Understories
Bellevue Literary Press
Tim Horvath
“A Box Of One’s Own”
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“A Box of One’s Own” is from Tim Horvath’s debut story collection, UNDERSTORIES (Bellevue Literary Press). His stories have also appeared in Conjunctions, Fiction, Alimentum, and elsewhere. This collection includes the award-winning “Understory,” selected by Bill Henderson for the Raymond Carver Short Story Award.

 

Horvath said this about the origin of his story: The closest thing to a moment of conception for this story is me lying before a snowy black-and-white TV set glued to Monty Python in grade school. I wasn’t one of those kids I’d meet a few years later who would be able to rattle off “the Holy Grail” better than Cleese, Palin, et al. I’d eventually see “Life of Brian” at the Thalia in New York, and “Meaning of Life,” somewhat mortifyingly, with my stately Southern grandmother.

 

But back then, it was the “Flying Circus” that wormed its way into my brain.

 

I loved everything about Python – it never occurred to me that they might be even slightly dated, culturally remote. Most especially, I dug the pell-mell situational metamorphoses, a “sketch” revealed as merely a speck within something larger, the ever-shifting genre, the music suddenly exposed as the handiwork of musicians just off-stage, how the opening credits wouldn’t roll until fifteen minutes in, if at all. Such anarchy was the closest thing to the play-worlds my brother and I conjured, suspending physics and metaphysics, forays into fabulism. This story, then, began as so many Python skits do—with a ridiculous premise and instant conflict. As with so many Python sketches, the story flirts with absurdity, but I hope it points the way toward the opposite.

 

(In looking through some Python skits on Youtube, I encountered one immediately in which some local politician, delivers a speech about a “box,” enunciating the word each time with such gusto that it begins to sound nonsensical, all the more so as he then goes on to restate the entire speech in various languages, translating “box” to “boite,” etc.).

 

Bill Henderson praised the title story in the collection,”The Understory,” when he selected it for the Raymond Carver Short Story Award: “It is a terrific reach through history from the pre- and post- Nazi era in Germany up to the present. . . . This is a wonderful story, a first-rate creation by a fine writer.”

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