Stories were different, though: they came alive in the telling. Without a human voice to read them aloud, or a pair of wide eyes following them by flashlight beneath a blanket, they had no real existence in our world...They could take root in the imagination and transform the reader. Stories wanted to be read, David's mother would whisper. They needed it. It was the reason they forced themselves from their world into ours. They wanted us to give them life.
We rely upon the poets, the philosophers, and the playwrights to articulate what most of us can only feel, in joy or sorrow. They illuminate the thoughts for which we only grope; they give us the strength and balm we cannot find in ourselves. Whenever I feel my courage wavering, I rush to them. They give me the wisdom of acceptance, the will and resiliance to push on.
He thought of trying to explain something he had recently noticed about himself: that if anyone insulted him, or one of his friends, he didn't really mind--or not much, anyway. Whereas if anyone insulted a novel, a story, a poem that he loved, something visceral and volcanic occurred within him. He wasn't sure what this might mean--except perhaps that he had got life and art mixed up, back to front, upside down.
Well, it seems to me that there are books that tell stories, and then there are books that tell truths... The first kind, they show you life like you want it to be. With villains getting what they deserve and the hero seeing what a fool he's been and marrying the heroine and happy endings and all that... But the second kind, they show you life more like it is... The first kind makes you cheerful and contented, but the second kind shakes you up.
Everybody is a story. When I was a child, people sat around kitchen tables and told their stories. We don't do that so much anymore. Sitting around the table telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way the wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering.
When we're the story, when we're part of it, we can't know the outcome. It's only later that we think we can see what the story was. But do we ever really know? And does anybody else, perhaps, coming along a little later, does anybody else really care? ... History is written by the survivors, but what is that history? That's the point I was trying to make just now. We don't know what the story is when we're in it, and even after we tell it we're not sure. Because the story doesn't end.