Hope you are well!
I’m working on a new book now about a storyteller (not me), and as a result, I’ve been thinking about stories and storytelling a lot lately. I’m in a reading group at a local library (the Providence Athenaeum) and we’re reading The Odyssey in the new translation by Emily Wilson. In the discussion last night, Johanna Hanink, the reading group leader, talked about how many of the episodes in Odysseus’s travails were probably “set pieces”, told as stand-alone stories by many different tellers, each in their own way, in many different settings.
All I could think of was my travels over the years, working with many tellers in many different situations, but especially at festivals where there might be six or seven of us performing together. While each of us has our “own” stories, most of us have a group of stories in common that are known throughout the storytelling community. Some version of Cinderella, or a story about Jack. The “Cow Tail Switch” and the “Lion’s Whiskers” from Africa. Any one of us could tell one of them and if we did, they would all vary a little – we would tell them in our own way. I realize that, for all my stories about growing up and falling in toilets and jumping off high dives, I’m part of a tradition that carries stories on. I’ve got six or seven hundred stories in my head. How did they get there? Why are they still there?
And why did the story of Odysseus and the Cyclops Polyphemus survive and get retold for thousands of years? Because it’s a good story. It’s a favorite story in the Odyssey. My friends Kevin Kling and Andy Offutt Irwin both use the story of Polyphemus in their own work and tell it completely differently (and both hilariously). If toilets and high dives survive, maybe someone will find their own way of telling one of my stories years hence. It could happen. Then I’ll be traditional. And no one will know where it started.
A SPECTACULAR SALE!!!
We’ve got books, audiobooks, thumb drives, CDs and other stuff in our house and WE’D RATHER HAVE THEM IN YOURS! We really, truly, honestly, have something for everyone. To aid in this, we’ve come up with some encouragement – A SALE ON (ALMOST) EVERYTHING. This includes all my books, including my latest, NOW YOU SAY YES. We’ve got a special deal with the Charlie Bumpers series – the whole set at a great price AND (what’s behind the curtain?) the audio cds of whatever Charlie Bumpers book you buy (except the last one which we don’t have).
As an added incentive, I’m happy to do a personal inscription to whomever’s getting the book. Yes, that’s right, I’m the Christmas Elf, consigned to personally inscribe each book, cd, or whatever else we can find to send your way. Amazon cannot match this deal!
BUT make sure you get your orders in by Wednesday December 15 for Christmas Gifts. We can’t guarantee delivery but the post office says the earlier the better!
ENOUGH! More soon about other thoughts I’m having. In case you’re interested. In the meantime, be well, be safe. Know that I’m thinking of you and sending my best.