book by Amy Sedaris

Wigfield: The Can-Do Town That Just May Not (2003) is a satirical novel by comedians Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello and Stephen Colbert. The book tells the story of a small town threatened by the impending destruction of a massive dam. The narrative is presented as a series of fictional interviews with the town's residents, with photos by American fashion designer Todd Oldham.


  • Words cannot describe all the things that I have left to write.
  • Dedication: As this book, including this dedication, was written in chronological order, I have, so far only myself to thank. This is assuming I will continue to be involved.
  • I worked for the Federal Department of Transportation, painting the center lines on interstates. It was rewarding work, with the added benefit of being unchallenging. But following a heated dispute with my foreman over the meaning of the word sick day, I quit my job shortly after he fired me. But freedom has its price, which I soon found out was money. So, much like a butcher naturally becomes a surgeon, or a boxer becomes a cop, I decided to apply my knowledge of drawing long, white lines on asphalt to drawing much shorter ones with loops and curls on paper. In short, words. I became a writer!
  • My book would be written from the heart, probably my own. I would talk about how the death of Small-Town America brings great pain to me because I had always had an appreciation for these tiny villages. For who doesn't feel a fondness for a place where you know all your neighbors, and you can keep your doors unlocked, or you could enter your neighbors' home at night because you know his doors are unlocked?
  • What I learned made me angry. What I read made me sleepy.
  • I had been on the road for what seemed like weeks but was probably closer to days, more specifically hours.
  • Wigfield, said the sign. Wigfield's Hottest Ladies. I was intrigued. When was it incorporated? What was its population? And just how hot were these ladies?

  • I read the signs hanging in storefront windows hoping a tale of drama would emerge: Dam Being Torn Down Sale! declared the first. Everything Must Go Before the Dam is Torn Down and Town is Destroyed, trumpeted another. Preflood Sale, screamed a third. Then, like a golfer playing the back nine trying to finish before the heavy stuff comes down, I was struck by a lightning bolt. My God! That's it! That's my story... SMALL TOWNS ARE A BARGAIN HUNTER'S DREAM!

Chapter One

  • To compensate for their skittishness around one another, humans have developed an elaborate system of body language. Folded arms, for instance, may signal that the subject is closed off and wishes for the conversation to end, or that he is an Indian chief. Either way, avoid these people. A woman with her legs splayed wide may be saying "Welcome. How do you do?" or "I am adventurous and open to new ideas." Either way, seek these women out.
  • Having never written a book before, I had no way to gauge the time it would take to complete a 50,000 word tome. And then the realisation hit me: I could be at this for days!

Udell and Eleanor Grimmett

  • Eleanor: We were married by the justice the next week...
Udell: And we've been married ever since, and here's the secret: A wife has to be respected like a living thing.
  • Udell: There's no need to make a major case out of it. Every small town has its shortcomings. Some small towns have a problem with the kids running off the the big city, other small towns might have worries about a drought affecting the crops, one of ours just happens to be a mindless killing machine who feeds on our fear.

Chapter Two


Donnie Larson

  • It's like we're family except we're not related, we didn't grow up together and we don't spend any time with each other. It makes you feel safe to know that if I needed a shovel or some lime, just down the road a bit is a neighbor I could take it from. Just because I don't know a lot of these people's names doesn't mean I won't ask them for things. That's the beauty of this town: neighbors who have things I want.
  • Yes, I was in the service. Yes, I was stationed overseas. Yes, I was dishonorably discharged. And no, I don't want to talk about it. Here's what happened: I didn't know she was one of ours. I certainly didn't know she was an officer. And I meant no disrespect when I offered to treat us to her.
  • I know how to drive, I mean, I got my operator's license, I just choose not to drive. I guess I'm afraid if I drive people might get hurt. And people would get hurt, that's pretty much been proven to my satisfaction. I'm not proud of it. I'll say that to anybody. I'm the first to admit that I should be nowhere near a powered vehicle. But my operator's licence says different, so occasionally all hell breaks loose.

Chapter Three



  • What will happen to me? I mean, if they flood the town and I'm forced to leave, how am I supposed to move my mobile home?
  • People can't help what they don't know. "I can't help the starving people of India, because I don't know what they need.'
  • I have a simple philosophy: KOKO! Which stands for Keep On Keepin' On. You know? Keep on living, even if it kills you.
  • If you get burned by your stove, don't keep touching it, get rid of it!
  • I keep a diary. I been keepin' a diary since I was fourteen years old. Writing in a diary is like a muscle, you have to do it every day or you could easily pull it. Even if I don't have anything to say, I write: "Dear diary, I don't have anything to say today, maybe tomorrow." Sometimes I get tired of writing the same thing, so instead I might write, "Dear diary, nothing coming today, I'll see you tomorrow."

Chapter Four

  • I begin to search my dresser for clothes until I realize I left them hanging on my body.

Hoyt Gein

  • Think about it: I haven't.
  • Yes, I occasionally start fires when I'm out at a social event, but so what? Who doesn't? It's a free country. I have complete control over my desire to unleash the flickering golden god.
  • It turns out it's pretty hard to exercise your right to vote when you're on fire.
  • Top of my list is to find out who's killing all these people. I have already narrowed down the list of Mr. or Mrs. Murderer or Murderers. The second thing we need to do is establish a profile of the perp. Now, my investigation has show that the victims were killed by a blunt trauma to the back of the head or stabbing or shooting or poisoning or burning or... did I say shooting? This is often followed by dismemberment. Or preceded. It's really hard to tell after a while. But clearly this is a person who is a local and familiar to everyone or a stranger just passing through whose movements remain a mystery.

Charles Halstead

  • I like being a lawyer. It makes me proud. I have a briefcase. I keep my fudge in there.
  • I came to this town to represent the lead dispersal plant. The government wanted to close it because they said it was retarding the employees. So they closed it. I got a court order that allowed me to stay at the plant so I could disprove firsthand the effects of the plant. I like watches; they're shiny.

Chapter Five


Burchal Sawyer

  • I'm the great American success story. One day you're livin' out of your car, the next day you're livin' out of your car, and you're the mayor of a town. I practically run this place, and I'm not even fully unpacked.
  • Now, a lot of people ask me how I acquired so many abandoned cars in such a small community. Well, the answer is simple. It's none of their goddamn business. And I resent the implication that I am murdering people for their cars, if that is indeed what they are implying, which would make perfect sense because, let's face it, how am I getting all these cars? I just want this community to rest assured that there are probably plenty of ways to get around killing people for their cars.

Chapter Six

  • Surrounding all this was a high barbed-wire fence, inside of which stood a cadre of snarling canines. But following the old adage that a snarling dog never bites, I scaled the fence, dropped to the ground, and enjoyed a brief mauling. I quickly occupied the dog's snapping jaws with my limbs to buy some time until I could figure out what to do with all this pain.

Carla Port Hollinger

  • Sorry about the dogs. My dad says they only attack in the presence of people.
  • And of course there're those stories about the Wigfield Maniac, how thre's a madman in town, but I don't believe it's real. I think somebody is killing folks just to scare people.

Chapter Seven


Lenare Degroat

  • Animals think they are so superior to us. They pretend to act so innocent, all furry and frolicsome, but when we're not looking, they mock us. As I cut away the skin from a deer's skull, I always think, "Who's laughing now?" Usually it's me.
  • Most folks in the city don't understand nature. They live in their concrete buildings, on their concrete streets, fucking their concrete wives. They're not around trees and rocks that taunt them all the time. Well, maybe a place like this doesn't mean much to city folks, but it means something to us- even if the squirrels make sport of me behind my back.
  • Most animals are just waiting for their chance to take a swipe at a human. It's in their nature. They're animals. That's why we call them that. They don't have souls. They don't have nothing to fear in the afterlife. They have nothing to lose!
  • A hummingbird would gladly peck your eyes out. It would amuse it. It would hover above your eye socket sucking out your eye juice like nectar and throw it back up to its waiting hungry children! I'm not making this stuff up, I'm imagining it.
  • And another thing: Naturalistic poses. Frolicking in some moss. Holding a nut. What's the point of that? If you wanted this squirrel to hold a nut, then why did you lock yourself in mortal combat with it? That's why I like to capture the last moment before the animal gives up the ghost. You can almost feel the fear rising off it like a stink. I don't coddle my dead animals.
    • On taxidermy.
  • One of the things I do [at the morgue] is to make sure all the bodies that come in are dead. Here's my test: I just do things to them that no living human would allow, and if they don't react, then I know they're dead. And if they do react, well, the severity of the test usually makes that moot.

Chapter Eight

  • Two things became clear after speaking to Lenare Degroat: One, steer clear of Lenare Degroat.

Mae Ella Padgett

  • I've spent every one of my forty-eight years right here in Wigfield, except for the times I've been incarcerated or living elsewhere.
  • It's a funny thing about Shell Knob state confineatentuary, when you look out into the yard, you see so many of the ladies from Wigfield, you would swear you were at one of the town picnics! I suppose the only difference is, in Wigfield, we don't have armed guards on top of our electrified fences...
  • We have a strong sense of tradition here in Wigfield. We're one of the only towns that still celebrates V-J Day. For you young 'uns, that stands for victory over the Japanese! It's a joyous celebration. It's a time when the town comes together and remembers how many gave away their lives to nobly advance the cause of liberty, but mostly it's a good way to get together to remember how much we hate the Japanese. We hate Koreans, too!

Chapter Nine


Julian Childs

  • More than ever the theater is the lifeblood of a community, but it's more than that. It's all the fluids, blood, semen, urine, and saliva. If I don't leave that combination of liquids onstage after a performance, then I know I have dropped the ball and let my audience down.
  • [Rabbits] are industrious, they are dedicated, and they are delicious!

Chapter Ten

  • My brain had shut down and the only way to revitalize it was to get some serious R&R, and by R&R I meant, of course, T&A.


  • When I first heard about the dam being torn down I was on a three-day X freak-out, so I was mostly just amused. Three days later I was pretty tired and after that I was unconscious, but now I'm just taking it one day at a time, you know, just trying to figure out what I was saying. What was the question?
  • You don't own me motherfucker.
  • I could easily describe Wigfield in three words, but I don't know what they would be.

Chapter Eleven

  • As I held The History of Wigfield in my hands, fiddling with its well-worn cover, I anticipated the wealth of information it must contain. I excitedly cracked open the cover and the words seemed to leap right off the page and land directly in my book in identical sequence!

Chapter Twelve


Dillard Rankin

  • If there's one thing I've learned, it's you can't un-fry things.
  • As I'm sure you can tell by my body adornment, I am an Artist of Doom. Cast your gaze into my bicep if you dare, there you will find a tattoo of chaos and destruction. Go ahead, if you wish to stare into the lair of oblivion. But beware: Once ensnared, there is no escape from my upper arm.

Chapter Thirteen

  • I searched frantically for someone, anyone who could translate it for me, but everywhere I looked were just mirrors in which my own hideous laughing face was reflected. I cried, "How will I ever finish this book?" And then I knew the terrifying answer. I would have to write it.
    • Russell has a chilling nightmare.
  • My plan was simple. Stay calm and stay in control of what was becoming an increasingly dangerous situation. In order to implement my plan, I launched into phase one: begging for my life.

High Priestess Thea

  • Most people think witches are a coven of lesbians dancing naked in the forest celebrating the semen stolen from imprisoned hypnotized males, which they then use to inseminate one another using turkey basters in order to create a legion of demon babies. Well, that's only part of it. We are also active in community outreach programs.
  • Sometimes this place is like Old Salem, hunting for witches because of ignorance. If only they'd reach out and try to understand what we're about, we wouldn't feel compelled to place curses on them.
  • The philosophies behind witch and a wiccan are totally different. A wiccan wears ceremonial black robes and invites her body to be inhabited by an evil spirit that commands her to perform tasks of mayhem and destruction. A witch, on the other hand, can wear anything she wants.

Chapter Fourteen


Dottie Fore

  • I remember not far back, I got some dogs to take care of and some chickens to take care of and the dogs killed my chickens, so I got rid of the dogs and got some more chickens, and wouldn't you know it? I killed the chickens. I guess I judged those dogs pretty harshly.
  • And Wigfield is small. It's so small that we have to go to the post office for a haircut, and they always lose it.

Dr. Raja Chuhas

  • I love Wigfield. It reminds me of the quaint little town in Pakistan called Gujurat, where I spent much of my early career. Like Wigfield, they understood the value of human life. So very few people are willing to put a price on it.
  • But my policy is never to turn a customer away. Some doctors might tell their client, "What you're asking me to do might be dangerous to your health," or "If this leaks inside your breast it's going to cause major problems," but I don't say those things. I'm not here to judge.
  • I don't ask them questions and they don't ask me things like "What college did you go to?" ir "Why don't you display your license on the side of the van?" or "Are these tools clean?"

Chapter Fifteen

  • Me: What are your plans after the book is published?
Me: A series of long vacations, punctuated by a number of illicit affairs.
  • Russell interviews himself.
  • Me: That's it! This interview is definitely over! I'm not going to be ambushed by somebody who I happen to know has a few skeletons of his own in his closet, and they are wearing some pretty dirty laundry.
Me: You're bluffing.
Me: Am I?
Me: I don't believe you.
Me: Really? Who's Helen.
Me: I don't know any Helen.
Me: Really, well, maybe I'll give her a little jingle and see if she knows you.
Me: You wouldn't dare!
Me: Try me. I'm a desperate man.
Me: I guess this interview is over.

Ennis Chisolm

  • I guess I've got my pet theories about who [the Wigfield Maniac is], but in each one, the finger always points back to me, so I tend to keep them to myself. Maybe I committed the murders so I'd have something to write about. See what I mean?

Chapter Sixteen


Fleet Hollinger

  • The fact is, I'm just a small-town businessmayor, what can I do?
  • I'm sure you are who you say you are and that you will represent me in a way befitting the tragic consequences if you don't.
  • Our heels are dug in, and we are not going anywhere until the state can explain to us financially why we should leave, which we won't, ever! We would just like to hear their offer.

Chapter Seventeen

  • Me: Question number one: Do you enjoy destroying lives?
Farber: I don't understand the question.
Me: I'll put down yes.
  • Me: Well, Mr. Farber, as you know, I'm writing a book about this situation. I am merely an objective third party trying to record the facts as they happen, but I would like to state, for the record, that I hope you are served such a crushing defeat by the judge that your wife is embarrassed to be seen in public with you, and your children are taunted and then chased from school by kids screaming "Your daddy is a failure!" Thank you for your time, and best of luck.

Chapter Eighteen

  • Mr. Gein: I'd bet you two would burn like a gin-soaked hobo.
Judge Coleman: Mr. Gein, kindly put away those matches.

Chapter Nineteen


Chapter Twenty


Chapter Twenty-One


Chapter Twenty-Two


Chapter Twenty-Three

  • I'm an outcast. Nobody will talk to me. It's just like The Scarlet Letter, the only difference being that my isolation is due to narrow-minded people refusing to think as individuals condemning an innocent without having accurate information. In The Scarlet Letter, the woman is shunned because she is a harlot. She deserved what she got. I think she came onto a priest or something.
  • For my money, it was hard to be excited about libraries until they started checking out movies. I can't wait until the switch-over is complete. What better way to show the obsoleteness of a book than by setting it next to a DVD? I'm glad libraries are leading the charge against books.
  • People are refusing my requests for interviews and lodging. Last night, at what I considered to be a diner, the homeowner refused to serve me. The once affable strippers used to seem pleased when I tucked a little something inside their G-strings, now they insist that something be money. This isn't about me. I'm just worried about the town and what it's not doing for me.

Chapter Twenty-Four


Donnie Larson

  • I love to party, that's not a crime, although I have done some time as a result, but that's not a crime either.

Lenare Degroat

  • God, animals are stupid. They will do anything I force them to.

Chapter Twenty-Five


Chapter Twenty-Six


Chapter Twenty-Seven

  • The reason America's small towns are disappearing is this... 50,000! I've hit 50,000! If you'll forgive me for a moment, I just need to catch my breath. Okay, I'm gathering myself. I decided to go back and do a word count, and I've passed 50,000! Take that, Hyperion! I bet you thought I'd never finish! Now pay up!


  • I would like to dedicate this book to all the good people in charge of nominating books for the Pulitzer Prize. Now, I don't know exactly who you people are, but I do know that whoever hands out those Pulitzer Prizes is on the stick. They are a sharp crowd who I would wager are also very attractive. So once again, kudos to the whole Pulitzer crew. They do a great job, and by saying this I mean to take none of the glory away from the wonderful men and women working at the National Book Award. Thank you.

Quotes about Wigfield

  • To me, Wigfield is a deeply funny, refreshingly original book, but to be fair, it is the first book I've ever read.

See also

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