The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall


6/23/12 – How could I resist a book called The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human? Especially one that contains this paragraph in its preface?

“This book is about the primate Homo fictus (fiction man), the great ape with the storytelling mind. You might not realize it, but you are a creature of an imaginative realm called Neverland. Neverland is your home, and before you die, you will spend decades there. If you haven’t noticed this before, don’t despair: story is for a human as water is for a fish – all-encompassing and not quite palpable. While your body is always fixed at a particular point in space-time, your mind is always free to ramble in the land of make-believe. And it does.”

A book about the value and prevalence of story in human existence that mentions one of my favorite story worlds in its preface alone. I had no chance. None whatsoever. But it is a snare into which I have stepped most willingly.

I am about to being Chapter 2: The Riddle of Fiction and even after reading the first page, I am reminded of my childhood. Of hours spent alone in my room with paper and pencil, drawing stick figure pictures, that were remarkably detailed for stick figures, and coming up with entire stories beginning from that one picture. These stories I would tell to myself as I drew, letting the world unfold around me, my mind expanding beyond the paper on the floor before me. More than once, my parents would come to my room, asking me who I was talking to. The answer was no one, of course. I was just “talking story” and was completely happy to. The Story People will forever prevail and survive in my world.

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