“Cypress Knees” by Jay Allison is one of those radio stories that’s hard to describe. Even Jay kinda, sorta stumbled over explaining it when I spoke with him about the story a few years ago. In short, you might say it’s a sonic, poetic study of hardship, memory, and death.
That’s a pretty ethereal description for a story. Not something an editor would know what to do with if you pitched the story that way. Editors typically like something much more concrete.
But, Jay says “concreteness” leaves out a lot of great stories that are hard to pin down when you explain them but genius when you listen to them. “Cypress Knees” is clearly the latter.
Additionally, the story falls into a category of storytelling Jay likes to call “slow radio” – stories that take their time and create their own “psychic space,” as Jay puts it. Transom has several examples of slow radio. For more slow radio listening, check out the series that originally featured “Cypress Knees” — “The Life Stories Collection.”