Thursday, August 20, 2020

The Truth About Stories

While browsing through the library's Indigenous Knowledge section, I came across the 2003 CBC Massey Lecture by Thomas King: The Truth About Stories.  I was intrigued, so I grabbed it.

The Truth About Stories is a really quick read. Like all Massey Lectures, it is composed of 5 chapters which comprised the 5 lectures in the series (although this one had an added bonus chapter which was not part of the lecture series).  I'm not familiar with King's writing, but I quite enjoyed The Truth About Stories.  It meanders at times within the chapters, but always gets back on point, sometimes in unexpected ways.  His writing is very friendly; I felt like he was literally hanging out and chatting.  

I also really liked how he structured the lecture.  There's a lot of repetition, particularly at the beginning of each chapter (the same story is told, although the details differ a bit), and the ending is very poignant (for example, here's the ending of chapter 1):

Take Charm's story, for instance. It's yours. Di with it what you will. Tell it to friends. Turn it into a television movie. Forget it. But don't say in the years to come that you would have lived your life differently if only you had heard this story.

You've heard it now.

Like the beginning of each chapter, the end differs in the details (there are different stories in each chapter, after all). But they all end with those last two lines.  

I also really liked how King builds to his thesis within the lecture series.  Again, his language and tone are very colloquial, which kind of lulls you into a false sense of security.  But then, again and again within each chapter (and even moreso within the last chapter because that is the end of the lecture series), his meaning hits you almost to the gut (yes, I did find it very visceral).  

This is a book that I want to read again and again.  It strikes me as the type of book that will not only stay with you, but that you will get more from the more you read it.  I'm also very interested in reading more from King as I really enjoyed his writing style.

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