erik Doughty's flash fiction piece about the emotional aftermath in a family dealing with loss. "Going as a Ghost" offers a bittersweet look at how we "go as" those who are gone. Doughty's piece is a featured selection from The Drum's Flash Fiction Open Mic held at last month's Boston Book Festival. [...] more

What If?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Books, Actually is The Drum's collection of interlaced stories set in and around the Boston Book Festival. A thief, a teenaged poet, a coxswain, and a disgruntled author are just a few of the characters created by Boston authors Catherine Elcik, Ethan Gilsdorf, Katrina Grigg-Saito, Ted Weesner, Becky Tuch, Clarence Lai, Stace Budzko, and Henriette Lazaridis Power. Hear them all, or go directly to a selected story. Elcik (00:31), Gilsdorf (6:20), Lai (11:47), Power (17:12), Weesner (22:51), Tuch (29:23), Budzko (35:39), Grigg-Saito (37:17), Elcik (42:21). [...] more

ELLEN FREEMAN ROTH Going's Tough in a Storm, But Don't Mention It

Monday, March 18, 2013

Before winter leaves us behind completely, and while memories of the latest snowstorms are still fresh in our minds, we offer Ellen Freeman Roth's tale of a predicament many snowbound drivers fear. In "Going's Tough In a Storm, But Don't Mention It," Freeman Roth recounts her car-bound adventure with liquids, frozen and otherwise. [...] more

STEVE MACONE Who's Walking Who

Monday, October 17, 2011

Steve Macone's "Who's Walking Who" is a wry and hilarious love letter to his local Market Basket grocery store, with its chaos, its crowds, and the various mysteries of its organizing principles. He spots the foibles of human behavior there--his own and those of others--and identifies the strange beauty of this place "where everything meets and touches". [...] more


Monday, September 19, 2011

Caralyn Davis' short story "Wallow" is the Winner of The 2011 Drum/Side B Magazine Dual Publication Award . "Wallow" depicts an evening in the life of a sin-eater, a woman with the ability to consume and absorb the sins of the dead. Following the traditions of the ancient Egyptians, Davis' contemporary sin-eater dresses in style, makes keen social observations about her customers and clients, and contemplates the balance of good and evil. [...] more

RANDY ROSS One Day in Thailand

Monday, September 19, 2011

Randy Ross' "One Day in Thailand" is the Finalist in the 2011 Drum/Side B Dual Publication Award . Brief, clever, and with a final twist, "One Day in Thailand" presents a comic observation on the experience of the ex-patriate in Asia. [...] more


Monday, June 20, 2011

Amy Yelin's essay "Torn" takes us through a daughter's experience guiding her father through the rituals following her mother's death. Then things get complicated, as Yelin deals with the discovery of her father's secretive relationship with another woman. In exploring that relationship, and the new family dynamic that emerges after its often humorous revelation, Yelin sheds light on the impulses that lead us to reject or welcome one another. [...] more

ASKOLD MELNYCZUK excerpt from Excerpts from SMEDLEY's Secret Guide to World Literature

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fifteen years old and educated beyond his years, beset by the chaos of his family and a possibly pregnant girlfriend, Jonathan Levy Wainscoting IV narrates Askold Melnyczuk's novel-in-progress Excerpts from SMEDLEY's Secret Guide to World Literature . Woven through with literary, philosophical, and cultural references, Jonathan's narrative muses on his parents' and his friends' complicated lives on the eve of his forced summer's-long departure from his Cambridge home. Excerpts from SMEDLEY's Secret Guide to World Literature first appeared in the June 2011 issue of The Drum , and represents 02139 [...] more

JULIETTE FAY excerpt from Deep Down True

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Juliette Fay's novel Deep Down True follows Dana Stellgarten as she finds her feet after a divorce. In this excerpt, Dana encounters an unusual--and unusually-colored--addition to her usual array of daily parenting challenges. [...] more

KEITH TEMPLE It's Behind You

Friday, April 8, 2011

Keith Temple's It's Behind You is a story about fame, megalomania and murder. After years in the limelight as a popular soap star, Carina Hemsley is appearing as the Good Fairy in the Christmas pantomime show of a third-rate northern theater, terrorising the cast and crew as she drinks and smokes herself to death. Audiences are down and the outlook for the holiday show isn’t good, until Carina starts receiving death threats in the post. [...] more

LYDIA MILLET Oh Pure And Radiant Heart first chapter

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lydia Millet's novel Oh Pure and Radiant Heart plucks the three scientists who were integral to the invention of the atom bomb: Robert Oppenheimer, Leo Szilard, and Enrico Fermi as they watch history's first mushroom cloud rise over the desert on July 16th, 1945, and places them down in modern-day Santa Fe. One by one, the scientists are spotted by a shy librarian who becomes convinced of their authenticity. Entranced, bewildered, and overwhelmed by their significance as historical markers on the one hand, and their peculiar personalities on the other, she, [...] more

ANDREW KAUFMAN All My Friends Are Superheroes

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Through a partnership with Iambik Audiobooks , we bring you the first chapter of Andrew Kaufman's novel All My Friends Are Superheroes , published by Coach House Books. Gordon Mackenzie reads the chapter aloud. All Tom's friends really are superheroes. There's the Ear, the Spooner, the Impossible Man. Tom even married a superhero, the Perfectionist. But at their wedding, the Perfectionist was hypnotized (by ex-boyfriend Hypno, of course) to believe that Tom is invisible. Nothing he does can make her see him. So she's [...] more

CD COLLINS The Vigilantes of Vance

Monday, December 6, 2010

CD Collins' essay "The Vigilantes of Vance" is a portrait of her candy-eating, derringer-toting, fast-driving mother, and a drily funny story of the woman's power to enthrall those around her. [...] more


Monday, November 29, 2010

Bret Anthony Johnston starts off his reading at the November 15 Four Stories /Drum event with "Porn Star," his entry for a dictionary of dirty words. [...] more

FAITH SALIE Four Stories Introduction

Monday, November 22, 2010

Faith Salie welcomes the crowd at Cambridge's Enormous Room to the November 15 Four Stories event in collaboration with The Drum, goes over the ground rules--and opines on The Great Gatsby , pageants, and catheters. [...] more

DEBORAH MILSTEIN A Yiddish Vocabulary

Monday, September 27, 2010

A feisty grandmother, Yiddish nicknames, and a hospital stay come together in Deborah Milstein's "A Yiddish Vocabulary. " Milstein's essay offers a reverie on Jewish heritage and on the words that bind family together. [...] more

AARON TILLMAN Heeding Doctor Eisner

Thursday, September 9, 2010

In Newbury College professor Aaron Tillman's "Heeding Doctor Eisner," an over-analyzing academic comes undone as he clings to sociological theory and to questionable sources of advice in the figures of his boss, his student, and his fellow commuters. [...] more

JASON M. RUBIN In the Nickel of Time

Monday, May 24, 2010

The narrator of Jason M. Rubin’s “In the Nickel of Time” works at a convenience story where the weight of a roll of nickels comes in handy for an act of late-night self-defense. [...] more


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Elinor Teele’s “Covenant” offers a modern retelling of the story of Noah’s Ark. Teele’s Noah packs his family’s pets, his wife, and their three grown children into a dingy scallop boat, along with a few beers. [...] more

theme: comedy

theme: crisis

theme: relationships

theme: family

genre: essay

novel excerpt

short fiction


under 10 min

under 20 min

under 30 min

under 40 min