I’m thrilled to get to share this essay at Punchnel’s for a number of reasons. It was inspired by Tim Horvath’s Understories, which if you haven’t read, is a must-read collection by one of the most talented writers out there. His stories are brimming with creativity and there’s a humanism in each of them that helps you to understand a little more about the world around us. Take for example a story that I loved, a shorter one in the collection called, “The Gendarmes.” The premise is the narrator finds a group of people playing baseball on his roof. This piqued my interest, but as it turns out, it gets even more interesting. These gendarmes are actually teaching animals about extinction and survival tactics. It’s a tight story that lingered long on after the initial reading. The same applies to the titular, “The Understory.” Let me quote the first two paragraphs from the essay:
A department studying shadows, a city of only restaurants, Heidegger, my old classes in Berkeley; it’s a potpourri of ideas connected by Tim Horvath’s Understories. Some books inspire, others seize. Understories seizes, shakes, then splits everything open.
I really enjoyed Horvath’s earlier novella, Circulation, which came out a few years back, so I was excited about this full-blown collection and greedily devoured its pages when it came out. The collection is wrapped in a series of urban planning case studies, analyzing the impulses of human nature in its many forms, devious and all too relatable. One story in particular was especially meaningful to me: “The Understory,” which caused a time warp in my brain back to my university days at Berkeley.
It caused a timewarp by sharing a side of Heidegger I’d never even thought about. It’s rare to call a story beautiful, but this one was very moving and it reminded me of my time at Berkeley. Thank you to Editor Ken Honeywell for accepting this piece and equally excited to share with Punchnel’s which has become one of my go-to sports every morning. I hope you’ll enjoy the essay and more importantly, check out the Understories!