In 7th grade, Cheever’s The Swimmer introduced me to the world of short stories. In the following month, I read the story about 17 times. I can still remember Neddy flying down his wooden banister and being snubbed by the bartender at Grace Biswanger’s pool. Whenever I fly into JFK airport, I can’t help noticing the zigzagging maze of suburban pools.
I didn’t appreciate the word zigzag until Schulz’s Street of Crocodiles. After that, I used it in quite a few of my stories: He sporadically cut the noise short while zig-zagging up and down some imaginary musical scale. She wandered in zig-zags until the excitement melted from her face.
One of the first stories I wrote was about a boy memorizing the lines for Waiting for Godot. I mimicked The Swimmer and made the hour seem like a lifetime.
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