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A Conversation With PEN America Best Debut Short Stories 2019 Author Kelsey Peterson
“I think, in pursuit of truth, science and religion still have to wrestle with the strictures of human knowledge, error, pride.”
Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician and Christian apologist born in 1623. He was very close with his younger sister, Jacqueline, born in 1625, a poet who became a nun. Both were considered prodigies.
I saw a perfect circle today. The yellow disk at the center of an anemone bloomed early and whose white petals had curled back in the wind. I marveled at its humble perfection, springing forth from some superabundance of the unrelenting spring. I am curious if there is an equation for such a flower, the formula to project its arcs and angles, its radii and planes. But I think: What an excessive, joyful thing. Let us smell it and give glory to God.
Printed in the Gazette today there was a poem of some merit, and I wondered if you still write. To harness the imagination to your whimsy—it’s a dangerous, even dangerously useless gift, but you had have it.
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“When you’re a kid you’re not sure if you don’t know something because you haven’t been taught it or because you’re not supposed to know.”
“The narration style feels very conversational to me. I liked how second-person really tries to make the reader part of the story as well.”
“I slowly connected the dots that nearly all my friends—no matter what continent we had been on—had experienced some level of sexual violence.”
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“The idea here is the casual way children can accept and parrot this kind of simple, black-and-white math about worth. So much so that in a pinch they are willing write off their own mother!”
“For me, I guess fairytales are where I am simultaneously most at home, and most at odds with the world around me.”
“Inspiration came from the stupid pencil jar our family had when I was growing up.”