Spring 1994 • Vol. XVI No. 2 NonfictionApril 1, 1994 |

New Perceptions on Rhythm in Reginald McKnight’s Fiction

In an informal lecture given at Vermont College two summers ago, Reginald McKnight discussed the origin of a folktale that he used in his novel I Get on the Bus. Evan, a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, is ill with malaria. While recovering in a villager's hut, Evan is told a folktale. McKnight, too, contracted malaria while traveling in Africa and spent some time recovering in a hospital. Each afternoon a nurse would sit by McKnight and tell him stories in her native tongue, a language McKnight did not understand. In writing a similar scene for his character, McKnight said he drew upon the comforting rhythms and sounds he remembered the nurse having made. What is startling about this insight into McKnight's writing process is his dependence on rhythm and sound as a way into the text. Oftentimes when one discusses the making of fiction, the focus becomes that of setting, plot, character, and structure. Yet McKnight would have the reader consider the textual reality of a piece,

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