While Jen Knox has a more generous glow to her skin than this little pug, her prose is as endearing. “After the Gazebo” pulls the reader into wrinkle of time in the sweet old wrinkles of the pug’s neckline. She’s that good! She has a gift. And, in step with the stylistic touches Alice Munro’s world-making, Knox pulls the reader into dynamic reflection. The larger questions are in play against the landscape of time’s relentless nature and humanity’s love of each other in spite of it all.
“The Prize at the End of This” delves into the motivation of preservation of life—life experiences with the creation of a bucket list:
The question—what scares you most?—cannot be unasked. I sit to write a sort of bucket list, sure that what scares me most is not to live to the fullest. For the first time since that writing practice so many years before, my words clog. I do not move. Pen cannot leave paper.
If you want to witness a very special writer with a rising voice in the literary world, read Jen Knox’s stories and the interview. CR Stories Interviews Jen Knox. Here’s a snippet:
NIYA: I am impressed by how you take us through time, aging people and their stories in juxtaposition with the pug in “After the Gazebo.” I felt I knew the pug intimately simply by the first description of his skin. And then I began to see the pug as watcher; a gatekeeper of time and of age. Can you speak to the genesis of this story? It’s excellent and so powerful for our theme this fall.
JEN: I love how you phrased that, a watcher and gatekeeper, because that is exactly how Prince seemed to come to me. He was a device on surface—the one factor that set so many things in motion that could arguably have led to the unnamed couple’s fate—but things are never that simple. A single decision may set others in motion, and this was the guideline of the story, but I wanted to show that perspective allows for what the obvious does not. The beauty and heartbreak in life is often brought on in degrees and in deep feelings that extend beyond belief to transcend our reality. Prince is a survivor, and he is a watcher, yes. He goes through the motions of his role, but something deeper motivates him and that thing may transcend life and death. I suppose that part’s up to the reader.
We are proud to showcase Jen Knox. Please leave comments and visit up in our social media hubs.
Paper! What a crazy and amazing invention. Could you imagine us with a hammer and hundred of iron letters on our writing desks and large slabs of stone? Ah, suddenly… thinking of paper makes me feel I’ve lost a gazillion pounds and Shakespeare is whispering sonnets in my ear. Thank you paper, I love you!
Though paper was invented in 105 AD in China, our featured writer, Nathan Alling Long’s richly layered story “In China” is far from the invention of paper. The piece invents in other surprising ways. With paper as a witness to treacheries outside, it acts as unifying element of grief on the human level. This is a beautiful story. “In China” excerpt:
Every day I read the paper, looking for such disasters—new piles of bodies found in Rwanda, an earthquake in Chiapas, a derailed train outside Copenhagen. The worst news always makes me feel a little better, always lessens this feeling that I’m the only one with loss.
In his story “Flies” I get a visceral thrill—a good physical dose of the power of paper. And, the symbolic gestures are something to consider. A short excerpt to give you a taste:
I have to say, I get pretty damn good at knocking these things off the wall. The real pleasure is hearing them land on the floor like tiny bits of paper, a faint sound, like a fallen angel. Killing is not so bad in tiny amounts, it strikes me now, and I wonder if I might be able to kill a person this way, one gram at a time. What if these flies are really one body, just broken up into tiny soldiers?
CR Stories is proud to present Nathan’s talent for the Spring showcase. Did we get other flashes for the paper theme? Yes, we did. But Nathan’s work captured the CR Stories spirit of richly layered prose using paper as a unifying element. So Nathan steals the spring show. Enjoy his work. Stay tuned for the interview next week!
Your curly red editor and founder, Niya.
Every fall I choose a theme for the year. It’s my “real” new year’s ritual. It’s the time that I ask, how will this year be different from last? What will I not tolerate again? What will I enthusiastically add? What will be hard but I’ll do it anyway? What will I not change at all because I love it as is? Of course these questions are assuming that I have an inkling of control over how my life will proceed. ; )
Nature doesn’t have a frontal lobe. Nature doesn’t pontificate its design and move the pieces around. It just rumbles through its job and lets the consequences fall. Fall: To fall into fall. I wonder if the instrument of change finds us best when we are not thinking at all? Listening to nature’s brain and taking note.
And this is why this fall’s theme, Change is so exciting to me. To ask the questions of how any life will change over the course of a year is fun, yes. To imagine and want and design how it could be. Yes. And then sit down and read a story. Come out the other side of it altered, humbled by the unexpected details that not only changed the main character but somehow moved some molecules around in your world view. Real change seems to be laughing at my questions. If change were a Greek God it would throw me a dinosaur to ride into the next chapter of my life.
We are very, very excited to read the many submissions with ‘change’ at the core of each story and to be altered in the process. In the meantime, here are a few stories I can’t forget that changed me.
Stories of note:
The eery uprising where reality and relationship dance and yet counteract one another in Annie Proulx’s “Half Skinned Steer.”
“Running with Scissors.” A novel and film. My take-aways? Change is relative. There is no normal to deviate from. Nature in full force. Love it.
“The Search Engine.” Sherman Alexie’s book of stories, Ten Little Indians. A beautiful story about an intellectually hungry and passionate college girl in search of a missing Native American poet. The element of surprise for me was contained in the bleak complexities of the examined life. Yet all the stories in this book moved me deeply and caused me to read it again and again.
What are some of your thoughts on stories that you can’t forget that changed you?
And please let us know how our writers stories in November impact you. Comments are like that first cup of coffee – so good and ‘more please’!
Niya Christine, Founder & Publisher CR Stories Journal