Wednesday, December 29, 2010

McPhee's True Story Scale

From an interview with John MikPhee in the current issue of Le Paris Review:

INTERVIEWER: When did you first start to think about devoting yourself to writing?

MCPHEE: There weren’t any very early signs. My biggest preoccupation in childhood was sports, mostly sports you could play with a ball. My father was a doctor of sports medicine, and Princeton was his employer. As I was growing up, we lived very close to the campus, and in the afternoons I would go with him to the university sports practices—football, basketball, baseball. I hung around a lot of football players who were ten or fifteen years older than I was. After a while they made a Princeton shirt for me with orange and black stripes on it, just like the big guys had. I was number thirty-three.

INTERVIEWER: Who made the shirt for you?

MCPHEE: The same company that made the shirts for the varsity football team. It was presented to me when I was eight, and I wore it for a few seasons. When a football game started, I would run onto the field with the team. I was on the sidelines during these games. Away games too. When Princeton scored a touchdown, I went behind the goalpost and caught the extra point. One miserable November day I was down there on the sideline, wet, cold. And I looked up to the top of the stadium, and there was the press box. Shelter! I knew they had heaters in there with them, and these people were sitting there in complete comfort while we’re miserable down here on the field. They’re writing, they’re typing, and they’re warm. Then and there I decided to become a writer. Now that story, which I have often told, is about three to five percent apocryphal. The rest of it is absolutely true.

TSS: 95-97%

[Thank you, Chris Michel!]

1 comment:

Bryan said...

Three to five percent apocryphal for childhood stories is on the happy side of the margin of error.

TSS: Burnt siena