The 113th Birthday Celebration Reading Series

William Saroyan was born on August 31st, 1908, in Fresno California. The 4th child of Armenak and Takoohi Saroyan, William would go on to become the most celebrated Fresnan of all time, and one of the 20th century's great literary figures. 

In honor of his birthday, Forever Saroyan is proud to present a new series of readings, featuring two lesser-known Saroyan stories, and one of his most memorable classics. 


Ben (1937)

First published by Faber & Faber as a part of The Gay & Melancholy Flux in 1937, Ben is something of an outlier in William Saroyan's bibliography. A powerful, impressionistic story of history and mortality, Ben shows a rare side of Saroyan's work, embracing a decidedly modernist tone and aesthetic that he never again seemed to work in. The story's wide-ranging subject matter and the way it plays with timelines, both human and historical, presents a rare glimpse of Saroyan working outside of his regular style.




Reader Derek McCaw is an actor, podcaster, writer and editor dividing his time between the Silicon Valley and Los Angeles. Since 2000, he has run the website Fanboy Planet


Pure Agony (1937)

Pure Agony, read by Kristy Baxter, was first published in Globe magazine and has not been re-published since. It is a story of heartbreak, longing, and the inability to cut portions of one's heart out to save it from the pain. The story is an exceptional example of his early period prose style, though deals with heartbreak in a fashion that was much more reminiscent of his later memoir writing. 



Kristy Baxter is a writer and podcaster out of Johnstown, PA. She is the co-host of Short Story, Short Podcast and Old Timey Crimey, as well as the producer/host of Detectives by the Decade. 


Dear Gretta Garbo (1934)

One of Saroyan's best-known and loved works, Dear Gretta Garbo talks about the role of celebrity and how movie star and a reality star can blur the lines. Incredibly prescient for its discussion of the collapsing of media celebrity at a time before television and the internet made it commonplace. 


Chris Garcia is an Archivist for Forever Saroyan. Outside of the office, he is a zine publisher, writer, filmmaker, and podcaster.



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