“Kiddush”: The Story Behind the Story

Kiddush” is the opening NewImagechapter of my novel in progress, We, the Rescued. The novel, in an Oulipo-esque fashion, takes its structure from the Passover Haggadah and in a sort of an ontogeny-recapitulates-philogeny fashion, the chapter takes its structure from the first prayer of the Passover Seder, the Kiddush, or blessing over wine. I took the nesting structure one step further in some of the earliest drafts of the story and recapitulated the creation story of Genesis 1 in the opening section of the story (I’ve taken the excised bit and have been shopping that around as a bit of flash with no success as of this writing). This is the only chapter of the planned novel that interacts directly with the text of the Haggadah, using the words of the Kiddush to give form and in many cases to allow the text to make ironic commentary on the prayer.

The structure of the story with the primary narrative in present tense and shifts into past tense for flashbacks is inspired by reading Mario Vargas Llosa’s La Fiesta del Chivo, which does similar things with time. I found the way that it caused the past and present to be intermingled to be a great inspiration towards what I could do with the form.

I’ve received early feedback on this story from writer friends including Jonathan Eig, Katherine Sanger, Justin Sikes, Steve Nelson and Maria Feldman.





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