Bewildering Stories

Jeremiah Job Levine writes about...

The Origins of “Playground Religion”

An e-mail exchange with Jeremiah Levine seems to be of general interest.

Can you tell us what you particularly like about the story? I can think of some reasons, but they may not be the same as yours.

I wrote this one when my daughter was a toddler, and I was spending a lot of time in playgrounds with her. Watching her grow, it seemed like all these things were happening by magic. I would watch her discovering something for the first time, experimenting by putting things in her mouth in most cases. Toddlers don't really connect cause and effect, and I would often think that she probably believed it was all done by magic. This led me to think about different kinds of magic and belief, and the fact that they aren't all that different.

I'm pretty happy with it from a technical standpoint because I hardly ever feel like my short-short stories are complete. Even my relatively simple ideas tend to swell up and mutate, and I am a compulsive explainer. “Playground Religion” started short and stayed short, to my great relief. I think keeping it simple helped keep the focus on the magic.

Does any of that work for you? I'm terrible at discussing my stories. Usually I either over-analyze every little detail, or have no idea what the story was about.


Yes, that’s very good indeed. I’ll include it in our Letters section; what you say is informative, and I’m sure our readers will be interested.

Authors are seldom good critics of their own works; in fact, I can’t think of any who have been. There’s nothing wrong with that; a writer is just too close to what he writes, and readers bring many different viewpoints to the work. I think you’ve done well by concentrating on the origins of the story. The symbolism is probably best left to individual interpretation.

Thanks again for the letter!


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