by David D. Horowitz.
That pitcher came from nowhere to dominate the league—two no-hitters in one season, setting team strikeout and ERA records, and leading his team to the championship. What’s his story? Where’d he grow up, and who helped him develop his skills?
You mean she was fired? I knew something was up. I hadn’t seen her for two weeks. Now I understand. Or, sort of…. Do you know why she was let go? What did she do? What’s the story?
No one thought she’d win the election! I mean, she polled two percent at the beginning of the campaign season. What did she do to achieve such results? What’s the story? What we can learn from her success?
He shot and killed three people and then himself!? I knew him several years ago; he seemed a bit standoffish, and he’d wear a studded black leather jacket with a scowling white face emblazoned on the back, but I couldn’t imagine him shooting people! What happened to him? What’s the story? How can I recognize a violence-prone person to prevent recurrence of similar incidents?
Ask Grandpa to tell you about when he ran naked at midnight to his neighbor’s house to warn him a cougar was prowling their neighborhood! I don’t want to give it away. It’s hilarious! Let him tell you in all its rich detail!
And then, just like in some corny Hollywood flick or dime store romance novel, they got back together again. I have no idea why—but if someone tells you the story, please let me know!
Just now, son, you were rude to your Aunt Molly. Do you know she’s a cancer survivor? She suffered through chemotherapy for two years, and the cancer could return. Did you know she helped pay for your new bicycle? I want you to apologize to her—but first I want you to learn about her story, to appreciate all she’s been through.
I’ve heard over the years various literary critics declare fiction dead. I’ve heard others announce literature is merely self-reflexive language, that it cannot correlate to a physical world beyond words and that nothing can be learned from it. Well, if that is so, why do millions of people still love to hear and tell stories and to write and read novels, biographies, and creative non-fiction? Human beings might or might not be deemed “rational,” “creative,” or “romantic” animals. We do seem, though, to remain “story” animals. Stories help give voice to history, deepen shared tribal bonds, inform myths inspiring heroic emulation, salvage wisdom from tragedies, amuse us during a difficult day, sharpen our perception, and re-experience joys. Stories help us explore and learn about fascinating characters, and, like history (the ultimate story), they help us interpret experience as a series of complete or semi-complete arcs, with cautions gleaned from examining various kinds of risk. And stories can deepen empathy: these are not mere facts but details about people, living creatures, and landscapes, each with a story distinctive as a fingerprint. And, each, like a voice, can enchant and enrich when embellished by the storyteller’s art.