Fear in Writing: The Story

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Story

Storytelling is one of the oldest traditions in human history.  Can you imagine a world without it?  I don't just mean the rich library of books you have on your shelves.  I don't just mean the words that fill your notebooks and Word documents as you strive for publication.  I mean the stories that make up life.

When you teach a child, you use stories as examples.  When you share your day, you tell the story of it to someone else.  When you share your life with a partner, you make their story a part of yours, joining the two and creating a deeper, more fulfilling story together.

Phone calls.  Songs.  Magazines.  Blog posts.  Jokes.  Emails.  Letters.  Dreams.  Confessions.  Television shows.  Movies.  Plays.

All stories.

I am reading a book right now that is a magically woven story.  It isn't just one story, really, but hundreds pieced together to create the lives of two very different me--one black, one white--in the 19-teens Boston.  It is The Given Day by Dennis Lehane.  You might know Lehane's work.  It is vast and disparate--noir-style mysteries, dramatic tales of human folly, psychological thrillers, historical epics--and all well done.

This book by Lehane shows how every human life is rife with story, full of drama and rich with page-worthy affairs.  One step into the world of Lehane's Bostonian characters and you won't want to step back out.  Correction, you'll constantly cringe and long to flee from the squalor that was inter-war America, but you won't be able to tear your eyes away.  You'll be caught in the story.

Life is a story.  Do you have one in you?


  1. Michele - I love that perspective. It's funny; my husband and I have often said that history classes ought to be taught as a series of stories instead of a list of dates, battles and so on. If we understood history as stories, I'll bet we'd find it much more fascinating, and we'd be much more willing to learn from it.

    And thanks for mentioning the very talented Dennis Lehane.

  2. I have a friend who teaches history as life stories. Her classes are packed -- parents request her for their children and older students want her to move on to the high school levels. This summer she will be a guest lecturer at a Big 10 university. Talk about a Storyteller!

  3. A world without stories would be without heart. Since we're all trying to figure out this crazy existence, we love hearing how others survive and thrive.
    That books sounds wonderful. Thanks for the rec.

  4. I love that stories are so much a part of our lives each day. When my kids tell me about their days at school, I'm hearing a story. :)

  5. Hey Michele,

    I've read a Lehane or two, and agree that his world grabs you and doesn't let go!

    Belated happy birthday!