Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Autobiography

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Autobiography

Article excerpt

And what if every word you'd ever written were given back to you on your deathbed, printed out, hole-punched, and collated in a three-ring binder, beginning with those early Saturday mornings when you'd practiced your name in crayon on the backs of envelopes, grocery lists, or paper bags-on scraps of anything, some letters backwards, some illegible. This is where every writer begins, practicing his name. Next would be what? Perhaps the word LOVE at the bottom of a greeting card your father gave your mother in 1976 in order to console her and ask for some kind of forgiveness for his few irrelevant sins, and then the spelling books of kindergarten in which next to a jelly pot you wrote the word JAM, next to the line drawing of a beagle you wrote the word DOG, then GIRL and BOY and so until suddenly, you could not think without letters and punctuation-without the surprised eyebrows of apostrophes and commas, the open-mouth of exclamation, or the full stop sitting there like a rock fallen onto the road of sentences. …

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