Guest host Dennis O’Hare presents two unorthodox love stories.

First, British writer Jane Gardam twists Hans Christian Andersen’s tail in a saucy reboot of “The Little Mermaid.”  In her version, “The Pangs of Love,” the tragic mermaid has a snarky younger sister who wants “happily ever after” on her own terms.

Gardam, who is not as well known outside of her native England as she should be, was a prolific writer of children’s and adult fiction, much of it concerned with the inner lives of children, and with issues of class.  Her novels include The Hollow Land and The Queen of the Tambourine (both winners of the distinguished Whitbread prize), and God on the Rocks.  Collections include The People on Privilege Hill and The Stories of Jane Gardam.

 “The Pangs of Love” is performed by Jane Kaczmarek, best known for her role as Lois on “Malcolm in the Middle.”  In New York, Kaczmarek has appeared on Broadway and off at Manhattan Theatre Club, Second Stage, the Public Theatre, New York Theater Workshop, and the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Kaczmarek appeared in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” at the Geffen Playhouse in LA, and most recently played the Stage Manager in “Our Town” with Deaf West Theatre at the Pasadena Playhouse.

Our second story, “Hat Trick,” appears sedate on the surface.  A mother in the 1950s counsels her daughter and her friends on love and courtship, and devises a playful way to secure a husband, using “the best match marker of all—chance.”  The story is delicate and touching, but also has an element of the uncanny.  “Widows,” muses the main character, “are notorious witches.”

Author Edith Pearlman is the recipient of the 2011 PEN/Malamud Award for excellence in the art of short fiction. Her story collections include Honeydew, and Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories, which won the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction and was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and The Story Prize. She has published more than 250 works in national magazines and anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories.

Sharon Gless makes her SELECTED SHORTS debut as the reader of “Hat Trick.”  She’s the winner of two Emmys, ten nominations and two Golden Globes for her leading roles in “Cagney & Lacey” and “The Trials of Rosie O’Neill.” She has starred in numerous television shows and films including “Queer as Folk,” “Burn Notice,” “The Exorcist,” “Nip/Tuck,” and the independent features, “Once Fallen” and “Hannah Free.”  Her theater credits include “Misery,” “Chapter Two,” and “A Round-Heeled Woman.”

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