Native Companion is a hybrid of two people, neither of whom were, as he claimed, his prom date at Urbana High School. His actual friend at the fair was Kymberly Harris, daughter of Charlie and Victoria Harris, colleagues and mentors of his in the English Department at ISU. (In a letter to the writer David Markson, Wallace called Victoria Harris, “the goodest of good eggs.”) But the vim and vulgar vigor of N.C.’s voice was all Mary Karr. Karr’s East Texas lilt is a stand-in for the more rural elements of downstate Illinois. Wallace had a serious romantic relationship with each woman at different points in his life.