The Story Behind the Story: “Basement Love Story”

This story fictionalizes actual people and situations. I worked on it for about a year and a half (off and on, off and on!) in tandem with another flash piece featuring the same characters.

Initially I aimed “Basement Love Story” for a journal that limits flash to 300 words. That’s basically the long first paragraph in the final version. For a time I was calling the 300-word version “Overinvolved.” A friend I exchange work with, Andy Mozina, suggested “Basement Love Story” as the title, which certainly ended up being the better one for subsequent versions.

A suggestion by an editor at another publication led me to add the second paragraph and a final one-sentence ending. But the story hadn’t found the right home, and not yet the right ending.

Chris Tusa liked that version enough to suggest I tweak the ending to make it less obvious, more oblique. Rather than a move toward “some grand conclusion,” Chris suggested I do what I had done until that point in the piece, which was to reveal emotion through details. So I wrote a new final paragraph, the ending in the Fiction Southeast version of the story.

As for why I tried to write about a relationship from long ago in a few hundred words, one reason is the challenge; it’s sort of the other side of the coin from exploding moments across a several pages of a long piece. The flash form helped me conjure up the original intensity of my feelings toward individuals and settings in the story and dovetail in decades of temporal distance.

In other words, the form helped me mime my memory.

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About Glenn Deutsch

Glenn Deutsch’s stories and poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Literary Review, Confrontation, Post Road, Notre Dame Review, Gargoyle, and Prick of the Spindle, among others. In the nineties he wrote for half a dozen newspapers and magazines in Milwaukee. Since 2002 he's lived on the other side of the lake, in Kalamazoo, where he is completing a story collection and his first novel.