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Blog

John Matthew Fox's "Requiem for a Daughter"

Guest Blogger

John Matthew Fox joins the blog to share how he came to write "Requiem for a Daughter," the Editor's Choice in fiction that will be appearing in Relief 4.1.

I wrote "Requiem for a Daughter" in 2005, or maybe it was earlier, or later.  It depends whether you count the living, the thinking, the drafting, or the revision.  Deborah Eisenberg said that she took eight years to write the eight stories in her collection, "The Twilight of the Superheroes," and even though I'd like to be faster, there's a process you can't rush.

For this story, the tri-part structure of the college, daughter, and student arrived at once, in my first draft, but the rest took more effort.  After I'd had it down for a few years, I rewrote it as a short screenplay, and reimagining it in a different medium helped me better understand the story.

The ending--with the bittersweet dialogue--was influenced by Krzysztof Kieslowski's "Decalogue," specifically film two in the ten-part series, where a doctor confronts a moral dilemma.  Kieslowski's last lines shoehorn an enormous amount of emotional complexity into few words.  Of all my influences from film, he's made the biggest impact--I watch "The Decalogue" and his trilogy "Three Colors" on an annual basis.