Vincent Reusch, an associate professor of English at Concordia, often wonders how we as human beings continue on with life when, as he puts it, “the rug has been pulled out from underneath of us.” Reusch explores this question in further detail throughout a collection of various fictional stories in his newly published book, “The Mercurial Science of the Human Heart.”
The stories that occupy the pages of his book were written and compiled over the past ten years by Reusch, who explains that he didn’t try to piece stories into a collection until they were connected in some way, whether that be aesthetically or thematically.
“I think that together these stories build a world of their own,” Reusch says. “They see life through similar lenses.” He has written other stories over the years that he greatly likes, but he believes that they just wouldn’t have fit into the “world” created by these particular stories.
Most of the stories collected in “The Mercurial Science of the Human Heart” are about members of domestic relationships who are figuring out how to navigate their lives after experiencing some type of failure or tremendous loss. Characters in a story could be going through a divorce or simply a loss of their way in life. However, despite the heaviness of these subjects, there is no shortage of humor and love present throughout the stories.
According to Reusch, most writers, including himself, write to investigate the topics which they do not comprehend, as they aspire to gain an understanding of it or perhaps to better themselves in the process. He also says that the act of writing allows one to spend ample time focusing and meditating on a single topic, which in turn will result in a deepened insight into oneself and others. Reusch explains that he writes about the things that nag at or frighten him. By writing about these subjects, he hopes that he is able to walk away less unnerved by whatever he was writing about, as it will have sparked a new understanding of himself and his fears.
When Reusch initially starts his writing process, he doesn’t always know where the story will go. He starts with something that has been constantly running through his mind, such as a character or memory, and is usually confident that he will be able to generate content from that specific thought. Reusch believes that there is a certain reason why that thought refuses to leave him alone, and he hopes that writing a story about it will enlighten him by revealing a new question or truth.
Needless to say, Reusch loves to write stories. He says that “story,” which he defines as “creating situations and events that move and grow and take readers on a ride,” comes most naturally to him during his writing process. Stories in “The Mercurial Science of the Human Heart” take readers on a ride by utilizing styles that Reusch describes as being distinguished by “bigger movements” and “grander images.” While most literary writers write stories characterized by subtlety, many of which Reusch admires, Reusch himself has a hard time writing a “quiet” story.
“I think I’m a little childish in that way, but I like to look at things with a kind of open-mouth awe, and I think my stories sometimes reflect that,” Reusch explains.
Reusch hopes that the grandiose stories in his book entertain and occasionally move his audiences while also causing them to contemplate something in their lives. Most importantly, though, he wants readers to feel a connection to some of the stories.
“The Mercurial Science of the Human Heart” is available for purchase at Zandbroz Variety or through online booksellers.