Benjamin Johncock

novelist, writer

Ask me anything

Short Stories Aloud - a new literary night for Oxford


This morning I’m turning things over to the wonderful Sarah Franklin who’s going to tell you about a brilliant new literary night that she’s set up for Oxford. Over to you, Sarah…


A few years ago, when I was living in Seattle, I was involved with a lovely literary event called Short Stories Live. It’s a really simple premise, and one inspired by NPR/Symphony Space’s Selected Shorts: actors read beloved short stories, transforming them by the act of reading into something more than words on a page. The New York version has the likes of Kevin Spacey and Alec Baldwin reading the stories. We didn’t get quite that far in Seattle, but we had some wonderful actors and some incredible stories.

Short Stories Live became a vitally important part of my new world in the New World. It helped me to find a tribe of like-minded people in a busy city. The stories themselves were a rabbithole into the minds of the American psyche; I discovered realms of American literature I hadn’t previously known. There were the older greats such as Isaac Bashevis Singer, Flannery O’Connor, as well as getting to know and meet new emerging voices like Adam Haslett and Ryan Boudinot. Amongst the chaos that starting a new life brings, I found anew the healing power of sitting quietly whilst someone reads to you, the rain hammering on the windows (this was Seattle, after all). I learned the joy of discovery, of the connections between seemingly unconnected stories. 

All the time I was away, I was certain this was an idea that would work well in the UK. And now it’s time to act on the courage of those convictions. Short Stories Aloud debuts in Oxford’s Old Firestation on Tuesday, 24 April at 7:30pm. Tickets are just a fiver, in advance or on the door. There’s a Facebook group, and a Twitter account: @StoriesAloud (or follow me @SarahEFranklin). 

We’re mixing things up a bit; rather than three straight readings, we’re going to have two readings followed by chat with the actors and the authors (and, hopefully, LOTS of audience participation). 

The two authors coming along on 24 April are absolutely brilliant. DW Wilson, the youngest-ever winner of the BBC National Short Story Award, has his debut collection, Once You Break A Knuckle, out this month. Roshi Fernando was shortlisted for the 2011 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award for a tale from her collection, Homesick. We haven’t yet persuaded Kevin Spacey along but it’s only a matter of time; and the actors we do have are going to be fabulous. 

Anyway; we’d love to see you there. If you can’t make 24 April, the next events are Tuesday, 29 May and Tuesday, 26 June


blog comments powered by Disqus
Page 1 of 1