Fantasy writer Neil Gaiman hosts a program featuring two of his own stories and a classic by John Collier.

Gaiman is the Swiss Army Knife of artists.  His website features tabs for work in audio, books, comics, films, television, and theatre.  Amongst the best known are hisSandman comics; the children’s book Coraline (and subsequent film) and the novel American Gods.   The stories featured on this show were performed as part of a SHORTS evening he hosted at Symphony Space.

 The title says it all in “When We Went to See the End of the World by Dawnie Morningside, Age 11¼.”  Gaiman says he imagined a young girl writing an essay for school, but the story has the wistful, unintentional irony of a grown up’s world viewed through a child’s eyes.  SHORTS regular reader Kirsten Vangsness, a star of the television series “Criminal Minds,” is a friend of Gaiman’s, and demanded to read this.  Good thing too.

 Gaiman himself reads John Collier’s eerie “Evening Primrose,” about a secret society that inhabits a large department store.  He says it’s a pity that Collier isn’t better known, as he was the creator of many an eerie tale, as well as other works including the screenplay for “African Queen.”  “Evening Primrose” has been adapted in a number of other media, notably as a musical by Stephen Sondheim; for the radio series “Escape;” and by the BBC.  It was originally published in 1951 in the collection Fancies and Goodnights.

 The program finishes with another Gaiman story, “July Tale.”  It was part of a crowd-sourced fiction project that he did in conjunction with Blackberry, asking people to write in response to questions he posed on Twitter.   The result was “Calendar Tales,” a story for each month of the year.  In this one, a lovesick husband builds an igloo out of books.  (Gaiman’s tweet was “What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen in July?”)  Gaiman reads.

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