“Maternal Instinct”

The fictional story “Maternal Instinct” was inspired by a news story that occurred a few years ago when a boy fell in a gorilla pit at a zoo. I don’t know anything about the boy or his family or even remember which zoo, but I did hear someone (a psychologist, on a radio show, I think) say that people who hear these news stories make up narratives to fit their versions of what happened. I began thinking about this, and even more about the impact such an event would have on the boy’s life.  My story takes place many years after the incident when the boy is recalling what happened to him and how it changed his life. As I was developing the story I was particularly delighted–well into the story–to find myself in the head of the gorilla; this was the most transformative moment of the story for me.

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About Garnett Cohen

Garnett Kilberg Cohen has published three collections of short stories, most recently Swarm to Glory (Wiseblood Books). Her awards include two Notable Essay citations from Best American Essays (2011 and 2015); the Crazyhorse National Fiction Prize; the Lawrence Foundation Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review; and four awards from the Illinois Council of the Arts. Her essays and short stories have appeared in American Fiction, TriQuarterly, The Rumpus, The Antioch Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Literary Review, Black Warrior Review, The Gettysburg Review and many other journals. A professor at Columbia College Chicago, Garnett co-edits Punctuate, A Nonfiction Magazine.