Listen to Molly Ringwald Tell Scary Stories

Singer-songwriter and Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle curates an offbeat evening of music, horror, and celebrities.

Photo courtesy of Symphony Space

Do you know how popular she is?

Along with two-time Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon and Law & Order: Criminal Intent’s Kathryn Erbe, ’80s icon Molly Ringwald will be reading macabre tales onstage, just in time for Halloween.

The literary selections—including passages from Spanish novelist Javier Marías, “weird fiction” short story writer Robert Aickman, and horror author Dennis Etchison—have been curated by singer-songwriter John Darnielle as part of Symphony Space’s upcoming Selected Shorts program.

John Darnielle. Photo courtesy of Symphony Space

Selected Shorts is a nationally broadcast public radio show that invites well-known guests to curate programs featuring excerpts from their favorite literary works. “The goal is to get inside these artists’ heads,” Jennifer Brennan, director of Symphony Space’s literary programs, tells me. “We ask them to share their inspirations and, while that often aligns in a theme, we encourage variety and emphasize to the curators that they should make picks that best represent their own tastes, no matter how obscure or particular.” Those excerpts are then read live by a selection of celebrity actors, who bring life to the printed word.

An artist with an accomplished recording career—he’s produced 16 indie rock LPs and near-yearly placements on Album of the Year lists—Darnielle performs as the lead (and occasionally only) member of his band, the Mountain Goats, whose vibrant, lo-fi sound has made the group a favorite among a mostly older audience of cerebral rock fans that treasures the band’s clever songwriting. But he’s an exciting Selected Shorts curator for another reason: He’s written two well-received thriller novels, Wolf in White Van and Universal Harvester. So he knows from creepy copy.

As a special bonus to cap off the evening, Darnielle will perform a short musical set that will include a never-before-performed song titled “Skeleton’s Tooth.” It’s the perfect erudite Halloween thrill, no costume required.

Selected Shorts: An Evening With John Darnielle and Special Guests
Symphony Space
2537 Broadway (at West 95th Street), Upper West Side
Wednesday, October 24
7:30 p.m.
Tickets start at $37; $21 for those under 30