Winter 1999, Volume 16.2
When Neila Seshachari invited me to guest-edit a special issue of Weber Studies devoted to personal narrative, I was intrigued. Immediately we decided to interpret the genre rather loosely, a decision with which Sherwin Howard fortunately agreed when he stepped in as the current editor of Weber Studies. The result is the rather eclectic group of essays, stories, and poems before you now.
James Houston and John Daniel provide useful direction markers into this terrain in the essays they have contributed here. "Words are the basic tools," Houston writes, following with the inevitable questions: "But why? Why do you choose one set of tools rather than another?" Daniel declares that "few can resist the impulse to make a good story better," adding, "Actually, none of us can resist, because memory itself alters and elaborates…. Memory itself is a fabricator, a spinner of yarns, a poet and a liar." How do we pick up those basic tools, and where do we find those "good stories" we cannot resist making better? Explicitly and implicitly, this collection of writings responds to those questions.
In the works gathered here we have very distinct examples of talented craftsmen working with those "basic tools" to remember, fabricate, elaborate, and spin remembrance and imagination into art. The process is fascinating, the results more so.
I want to thank Neila Seschachari for providing me with the opportunity to associate with such a fine gathering, and I wish to extend that gratitude to Sherwin Howard for continuing Neila’s work with enthusiasm, insight, and skill.