Catapult | Books

A Conversation With PEN America Best Debut Short Stories 2019 Author Kelsey Peterson

“I think, in pursuit of truth, science and religion still have to wrestle with the strictures of human knowledge, error, pride.”

PEN America Best Debut Short Stories 2019

ConjunctionsWest BranchMeridian



Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician and Christian apologist born in 1623. He was very close with his younger sister, Jacqueline, born in 1625, a poet who became a nun. Both were considered prodigies.


I saw a perfect circle today. The yellow disk at the center of an anemone bloomed early and whose white petals had curled back in the wind. I marveled at its humble perfection, springing forth from some superabundance of the unrelenting spring. I am curious if there is an equation for such a flower, the formula to project its arcs and angles, its radii and planes. But I think: What an excessive, joyful thing. Let us smell it and give glory to God.


Printed in the Gazette today there was a poem of some merit, and I wondered if you still write. To harness the imagination to your whimsy—it’s a dangerous, even dangerously useless gift, but you had have it.