Monday, November 19, 2012

Telling Stories

The public is hungry for stories. The National Football League (NFL) is overwhelmingly successful because it tells stories. It tells stories leading up to games, and has plotlines that last throughout the season. How will the different abilities of Tim Tebow be utilized—or will they be utilized? Will Michael Vick live up to his immense abilities and secure success for the Eagles? Will TV celebrity Peyton Manning comeback from neck surgery? Will the New Orleans Saints survive the suspension of their head coach for the entire season? What’s the status in the league of the running game? How will rookie Andrew Luck to against veteran icon Tom Brady in tomorrow’s game?

Each individual game tells a story. The outcome is seldom known; often surprising. The game proceeds with dramatic ebbs and flows, from surprising scores to jarring injuries. The fans are emotionally invested in the plotline and the outcome of the story.

Everything in life is a story. What happens next? The recent election campaign was a story, albeit one that for some of us went on too long. It contained ebbs and flows, even one or two surprises.

What’s known in the culture and academia as “literature” lost its standing in the culture when it stopped telling stories.


  1. A guy complaining about some article written about him 10 years ago is worried about stories going on too long?

  2. Waahlll, the recent piling-on laughing dismissals by reviewers who, like Bissell, never read the ULA, has something to do with it. KW didn't revive the 10-yr-old article -- Bissell and Co. did. Eh? Also, I'd think the disparity of power is of (enduring) interest, in this era of fairness. Hmmm? ...The biggest writers/reviewers of the land slamming a tiny group of disadvantaged indie writers...without investigation. Fascinating. It's still a great story. ...Which is why KW pushes it. It's the best story in Lit in a long time. Here we have rival worldviews and the potential for dramatic fireworks but one side won't play so the story is left hanging. Totally unprofessional. The ULA tries to spark things for the sake of all approaches to our ever-more-irrelevant, sidelined Lit world. Wm F Buckley used to argue on TV with a wide range of Americans and their diverging ideas -- there was a sense of artistic dynamism in those days that connected to everyday life. All sides benefited! It's time once again for dialog. I'm guessing KW is ready. Any true Believer brave enough? Nobody knows what'll happen! Those Buckley shows weren't scripted. The folks who dared come on deserve their props. Who has nerve today? It looks like KW does. C'mon! What a story it would make!

  3. @Anonymous

    Don't you see that the ship is sinking? Every year fewer 'literary' books are published. Every year the writing programs, establishment lit mags, establishment authors become less and less relevant.

    The self-publishing phenomenon is a fish swimming around your head as the ballroom fills with sea water.

    Someday, the Discovery Channel will retrieve Bissell's spectacles, caked with barnacles, and the world will marvel that there ever was such a thing...

  4. ...and celebrate ancient blog postings taking apart Bissell's essay, piece by piece, ten years after the fact.

  5. Just look at the lasting power of Homer, which is pure storytelling. Most American lit of today has a shelf life of a few month.