The love of his life had been married for five years before he met her, and dead for five days before he'd found out. Clandestine lovers weren't notified in the event of a tragedy. The police and medical examiners had waited days before releasing the names of those killed in the concert fire to the public.
The paper had published profiles of the victims, and that's where, halfway through his usual breakfast of a slice of toast and a banana, the news had found him.
NPR's Bob Mondello reads an excerpt of one of the best submissions for Round 11 of our short story contest. He reads Beyond the Fence by Matthew Campbell of Salem, Mass. You can read the full story below and find other stories on our Three-Minute Fiction page or on Facebook.
Over the last 15 years, the South African writer Lauren Beukes has been a journalist, a screenwriter, a documentarian — and most recently, a novelist. Her newest book is called The Shining Girls, a summer thriller about a time-traveling serial killer and the victim who escapes to hunt him down.
Comedian George Carlin liked to say that art doesn't have a finish line. The trio behind Ghost Brothers of Darkland County are the embodiment of that idea. Each is a superstar in his chosen field: rock music legend, best-selling novelist, record producer — trades they could have been content to pursue to the grave. Instead, they went and wrote a musical together, 13 years in the making.
The man was so beautiful. He appeared to be stepping out of the ad on the side of the bus, his hair illuminated in sun. Amelia saw the little slip of paper burst from his pocket when he pulled out his keys. It flipped in the air once, twice before it caught against the cement stairs right in front of her. She quickly shut her mailbox with the very tiny key that made her feel oversized and fumbling.
Throughout the entertainment industry, alumni of a tiny, vocational high school program are at work: building sets in Hollywood, mixing sound on Broadway, performing on TV shows like The Office. They're graduates of the Addison Repertory Theater (A.R.T.), an incubator for actors and theater technicians at the Hannaford Career Center in Middlebury, Vt.
Heard any really good jokes lately? Andrew Hudgins is one of America's most noted poets, but he says he has a hard time recalling any actual lines of poetry. He can, however, recite knock-knock jokes he heard in the third grade. Ever since then, he has favored the kind of humor that can make people squirm or even make them angry. Jokes about religion, race, sex, weight, the O.J. Simpson case, Natalie Wood's death, and punch lines from Adolf Hitler's generals — everything is fair game.
Richard Pryor occupies his own special category in comedy. He played Las Vegas and made popular movies, and performed routines that were almost short stories — searing, profane and moving.
Pryor grew up in his grandmother's brothel in Peoria, Ill.; she beat him, too. He was expelled from high school and enlisted in the U.S. Army, but spent much of his military stint in prison. And with a special fever of genius — torched by drugs, fueled by grief and enlivened by exhilaration — he created unforgettable depictions of what it's like to feel left out of American life.
In June 2012, Nik Wallenda — of the great Wallenda Family circus dynasty — walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. On June 23, he plans to cross the Grand Canyon the same way. Wallenda has also recently written a memoir called Balance: Christian Faith and Miraculous Results.