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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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“Every interaction between adult siblings presents a chance to get more clarity about the past. Hopefully, we’re able to seize at least some of these chances.”
“I wrote much of the story listening to jazz, including the title song, for inspiration on how to shift without imposing too much of a structure.”
“I wanted to portray the pain of trying to reach someone who is inside their own, unreachable pain, and how this often puts untenable pressure on relationships.”
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“I started thinking about immoral women, women who are not merely complicit counterparts to A Bad Man but active participants in cruelty.”
“The themes of social justice, the magic of water, and the power of queer love to create a different world—these are themes that I return to again and again in my writing and my life.”
“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.”