by Sam Hieb
I’d intended for Vern to represent a universal hick: a mountain hillybilly in Washington state or eastern Ohio, a cornshucker in Nebraska, a sodbuster in Illinois, all places I have lived and know well.
The universal hick is an archetype. I thought that the manner with which I presented Vern’s speech reflected that archetype, and that readers would see him as a mere device.
It didn’t work. I tripped on that most important lodestar for any writer or journalist: Know your audience.
Only conclusion we can make here is Gauger knew those audiences about as well as he knew the one in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. Maybe he’ll actually get to know his audience when he moves on down to write for peach farmers in Georgia or boilermakers in Alabama.