Issue 09 / 1998


9 / The Universal Chord

Collective truths

What is the magic touch that turns an incident into a work of literature? As this issue demonstrates, it takes more than a fascinating event in the course of someone’s life to generate a true work of art. The pieces in this issue were chosen because they strike a “universal chord”—a meaning and a feeling that resonates with the larger human experience. These essays epitomize the way the skilled narrative nonfiction author turns the private into the public, the personal and mundane into something universal and meaningful.

Megan Foss illustrates her journey from despondency and heroin addiction, through prison, and eventually to university and graduate school; A. D. Coleman’s “Sea Changes” documents a day on the Staten Island Ferry and how the extraordinary can sometimes lay hidden among the ordinary; Brian Doyle tells of a short but profound moment in his life when his past, future, and destiny seem to blend together in seamless harmony. These narratives show how events in everyday life can slowly build into meaning beyond themselves.

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