Robert B. Wyatt's Story Till Now
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About Jam & the Box | New York Village of Highkill | Casting About for Characters
When the unformed and unwritten notions of JAM & THE BOX floated about, there was little to work with in the narrative—just something about a man who had recently lost his wife and something about an unopened box she had left behind. Also there was an unspecified number of friends who would comfort the widower. The friends were to be the center of a book called The Macs.

What kinds of people were The Macs, and how many might there be? They were to be MacIntosh-loving men; women would have other roles in the narrative. That consideration seemed simple.

Since the book was to be about a specific group on the order of The Joy Luck Club or The Jane Austen Book Club, the selection of the number of members was easily made. Seven was determined. Seven seemed workable: not too many, not to few, just right.  Lots of sevens in the seven Harry Potter stories. Also known to be lucky.

But what about the characteristics and personalities of the seven? A central character might be introduced; then others could add their own baggage along the way. That didn’t seem proper. It was lazy, haphazard.

The seven should arrive fully developed with distinct personalities.

The search began, as many searches do nowadays with Wikipedia. The seven deadly sins didn’t sound like much fun. The seven sleepers of early religions would be dull models. The seven samurai and the subsequent magnificent seven didn’t seem quite right for a group of genial Hudson Valley villagers. 

And suddenly the answer arrived in a splash of Technicolor. What better band of character models could there be than Walt Disney’s own magnificent seven?


dwarves2In the novel’s progression, the characteristics laid out in the mnemonic device: “two S’s, two D’s, and three emotions” were abandoned, but certain traits remained. The Macs were given their own lives, issued into the world under Disney disguises.

Sleepy could be Philp, the all-night broadcaster on the radio. Jon was Sneezy for no discernible reason. Jamison was Doc even though the novel’s protagonist was not bossy. Marty as Dopey played the high school kid, who may have been the smartest of the group. The reticent, gigantic Björn was clearly Bashful. Martin, the novelist, was Grumpy in every way. And the joyous, promiscuous Buck could only be Happy. The match-ups were barely parallel but they gave a point of departure for the characters, who in time became their own men, descended from a bunch of colorful celluloid shadows.


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