cover image The Story Is True: The Art and Meaning of Telling Stories

The Story Is True: The Art and Meaning of Telling Stories

Bruce Jackson, . . Temple Univ., $25 (244pp) ISBN 978-1-59213-606-3

The author is a polymath: a prolific author of books, a professor of American culture, a documentary filmmaker, an exhibiting photographer who can allude to James Joyce as easily as Bob Dylan. Here he turns his considerable intellect to stories: those we tell each other and those told by lawyers, politicians and authors from Homer to Faulkner. Jackson's goal is to deconstruct the stories, to determine what is true about them, why and how they work, how they differ from reality, and how and why they are central to our everyday experiences. Much of his commentary about the structure and rhetoric of stories isn't new, but writing with breakneck energy, he consistently entertains. This is primarily a vehicle for Jackson to riff like a jazz musician, and occasionally as self-indulgently, on an eclectic selection of stories, storytellers, and cultural phenomena that interest him, among them the prosecutors and defense attorneys who orchestrated the O.J. Simpson trial; Walker Evans and James Agee's Let Us Now Praise Famous Men ; American movie westerns; and a lovely and moving remembrance of his adult daughter as a child. Happily, Jackson's opinions, even those that annoy, make for good reading. (May)