Pick of the Week » Cheston KnappPosted: September 19, 2010
This week’s pick goes to Tin House Managing Editor Cheston Knapp for his story “A Minor Momentousness in the History of Love.” First published by One Story, the piece is mostly told from the point of view of “the only fourth year ballboy in the program’s history.” While I’m not sure what the program is, the sport is tennis and the ballboy, William Able, ruminates on his seemingly lost love while working the historic Roger Federer v. Pete Sampras Wimbledon match of 2001.
What most impresses me about this story is the way Knapp utilizes Able’s wavering focus—his pride in his position of senior ballboy during the most exciting match of the year and the infatuation that distracts him from this—wrapped up in the match even as his attention drifts toward the woman responsible for what he considers to be “ten of the best months of his life.” Able’s resultant self-knowledge continually emerges to illuminate what Knapp told Hannah Tinti was his inspiration for the story: “What exactly is the deal with those ballboys?” This character development highlights the dual plotline and helps it succeed because the protagonist has a vested interest in each thread and is pulled, like the ball hit back and forth, from one force to the other. The match is not used as a symbol for their relationship but it does provide the context, and we the readers, in conjunction with Able and in the timeless advice of Chevy Chase, become the ball.
This coming week » On Monday, Porchlight Storytelling starts its 9th year and will feature Rumpus Managing Editor Isaac Fitzgerald, who has—I promise you—some very incredulous life stories. Then we’re basically following Meg Day around. First, on Tuesday, Lambda Literary Emerging Voices. Then on Thursday see a talented heap of poets wax on about Barbie, or something. A week from today is the fourth installment of American Street Showcase—an always astounding barrage of performances—followed by Portuguese Artists Colony, which in addition to the talented resident writers will feature Peg Alford Pursell and a challenge: live writing. During the customary musical act, two colonists (this month, Caitlin Myer and Daniel Heath) will battle two guests (Ian Tuttle and I myself) in a ten-minute response to a prompt. At the end of the ten minutes, each writer will read his or her work, and the audience will vote for the story they want to see developed for the following month. Excellent idea (and we’ll see how it goes). Stay tuned as we gear up for Litquake. Coming soon!