Vicky Swanky is a Beauty
McSweeney's Books
Diane Williams
“My First Real Home”

“My First Real Home” is from Diane Williams’s latest collection, VICKY SWANKY IS A BEAUTY (McSweeney’s Books).  She is the author of seven books and her stories have appeared in Harper’s Magazine, Post Road, and elsewhere.  She is founder and editor of the literary journal Noon.


Jonathan Franzen has described her as “one of the true living heroes of the American avant-garde.  Her fiction makes very familiar things very, very weird.”  Ben Marcus has suggested that her “outrageous and ferociously strange stories test the limits of behavior, of manners, of language, and mark [her] as a startlingly original writer worthy of our closest attention.”


Williams had this to say about her story: I make sure the knives and the bladed tools I use remain harmless, practically useless, because I am afraid of anything too sharp.


So, to tell the story behind this story I’d have to reveal what I’d rather not — that I didn’t entirely write this story. I did write down every word that my dear companion Wolfgang Neumann told me.


“In there,” he began, “there was this man who developed a habit of sharpening knives.”


Although I found the subject was worrying, the melody was beautiful, and the man and his wife — Wolfgang said — they lived in comfort!  I’d been summoned.


Wolfgang gestured toward a glade where his friend had lived as we swiftly passed it.  I took out my notebook and my pen, because I wasn’t driving the car  — he was —-


“My First Real Home” — we could call it a true story. (I added some few sentences and words and took some away. I wrote my ending, produced my title.)


To my mind, this is a tale in which good will, marvelous objects, and enterprise are the themes — in which happiness is possible.  I think this tale could qualify as a fairy legend!
But sad to say, it might injure a child.

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