Four tales about the lighter side of love, from rib-tickling to rueful.
First, comic master and doyenne of the Algonquin Roundtable Dorothy Parker specialized in hilarious rants. In “The One on My Right,” she’s trapped at a dinner party with a dreary tablemate, but keeps sneaking glances at the handsome prospect on her other side. Reader Christina Pickles nails Parker’s demure exterior and seething inner landscape.
Next Patricia Marx tracks a difficult courtship in “Starting from Happy” in an excerpt from her illustrated novel of the same name. Marx is a staff writer for The New Yorker, The reader is SHORTS’ go-to girl for wacky, Kirsten Vangsness, a star of the hit television series “Criminal Minds.”
Only Simon Rich would re-imagine the “Occupy” movement as a love triangle. A frustrated activist channels his problems with the “fat cats” of Wall Street into an equal frustration with the unattainable girl he’s had a crush on since their first day of college. Rich was a staff writer for “Saturday Night Live,” and his books include Elliot Allagash, What in God’s Name, Spoiled Brats, and Last Girlfriend on Earth, which features “Occupy Jen’s Street.” The reader is comedian Wyatt Cenac, formerly of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”
Frustration seems to be a key component of rocky romances, but it crops up, too, in happier relationships. The woman in Joe Meno’s “People are Becoming Clouds” transforms into a charming array of vapors every time her husband touches her. Meno is the author of six novels and two story collections. “People are Becoming Clouds” appeared in his collection Demons in the Spring, which was a finalist for The Story Prize. Reader Kirsten Vangsness is back for this one, in a more wistful vein.