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.
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