Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Truth About Stories


The Truth About Stories
by Thomas King

I decided to read a book that was recommended to me at the NASPA Conference this year as I have always been interested in the art of storytelling.  So picking up The Truth About Stories by Thomas King was a no-brainer for me.  King is a Native American and discusses the history and importance of story-telling as a form of education and community-bonding among his families.  Storytelling has been long associated with the Native American community, and King begins with the story of “how the world began” and the who influenced his storytelling.  I love this statement from him in particular: “the truth about stories is that that’s all we are… through my language, I understand I am being spoken to, I’m not the one speaking.  The words are coming from many tongues and mouths of the people from the land around them….”  He shares that “you’ll never believe what happened” is a phrase that captures the listener and begins the storytelling journey.  King notes, “we have choices, a world in which creation is a solidary, individual act or a world in which creation is a shared activity… a world that begins in harmony and slides toward chaos or a world that begins in chaos and moves toward harmony; a world marked by competition or a world determined by cooperation.”  That is our dilemma.  The series of chapters (essays) examines the role of oral presentation through history and how it is linked to the culture of the Native people.  King divulges personal hardships in drawing the reader into his philosophy, from a colleague who commits suicide, to an adopted child who is physically challenged, to how family members are removed from their community, all with special meaning that needs to be evoked in the story.  He has a talent to draw the reader into his life and the unique lives of the Native people.  I have much to learn from enhancing my skills as a storyteller from readings of an educator who has dedicated his life to listening and bringing to life people who have crossed his path.  A book well worth reading.

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