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A Conversation With PEN America Best Debut Short Stories 2019 Author Laura Freudig
“When you feel like you have no power in a relationship, withholding becomes one of the only ways you can maintain the illusion of agency.”
My husband, John, calls me a good mother. He says this with a glint of unease in his eyes, as though he is telling a lie or working a charm. He calls during his coffee breaks—he doesn’t drink coffee, so he has time to talk—and asks, “How is Clint?” and when I say, “Fine,” or “Sleeping,” or “Alive,” he asks, “And how are you, sweetie?” He’s learned that sweetie is a potent word. Still, my answers vary.
I know if he dared, he’d go next door to Humpback Ales after work and drink until I became bearable, which would be at least two hours for him, because he’s a slow drinker. But he’s home every day at 5:07 because he loves Clint, who is named after the ideal country lane where my husband grew up. He wants a similar childhood for his son, who may not be getting it.
The New YorkernotThe Sun
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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.”
“I think, in pursuit of truth, science and religion still have to wrestle with the strictures of human knowledge, error, pride.”
“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.”
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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!”
“I love that our stories are beginning to get the attention they deserve, but that’s not enough for me. I want more.”
“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.”