The genesis of “No One Will Know” was a story my father told me of a cow the Germans took from his great aunt three times. Twice, the cow came back. I started thinking about the legacy of the holocaust, about how even after all the survivors have died it won’t really be over. Only the “during” part ends.
I also wanted to explore loss, and how the feeling of loss is sometimes an attempt to hold onto the thing you’ve lost. Some people seem to develop a loyalty to loss.
What I love most about the short story is that you can do things that you can’t in a novel. Especially the short-short.
Italo Calvino’s “All At One Point,” is one of my favorites. Who would read a whole novel about the fact that all matter and creation used to exist in a single point? But a book of linked stories that each takes a scientific fact and builds an imaginative story around it? Sign me up.
While the story is short it must go to great lengths to make itself important. It doesn’t have time for the conventions of the novel—there aren’t pages enough to make the reader fall head over heels in love with the characters. Instead the language, the ideas, the plot of the short story have to dazzle, and quickly. Urgently. The short story is an affair, a quick fling, a one-night stand. The short story dwells in the biggest of all worlds, that of possibility.