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Segue 9: Fall 2010  ||  Lisa Norris


about the author


Lisa Norris’s book of stories, Toy Guns, won the 1999 Willa Cather Fiction Prize and was published by Helicon Nine Press. Most recently, her stories, essays and poems have been published in Fourth Genre (Fall 2007), Blueline XXXI, the South Dakota Review (Fall 2009), Segue (Fall 2007), Ascent (2010), and Smartish Pace (April 2010) as well as the anthology Kiss Tomorrow Hello: Notes from the Midlife Underground (Doubleday 2006). She is an assistant professor of English at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington.


about the work


Memory inspired the essay, “The Danger is Hardly Greater,” written thirtysome years after the events it describes. I rearranged the piece more than once, looking for meaning and focus. Spilling the drink on Martin’s shirt—seemingly a minor event in memory—became a good way to dramatize character/situation. That became the story’s opening in some late draft (I don’t now recall how many drafts…many, I assure you).

I also struggled with the point of view, eventually deciding to stay closer to the 19-year-old Lisa than to the 50something self who was writing. Reproducing dialogue from so long ago of course required some invention. Many episodes from my “Rock Springs period” are left out, in order to maintain the essay’s focus. That’s always another tough decision to make—what to put in, what to leave out.

I think of myself first and foremost as a storyteller, so for me, both fiction and nonfiction writing are primarily joyful play with narrative. At its best, nonfiction gets me in touch with a wiser self who makes sense of her life in ways that sometimes surprise and delight the bumbler who’s doing the living.


Lisa Norris on the web









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