The Story Behind the Story: “Levitation”

“Levitation” was inspired by my three children.  Someone said to me on the day I was getting divorced, “Just remember, your children are as foreign to you as the spouse you bore them with.”  My children were very young then, and the kernel of truth inherent in this has haunted me throughout their lives.  Their foreignness and familiarity inform much of my focus as a writer, and I tried in this story to make the age of the narrator’s daughter ambiguous because the foreignness and familiarity are a source of joy, mystery, and magic that have evolved throughout my experience with them.  Now that I have grandchildren, those dimensions  have grown exponentially.  The most difficult aspect in exploring these ideas was creating a strong sentiment and staying away from sentimentality.  This may be apocryphal, but when I was an undergraduate creative writing student, James Dickey was quoted in class as saying something to the effect that good stories strive for sentiment without crossing the invisible line into sentimentality.  Draft after draft of this was abandoned because I crossed that line over and over again.  I hope this version has managed to get close without going over.

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About TJ Rivard

TJ Rivard has published in the Kentucky Poetry Review, Cafe Irreal, SmokeLong Quarterly, flashquake, FewerThan500, Eureka Literary Magazine, Gulf Stream Magazine the Oxford Magazine, and others. He lives in Richmond, Indiana with his wife, Beth, and teaches at Indiana University East.