I was thrilled when Curtis Smith submitted work to us for this issue. Long before I became the editor of r.kv.r.y., I read his short story collection The Species Crown and was blown away by Curt’s inventive style and command of scene. And I’m not alone in my admiration of his work–he’s published five books of fiction and his stories and essays have appeared in over seventy literary journals and have been cited by The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Mystery Stories, and The Best American Spiritual Writing. The Physics of Memory and Death is the tile of his short story in this issue, and I’ve asked him to tell us a little bit about the process and inspiration for the piece. Here is his response:
“I’ve always had a thing for physics—its answers and equations; its unifying principles. In high school and college we learn about gravity, velocity, acceleration, and momentum. We learn about vectors and the parabolic paths of objects in flight. These concepts rule us in ways we can never dispute, yet we rarely consider them. They provide an underlying current of truth and immutability in an otherwise chaotic world.
When I’m writing, I often think about the shape of my story or essay. I try to visualize it—some stories are round, some circular. Some bulge at one end. Some are like a burst of light—here then gone. Others are laid out in sections like playing poker cards upon a table. I enjoy playing with shape, trying to see how I can use them to enhance a piece. In my collection The Species Crown I have a few stories written in the form of outlines and another that uses elements of geometry as its structuring element.
I wanted to do a similar story using physics. I considered many different laws and equations, all the while trying to come up with a narrative I could weave through it all. It took some time, but I hope this story ending up pulling it all together.”
Definitely, Curt. Thank you.
And for your further reading pleasure, here are a few links to more of Curtis’s fine work (appearing in some of my favorite online journals):
One Truth (Smokelong Quarterly)
The Fears of Children (Annalemma)
How to Remember the Dead (Post Road)
And last but not-at-all least, you can pre-order a signed copy of his exciting new collection Beasts & Men, between now and Februrary 1st at the Press 53 website. If you like short stories, I highly recommend Curt’s work.