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Smoke & Mirrors with Kyra Baldwin

Interview by Karen Craigo (Read the Story) June 22, 2020

Kyra Baldwin

Kyra Baldwin

You’ve captured in this story how fraught that time is when a baby is on the way and you have no idea what the hell you’re going to do with it when it gets there—a bouncing baby bundle of everything that can go wrong. How’d you manage to nail that exact feeling?

I appreciate you saying that because I’m not a parent! I imagine one of the ways to look at pregnancy is as a very high-stakes deadline. Whatever mental or material preparation you have to do, you have nine months. No extensions, no excuses. While I’m sure it is also an emotionally transcendent experience, it’s very logistical. I wanted to explore the almost procedural, administrative stress of preparing for a baby.

You chose to tell the story from the father-to-be’s perspective. Why was that?

I wanted the slight feeling of it coming from an outsider. For the duration of the pregnancy, something is building between a mother and child that the father is not privy to. If I was a father, I imagine this would drive me crazy and I would want to overcompensate in some way. I wanted to explore the insecurity of that perspective. 

The love that the dad-to-be lists seems so perfect to me. Am I missing something? Why doesn’t it work?

I was watching a lot of romcoms and reading a lot of YA romance novels at the time of this story and I kept noticing this trend where at some pivotal moment, the male character would list the things he loved about the woman and they would all be these tiny, mostly physical quirks. Over time, this started to seem like a copout to me, a way of demonstrating a superficial care that didn’t take into account the substantial reasons we love someone: character, courage, intelligence. I wanted Peter to struggle with the fact that when he thinks of Erica, he thinks of her small ears and her hiccupping laugh, but knows in some way that this is not enough. Marriage doesn’t survive because of the way our partner’s charms disarm us and marriage is the question Peter is contemplating. It needs a foundation, it needs a partnership, it needs planning.

More generally speaking, why is love so horrible?

This made me laugh! I think love is horrible because of the “mortifying ordeal of being known,” which is basically a meme at this point, but is nonetheless true. We can never be fully understood and this is the elemental tragedy. However, to achieve any love or intimacy at all, we must submit to the process of being known, a process which stops and starts and fails continually. We will always be disappointed, but what’s the alternative? Be a conscientious objector to love? Safe and lonely? I think I’d rather be reckless and loved.

Say something to make it all better.

About love? Um, I will try! While love can be awkward and clunky and profoundly unsatisfying, it consists only of moments, all strung up in a line. And while some of these moments will be terrible or boring, a select few will be near-perfect. You stay and fight because of the moments where you catch yourself intuitively, unconsciously happy. And these moments always come. Right when you don’t believe they ever will.

About the Author

Krya Baldwin is an MFA student at Columbia University. She has been previously published in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Reductress, and The Squawk Back.

About the Interviewer

Karen Craigo is a poet with two full-length collections from Sundress Publications, and she also writes fiction and essays. She works as a business reporter for the Springfield Business Journal in Springfield, Missouri, where she lives with her husband, the fiction writer Michael Czyzniejewski, and their two sons.

This interview appeared in Issue Sixty-Eight — The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction 2020 of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Sixty-Eight — The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction 2020
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