Winter 2003 • Vol. XXV No. 1 NonfictionJanuary 1, 2003 |

A Writer’s Harvest

What if I wrote a story and it had in it the word "jickjacking"—as in "jickjacking around," an activity I first encountered recently in a story in the New Yorker and then, the way things do happen, there it was again in a story by David Foster Wallace, whom I was about to meet for the first time. The jickjacking in the first story was part of Mary Karr's childhood, which took place presumably in a world where actual jickjacking happened. So she used the word with authority, even though now her name associates with a distinctly metropolitan publication. She still has those fertile roots—verbally, I mean. The second jickjacking was in a very short story that was written in the voice of someone I guess from the same roots (but I guess not David Wallace's, since his authority is different from Mary Karr's), those roots, I mean, in that great American somewhere of fertile and colorful and vaguely illiterate but dead-on accurate phrasing. A boy's voice, an observant voice you drop

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Patricia Vigderman
Patricia Vigderman’s most recent book is The Real Life of the Parthenon (Ohio State University Press, 2018). She is the author of Possibility: Essays Against Despair (Sarabande, 2013) and The Memory Palace of Isabella Stewart Gardner (Sarabande, 2007). She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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