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Comments Kimberly Ford
O. Henry Recommended Story Author

"Generation" is almost entirely autobiographical. I was one of the little girls making her way back to the rented flat throughout the course of the story. More than the tale of a specific morning, though, the work took on importance for me as a study of the nature of memory. I'm fascinated by the memory of past experiences coloring present ones. The idea of a seminal yet ordinary memory like that morning in London having stayed with me for twenty years feels important. Then, of course, there is the imposition of my memory (and imagination) onto the other members of the family. I loved trying to imagine what that event might have been for my father, my grandmother, my mother.

The only interesting thing about the submission of the story is that I really loved "Generation" and felt really strongly about it. I had been waiting for news with lots of anticipation once I had sent it out. I got home with my three kids one particularly harried evening. I was actually sitting on the toilet peeing and checking the messages and yelling something at one of the kids when I heard Wendy Lesser's message that The Threepenny Review wanted to publish it. The moment felt both totally mundane and really significant--much like the memory of the moment examined in the story itself.

(author photo © Kelly Corrigan)


From "Generation," an O. Henry Recommended Story

And he was filled with strange satisfaction at the precision with which language allowed a certain visual imagery that had just occurred to him: Ephemeral, he thought. Diaphanous. Gossamer. He imagined the faulty connection that had tethered the span of the street floating up and up as he was drawn again to the paper at his feet. His girls had rendered him "Dad!" but as they stood silent and staring purposefully down the street, he took up his tea cup and his paper with a premature assumption that they had already re-entered the fold.

He was thinking he should bring the binoculars to the air show that afternoon. Beginning his turn back toward the flat, he thought, Where was that article about the air show in the British countryside? when at the end of the long block, there appeared a green truck.

And he considered "lorry." Why hadn't "lorry" arrived safely and unchanged across the Atlantic? Why "truck" and not "lorry"? And what about the association - lorry, truck, lorry, boot, trunk - stopped. Because, in what felt to him like a stagnant minute under water was actually instantaneous, his girls stepped into the path of a green truck. He went to move, but the truck rushed forward and he stood balancing the tea cup.

He faced the street, stepped forward. Brakes screeched, horns howled, and his wife blurred past him. He set down the cup on the wide banister. She was out in the street and he followed, his children nowhere to be seen.

"Generation" was originally published under the name Kimberly Chisholm. ("Generation" by Kimerly Ford first appeared in The Threepenny Review. Copyright © 2007 by Kimberly Ford. Excerpted by permission of the author.)

About the Author

Kimberly Ford holds a Ph.D. in Spanish and French Literature. Her writing has been published in Moxie; The Believer; Brain, Child; and The Threepenny Review. Her book of non-fiction is Hump: True Tales of Sex After Kids.

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